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Apr 23, 2002 12:30 PM

rib advice!?

  • b

okay, I know I said I wasn't cooking, but this is a one time thing.

I am craving ribs right now, but have only had them once (I'm from maryland, pit beef always sounded better) so don't know much about them.

what are the different types of ribs and how many (ribs or pounds) is a typical serving per person?

In my grocery store I've seen:

spare ribs
baby back ribs
country ribs
lamb ribs

and I have no idea which type to try. I also have no idea about cooking times (unfortunately these will have to be oven or frying pan based, and let me say ahead of time I know that they would be better on the grill but it's not an option), temperatures, or rubs/sauce applications. so I'm really looking for a basic rib primer.

any help?


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  1. I like baby backs. I think they're the most tender.

    I par boil them first, with an onion, then sauce em up and throw them on the grill. You can also broil them in the oven.

    The par boiling is key because it ensures thorough cooking, tenderness, and no scorched outside/raw inside problem.

    I'm sure others will have more elegant suggestions, but this worked for my mom and works for me. *s*

    2 Replies
    1. re: sskwire

      I agree about the par boiling. I do it too and add tons of spices and stuff to the water. Then I bake at a very low temp for a looong time. Sauce or spices, if any, is added during the last 30 minutes.

      1. re: The Rogue

        I forgot to say that I only parboil beef ribs. Which are the type I make most of the time. Parboiling pork ribs does rob them of flavor like other folks have said, but beef can stand up to it.

    2. Similar to sskwire's advice, I like babybacks. I cook the ribs with a dry spice or simply salt and pepper in a 200-250 degree oven or at least 2 hours. This is where they get the tenderness from. Cook them until they pull apart easily from each other.

      Then put on the wet, basting sauce, and either grill over hot coals, or bake at a high temp or broil until glazed. Usually on the grill, it is another 10 minutes or so. Really good and really easy. The key is to cook it enough in the first stage so the meat just falls off the bone.


      1. While I'm sure many of us get frustrated with the Emeril Network (aka FoodTV) from time to time, there are many good tidbits to be gleaned from Alton Brown's series Good Eats.

        Brown uses a dry rub, wraps the ribs in foil to absorb the flavors, adds a liquid concoction, braises in the oven, drains out the liquid, then broils.

        I'm not entirely sure if the link below will work, but if not, the entire process can be found on their website. The recipe is called, tongue in cheek, "Who Loves Ya Baby-Back Ribs."


        1 Reply
        1. re: Bill

          Have you seen the Alton Brown/Good Eats Fan page? Cehck the link below. This guy has transcribed every word of every show.


        2. Ribs--now you're talkin' my language.

          Personally I prefer good old pork spareribs. At less than half the price of babybacks, and way, way more than twice the meat, when proprly prepared spare ribs are a better balue and just as tender.
          Country ribs aren't ribs at all, but pork butt. Lamb ribs are OK, but no the rib of choice for a beginner. Beef ribs can also be quite good, and are not hard to make, cook them in a similar fashion to the pork ribs..

          Here's how I cook spare ribs when I have to use the oven:
          Prepare a dry rub using the following (feel free to improvise)
          Lots of brown sugar
          cayenne pepper
          garlic powder

          Rub this into the meat and allow to sit for about 1/2 hour.

          Place the rack of ribs into a shallow baking dish at 225-250 degrees for about 2 hours. The idea is to render out the fat, cooking the meat slowly. I do not parboil the meat--it is unnecesary and it removes too much flavor.
          I usually finish the ribs under the broiler 'til they've developed a nice glazed not-quite-burned look. If you like, serve a BBQ sauce on the side.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Alan H

            Great description (actually all of these rib posts have sounded good, but I have a bias against baby back ribs due to those awful chili's commercials), I think I'll try spare ribs (assuming I can find them.

            So what is the pounds (ribs) per person? I'm making this for 4, and I wouldn't mind having some leftovers.


            1. re: ben f

              >So what is the pounds (ribs) per person?

              The rule of thumb for spare ribs is usually 1 lb. per person, although serious rib-a-holics (I enthusiastically raise my own hand here) tend to eat a bit more. A full rack is usually about three pounds, and I can usually polish off half of that without batting an eye....

              -- Paul

              1. re: ben f

                Hey Ben,
                I can usually put down about 2/3 of a 5 lb rack, but I wouldn't actually do that in front of anyone I wanted to impress :)
                I'd say 2 lb. per person is more than enough when you factor in the bone weight.
                Again, I implore you, do not parboil. The rendering of the fat is sufficient to tenderize the meat, and you do not meed to fear trichinosis which I believe was the original purpose of parboiling pork in the '50's.

            2. I can't believe no one has mentioned smoke - which I consider the essence of a good BBQ rib. I made baby backs Sunday and I don't want to brag but Holy Cow they were good!

              I par boil the ribs for tenderness especially. Then rub with a 50/50 mix of Tony Chachere's spice mix (it's mostly, salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic) and brown sugar. The I smoked them over hickory chunks for about 3 hours. Removed, slathered with BBQ sauce and wrapped in aluminum foil, baked at 350 for a bout a hlaf hour and served. Tender and extremely flavorful with just the right meat, smoke, spice balance.

              Before I had a smoker, I did the pre-sauce cooking on a BBQ grill at a very low temperature with the lid down(preferably with the coals to the side and a few handfuls of soaked chips thrown on for good measure.

              You also asked about portion. For baby backs, I can eat half a "rack" (that is the two foot long strip they are sol in) while my husband can snarf down a whole rack. With spare ribs, which are considerably longer and bigger, I find 4-6 ribs fills just about anyone up.

              A think baby backs are unquestionably the tenderest and easiest to portion and serve. Full-size pork spareribs are awfully big and involve more bones and cartilage posed at odd angles. I like beef ribs, but find them hardest to cook and ensure that they are both tender and juicy.