Ribs 101: four cooking methods | national news


“Rib” should never be a four letter word.

They represent all that is good in meat: they have an incredible flavor, immediately recognizable, both hearty and smooth. They’re tender, but also have just the right amount of chewing. They taste wonderful on their own, but they also pair beautifully with a number of sauces.

And they are virtually impossible to cook poorly.

And yet, many people find them intimidating, or too much work. Ribs are something they only order from a restaurant, preferably a barbecue.

But it is not difficult to turn your home into your own personal barbecue. Ribs are not at all difficult to cook, and the best part is that when you’re done, you have ribs.

I’ve made spare ribs – we’re talking pork ribs here – in four different ways, with different results.

First of all, I made them in the traditional way, smoking them on low heat for several hours. These have proven to be the best by far, tender and juicy with the exquisite flavor and aroma of smoke running through all the way. If you have the time and have a smoker or grill that you can use for smoking, this is definitely the way to go for a true rib experience.

Then I tried a method I had always hated: I boiled the ribs before grilling them. Some restaurants love to steam their ribs because it makes them extra tender and especially because it saves them time.

Not everyone agrees. Grillmeister Steven Raichlan says, “in my barbecue religion it is heresy.”

Boiling the ribs helps make some fat, but at the same time, it also adds a little flavor. But what I hadn’t guessed was how many other flavors are added by grilling meat over direct heat. Ten minutes is all it takes to finish the almost cooked ribs with a mouth-watering taste of flame and smoke.

Cooking ribs in a slow cooker takes longer than any other method, but it’s time you can spend away from the kitchen, if you want. Just rub the ribs with spices, put them in the slow cooker and forget about them – until the mouth-watering aroma reminds you that dinner is almost over.

They come out tender, but with just enough resistance to your bite, and have a delicious, meaty and full flavor. They’re awfully good, but they lack the smokiness that many people say defines the taste of ribs.

I don’t particularly recommend the fourth method of cooking ribs, roasting them in the oven, unless you don’t have a smoker, grill, or slow cooker.

Oven-roasted ribs have the right texture and you can take advantage of the fact that you’re eating ribs. But the flavor is minimal and, frankly, a bit bland.

Yet the end result is ribs. And it’s better than not having ribs.

What are the different cuts of ribs?

The most popular ribs are baby ribs, which originate from the top of the rib cage. They have the most meat of all rib cuts, and are also the fastest and easiest to cook.

The spare ribs are cut just below the back ribs. They have more marbling between the bones, and therefore more flavor, but they are also not as tender as the backs of babies.

St. Louis style ribs are basically spare ribs, but are cut shorter so they don’t have the ends of the ribs on the bottom. Rib tips are the hardest part of the ribs.

What about country back ribs?

Country style ribs are not ribs (you can tell because they are not attached to a bone). They are in fact cut from the pork butt, that is to say the shoulder. They are sometimes mistakenly confused with ribs because they, like ribs, must be cooked at a low temperature for a relatively long period of time.

What is skin and should it be removed?

What people call the “skin” is actually a membrane, the pleura. When cooked, it becomes tough and chewy, and most people find it unpleasant to eat – however, it is edible (and some like it). It’s usually best to take it off, although we left it on while cooking the ribs in a slow cooker, as it helps hold the grill together when using this method.

To remove it, simply slide a thin, sharp knife between the bone side of the ribs and the skin to loosen enough to grab it. Hold it with a clean towel or paper towels and remove the skin from the ribs. It comes off very easily from baby’s ribs; it takes more effort with ribs and ribs from St. Louis.

If you smoke ribs, which wood should you use?

Hickory is a good place to start; it produces perhaps the most familiar smoke flavor. But take it easy with the fries, as too much walnut smoke can add a bitter note to your meat.

Fruit woods such as apple (which won’t impart as much flavor) and cherry are sweet and blend well with other woods. Mesquite is delicious and incomparable, but it can easily get tough, so be sure to use it sparingly.

Oak is not traditionally used with pork, unless you are from east Texas, where holm oak grows like a weed and is used for barbecuing everything. I used to live in East Texas so for this story I used a combination of oak and hickory.

When to put the sauce?

Most barbecue sauces contain sugars (North Carolina vinegar sauce is a significant exception). Sugars burn quickly, ruining your barbecue. If you are cooking at a low temperature, such as in a smoker, oven or slow cooker, do not apply your sauce until the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking. If cooking at a high temperature, such as finishing under the broiler or on a direct heat grill, add the sauce only during the last three to five minutes.

Some experts don’t even add any sauce at all while cooking the ribs. They serve the sauce on the side. A few purists totally disdain the idea of ​​the sauce and disbelieve in its use, but I see no reason for such extremism.



Yield: 6 servings

3 rack of ribs or 2 rack of ribs

3/4 cup of spice rub

1. Coat both sides of the ribs with the spice blend and rub it into the meat. Do not remove the membrane. Place the ribs, upright, in a large slow cooker (an oval-shaped slow cooker will work best). You may need to cut the grid into pieces to insert them. A small slow cooker can hold 1 rack.

2. Cook 4 to 5 hours on high power or 7 to 8 hours on low heat. Ribs are done when the meat is tender, has moved away from the bone about 3/4 of an inch, and has an internal temperature of 195 degrees.

Per serving: 535 calories; 38 g of fat; 13 g of saturated fat; 156 mg of cholesterol; 44 g of protein; 6 g of carbohydrates; 3 g of sugar; 2 g of fiber; 1389 mg of sodium; 86 mg of calcium

Recipe by Daniel Neman


Yield: 6 servings

3 rack of ribs or 2 rack of ribs

3/4 cup of spice rub

1 cup of wood chips, for smoking

1/3 cup apple juice

3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

Chipotle barbecue sauce or your favorite barbecue sauce, optional

1. Remove the membranes from the bone side of the ribs by sliding a thin, sharp knife between the meat and the membrane. Pull the membrane with the knife until you can grip it with your thumb (use a napkin or paper towel for a better grip). Remove the membrane from the meat and discard it.

2. Coat both sides of the ribs with a spice blend and rub into the meat. Refrigerate 4 to 8 hours or let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Do not store out of the refrigerator for more than an hour.

3. Meanwhile, soak the wood chips in water for at least 20 minutes if they are small or 1 hour if they are larger. Wrap the wet chips in foil and cut 4 slits on the top of the wrapper.

4. Prepare a grill for indirect heat.

5. Turn on the grill and use dials or vents to keep the temperature very low, 250 to 275 degrees. Try not to exceed 300 degrees. Place the bundle of wood chips in the center of the coals or directly over the gas flame. Place the ribs, bone side down, on the grill and close the lid. If you are using charcoal, you will need to add additional charcoals every hour.

6. Combine apple juice and apple cider vinegar. After 1 hour of cooking, brush this mixture sparingly over the ribs. Cover and continue cooking. Every 30 minutes, brush more liquid sparingly on top of ribs.

7. The ribs will be done in about 4 hours; ribs will take longer. About 20 to 30 minutes before cooking, brush the ribs with barbecue sauce, if desired. Ribs are done when the meat is tender, has moved away from the bone by about 3/4 of an inch, and has an internal temperature of 195 degrees.

Per serving: 600 calories; 39 g of fat; 15 g of saturated fat; 156 mg of cholesterol; 44 g of protein; 17 g of carbohydrates; 12 g of sugar; 2 g of fiber; 1,578 mg of sodium; 102 mg of calcium

Recipe by Daniel Neman


Yield: about 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons of paprika

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon of salt

2 teaspoons of chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, see note

1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme

Note: This recipe makes a moderately spicy rub. If you want it spicier, use 1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper. If you want it mild, eliminate the cayenne pepper.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

Per serving (based on 8): 20 calories; not fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 1 g of protein; 5 g of carbohydrates; 1 g of sugar; 1 g of fiber; 894 mg of sodium; 13 mg of calcium

Recipe from “The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book” by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen


Yield: 6 servings

3 rack of ribs or 2 rack of ribs

2 lemons

1 cup of salt

2 tablespoons of black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

Chipotle barbecue sauce or your favorite barbecue sauce, optional

1. Place ribs in a large pot and fill with cold water to cover. Squeeze the lemons and strain the juice into the pan. Remove the seeds and add the lemon zest. Add the salt, peppercorns and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Boil until ribs are slightly soft but not falling apart, about 25 minutes.

2. Prepare a grill over high heat.

3. Transfer the ribs to the grill, meatier side down. Grill for 10 minutes; brush meaty side with barbecue sauce, if using, and broil for another 3 minutes. Do not char the meat or sauce. The ribs are done when the meat has come off the bone by 3/4 inch.

Per serving: 590 calories; 40 g of fat; 15 g of saturated fat; 156 mg of cholesterol; 44 g of protein; 17 g of carbohydrates; 9 g of sugar; 1 g of fiber; 767 mg of sodium; 100 mg of calcium

Recipe by Yaara Amberg, via Food Network

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