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Jun 24, 2011 09:45 AM

Serving the whole rib section

I love pork ribs. Baby backs, St Louis or Kansas City spare ribs. I recently attended a pig butchering class. It was based on the French style. This fellow made 3 small cuts with a saw and then dismembered an entire side of pork with a 6 inch knife. No hacking or chopping. He skillfully cut the rib section, lifting gently on the edge as he cut away the belly and the loin. At the end he had the whole rib section with a bit attached at the spine. It was impressive. Interestingly the French are not as enamoured with ribs as we are. They cut them up small and use them in soups or strip the meat off for sasauge. At the end of the class we were going to get to take some pork home. I kept looking at the ribs and thinking, "Yes please!" I did not get the ribs, I got a small ham section along with some of the coppa that was unbelievabley delicions. But it got me thinking about how to cook and serve the whole rib section. It would be messy to eat, but it would certainly make an impression arriving at the table. Does anyone know of a restaurant that serves it this way?


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  1. Whatever drive-in Fred Flinstone goes to.

    Sorry JR, couildn't help myself. Glad you enjoyed the presentation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chileheadmike

      In a different life a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I used to run a kitchen. We'd serve whole racks of pork side ribs and yeah, it looked great.
      Our beef ribs were even more spectacular. Every once in a while I'd offer a prime rib special where I'd de-bone the roast before searing, carving, then grilling. The rib rack was a kind of by-product and I'd sell those grilled. Now these were impressive!
      BTW CHmike, we called them Flintstone Ribs on the whiteboard menu!

    2. Well, consider that long ribs are best cooked over long, dry, low heat. Which means you need copious amounts of wood. In France, wood was long not as freely available a resource to common people as in North America, so it's not surprising to discover that the cuisine reflects that, much the way that Chinese cuisine is premised on an almost maniacally efficient leveraging of fuel sources. And, BBQ rib bones don't make good stock the way simmered or braised bones do, so that's another kinda of "waste" that can only be more easily found in a culture of food abundance.

      But I have to say that French butchery charts seem much more efficient than American ones. They appear to cut the animals up in ways designed to make the best of each area of the animal. Again, scarcity drives such efficiencies.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Karl S

        I'm sure you are on the right track, but French cooking has many low and slow braise type dishes, no?


        1. re: JuniorBalloon

          right, but long spareribs require a huge pot, which requires a bigger fire. Cutting up the rib into small parts makes them suitable for more traditional cooking, nez pas?

          1. re: Karl S

            I don't use a pot when I cook ribs as I cook them on a grill or in a smoker. In my experience the size of the fire is no bigger for ribs than it is to roast a chicken. When they are done low and slow many ribs can be done at the same time a relatively small space of a smoker. I'm sure that there is some traditional reason why they choose not to use the ribs as we do, but conserving fire and not being wasteful doesn't sound right.

            1. re: JuniorBalloon

              Closed grills were not traditional; open hearths or open fires were. A closed system requires much less fuel than an open one.

        2. re: Karl S

          "long ribs are best cooked over long, dry, low heat"
          Perhaps, but they can certainly be enjoyed grilled quickly on moderate to high heat.

          1. re: porker

            But then you'd still be wasting the bones for other uses. Again, think like peasant who has to make every bit count.

            1. re: Karl S

              Why are the bones not useable for stock after grilling? I Have read both that a roasted chicken is fine and worthless for stock. In my own experince they can make a delisious stock. In some beef stock preperations the bones are roasted first. Is there something about the grilling that makes them not useable?


              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                Bones from meat that is grilled over wood do not have the neutral flavor of oven-roasted bones.

                Yes, you can make stock from them. But they will have a pronounced flavor from grilling, with more limited uses. I know from experience...