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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.

      Link: http://www.nycooks.com

      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."

        Link: http://www.foodtv.com/foodtv/recipe/0...

        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.

          Link: http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com

        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.

              1. There are a thousand different ways of fixing these things; you just have to find what you like. For a couple of years I used a quick oven method, simple but effective. I too don't have a grill. By the way, has anybody noticed that the price of pork ribs has shot up quite a bit. The last couple of times I have been using a slow cook method that produces a fall off the bones type of result. Also, I do not see baby back ribs much anymore and I don't much care for St Louis or country ribs or what they tend to call pork spare ribs. I just use pork ribs. Here is the recipe for what it is worth.
                By the way after working my way through hundreds of bbq sauces I settled on making a version of kansas city bbq sauce. Kinda sweet but very tasty.

                COMPETITION BAR-B-Q RIBS

                Note: I don't follow these ingredients that much but the process produces a very tender set of ribs.

                4 slabs pork loin back ribs

                First Stage Dry Rub:
                1/2 cup dark brown sugar
                1/2 cup paprika
                1/3 cup garlic salt
                2 tablespoons onion salt
                2 tablespoons chili powder
                1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
                1 tablespoon black pepper
                1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
                1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
                1 teaspoon cumin

                Second Stage:
                1/2 cup apple juice per slab
                1/2 cup grape juice per slab

                Third Stage:
                3/4 cup First Stage rub
                1/4 cup brown sugar

                Finishing Glaze:
                1 1/2 cup Big Bob Gibson Championship Red Sauce or your favorite red sauce
                1/2 cup honey

                Raw Preparation: Place slab of ribs bone side down on table. Slide knife under the membrane and against the end bone to separate the 2. With a dry paper towel, grasp the edge of the thin membrane and pull. The entire membrane should separate from the rib. If you are not able to remove it then don't worry about it.. just leave it on.

                Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine First Stage rub and mix well. Generously apply rub onto the front and back sides of ribs. Gently pat to ensure that rub will adhere. Place ribs meat-side up on a broiler pan and
                bake for 2 1/4 hours.

                Remove ribs from oven. Place each rib meat-side down on its own doubled aluminum foil square. Foil should be large enough to completely wrap rib. Mix the Second Stage juices. Pour 1 cup of liquid over each rib. At the same time wrap and seal each rib tight. Return to the oven for 1 hour.

                Remove wrapped ribs from oven. Remove from foil and apply a medium coat of the Third Stage rub to the meat-side of the ribs. Place uncovered in the oven meat-side up for 30 minutes.

                Remove ribs from oven and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Brush finishing glaze on both sides of ribs. Place ribs in oven for 10 minutes, or until sauce caramelizes.

                3 Replies
                1. re: DavidH

                  Nice recipe, that would also do nicely. When cooking outside on the grille, I often use a glaze, or what is more traditionally referred to as a "mop", not so much on ribs as on larger less flat cuts of meat and on beef ribs.

                  As to the price--I don't know where you live. Most of the supermarket chains here tend to run about $2.49/lb or up for fresh ribs, and I will never again buy the Cryovac ones after making that mistake. One local chain, Market Basket, had them last week for $1.69/lb, although they have sold them recently for 1.99-2.39. The label says 3 1/2 down, but that seems impossible since they weigh in at over 5 lbs. Still, they seem to be the best in the area, oddly enough. If you have any ethnic butcher shops in your area (i.e. Brazilian) they tend to be priced on the lower side, and the prices don't fluctuate as much.

                  1. re: Alan H

                    The current price is around 6.49 a lb here. A few months ago it was around 4.99 or 3.99 or sale.

                    1. re: DavidH

                      Wow! Do you live on the mainland??? LOL. Seriously, that much for spare ribs! Where eo you live, anyway?

                2. Having no access to either a smoker or an outdoor grill, I stick with country-style ribs and occasionally lamb ribs. The lamb ribs I do a lot like some of the oven-baked recipes already listed (I par-boil first). Country-style I would never even try as "real" ribs; those I use when I want individual portions of meat, as in choucroute garni, or cassoulet, or some other kind of braise.

                  1. I personally think that ribs aren't usually as good as they're made out to be. It can be difficult to find a good cut with the right amount of fat. They can be tough. And they're very expensive, considering that you are paying a considerable amount just for the bones. I've never been rich, so ribs are rarely an option when I'm having company. That said, I DO like to eat ribs of all kinds, and here's my two cents:

                    I'm sorry to say (and for future reference), smoke is a necessary ingredient, but I will skip the lecture as another hound has probably said all this. Hickory and oak are king.

                    I find country ribs the best deal. They are usually boneless and not too fatty. I make a simple vinegar BBQ sauce (vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar) and soak the ribs in it overnight. No need to parboil then, they're ready to cook. Sear and bake in the oven (grill is possible!). Oh yes.

                    Pork spare ribs are good too, but expensive and erratic. I usually make these with a rub (just mix the spices you like and balace sweetness and spice to your liking), rubbed in at least a couple hours ahead of time. I smoke them dry and brush on sauce in the last 15 minutes. For the oven, slather with sauce and bake.

                    one great thing about a smoker: you can smoke some meatballs or sausage and you'll barely miss the expensive cuts of meat.