Rib Cuts 101
October 17, 2013
I am a huge fan of slow cooked ribs, whether they’re baby backs, spares, country style, or even tips. Wait…There’s more than one type of rib, you say? Indeed and we’ve got the AmazingRibs.com master himself, Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn to break it all down for us.
The butcher’s case is bulging with baby backs, spareribs, country ribs, rib tips, riblets, St. Louis cut ribs, rib chops, rib roasts, and the prices range from $2 to $8 a pound. What to buy?
It’s hard to tell the players without a scorecard. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) specifies the names of some cuts, but others have evolved through common use and local misuse. Here’s what you need to know for your next barbecue.
Starting at the top are the baby backs, closest to the backbone, nestled beneath the loin muscle. They are curved, round bones, close together, and most of the meat is on top of the bones, cut from the underside of loin muscle.
As you move further from the spine, the bones get larger, flatter, straighter, and wider apart with more meat between them. There is more fat marbling in the meat as you go further from the spine and closer to the belly. The front ribs are connected to the breast bone with a number of small bones and cartilage known as the rib tips. There are a number of other cuts, and they are all described below.