Ready To Cook Like A Chef?
Very few dishes rank higher than a perfectly cooked piece of meat. Most home cooks, however, are not confident they can stand toe to toe with a trained chef. Whether you are cooking for yourself or hosting a dinner party, here are our top tips for plating up satisfying and succulent pork dishes!
A Meaty Lesson Plan
Who wants to learn about the king of BBQ meats? Let’s break down what you need to know so there are no bones about it: what are the cuts, the best way to cook your ribs, and one tender top secret detail.
Did you know that there are five types of rib cut? Oh, yeah. Class is in session!
Baby back ribs, also known as back ribs or loin back, are named as such due to their smaller size in comparison to spareribs. They come from the blade and center section of the pork loin, and produce “finger meat” between the bones. This is a leaner cut of meat, but it is remarkably tender.
Spareribs come from the belly of the hog, expanding up to the collar bone. Larger and meatier, this cut is packed with flavor. Often, this cut is flatter than other ribs, so it can brown more evenly.
St. Louis style ribs are cut from the sparerib, making them more squared off and even better at browning. The sternum, cartilage, and rib tips are removed to provide a more uniform meat cut.
Rib tips are the lower portion of the sparerib cut, which are removed when creating the St. Louis style cut. This small cut is a great option for a snack or appetizer, especially for parties!
Riblets are becoming increasingly popular. This cut is created with a butcher trims the round edge from the slab of ribs.
Country-style ribs are cut from the loin and shoulder junction. They are a combo of lean and higher fat meats, usually sold in either slabs or individual servings. This is a great option for someone who prefers to keep their fingers clean while eating.
Still unsure? Ask your local butcher or farm for advice! They are a wealth of knowledge.
Wet Or Dry - That Is The Q’
We’ve all thought it - do I smother these beauties or not? Simple answer: do what makes you happy! True, it can depend on which region you are looking to emulate or the way you choose to cook the ribs. But mostly it comes down to preference.
Wet ribs require a knowledge of flavor profiles with seasoning and sauce - but can help keep meat juicy in the event you are uncertain about cook time.
Dry ribs are all about meat texture & purity, and can cook in a shorter amount of time compared to wet applications.
Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em!
Ribs lend themselves to a multitude of cooking styles - smoking, grilling, and slow cooking being the most popular.
For smoking, prep the smoker (or grill, with appropriate accessories) for indirect low temps (275 degrees F), using your choice of woods (a 2 to 1 ratio can add a ton of flavor). Remove the membrane, then arrange ribs meaty side up. Cook for around 3 hours, then pull. Wrap in foil, again meat side up, and add some liquid (juice works nicely) before sealing tightly. Cook another 1-2 hours to desired tenderness. Should you choose to add sauce at this point, additional cook is suggested to lock in flavors. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.
If you choose the grilling approach, bring your charcoal grill to a medium fire or preheat gas grill to medium. Arrange ribs on grill and cook with indirect heat, about 1.5 - 2 hours to desired tenderness. Feel free to brush with sauce in the final 20 minutes of grilling.
Going low and slow? Grab your slow cooker and prep some ribs! Bathe your pork in a mix of sauce, juice, and seasonings to your taste. Load the ribs and some of the liquid into the appliance, cover, and cook 5 - 6 hours on low or on high for 3.5 - 4 hours if you’d prefer a quicker meal. Brushing with further sauce is optional!
What is the secret to grilled or smoked rib succulence? Once cooked, pull the meat from heat and wrap in foil. Place in brown paper bags, close, then let the ribs rest for around an hour.
Go Pig Out!
Now that you are armed with all of the information you need to be the BBQ boss, all you need are the ribs! While your local supermarket might have a considerable selection, there are even more options available to you if you crave a culinary adventure. Consider checking your local independent butcher or getting home delivery from a humane family farm. No matter which rib cut you choose, we wish you happy cooking!