Few things beat the great taste of ribs done right. Follow some of our tips and tricks and you will be able to make the perfect ribs for your family every time. Get practising over this long weekend by looking for Ontario pork ribs- buy local!
Special Varieties of Ribs
“Country Style Ribs” are cut from the same loin portion as the back ribs but the loin meat is intact. The loin is then split open (“butterflied”) to create a thick flat piece of meat. They are great for grilling or smoking. Country style ribs have more lean meat than rib bone, so will take a bit longer to cook than back or side ribs.
“Baby Back Ribs” are identical in every way to regular back ribs – (the name likely came from a chef trying to make his or her dish sound even more enticing)!
“Button Bones” are the tail section of back ribs that is usually removed and sold separately as “button bones”. They can be prepared the same way as back ribs.
“St. Louis Style Ribs” are side ribs that have been trimmed in a certain way by the butcher – the breast bone has been removed and flank meat has been trimmed away, making them the preferred format for the barbecue.
“Sweet and Sour Ribs” are side ribs labelled “centre portion removed” and have had a narrow strip removed from the top portion of the rib rack.
“Spare Ribs” are identical in every way to regular side ribs; this term is more common in the US.
Back vs. Side Ribs
There are two basic kinds of pork ribs: back ribs and side ribs.
Back ribs come from the Loin section. They are the same bones that you find on pork loin chops. The bones, or ribs, are small and more rounded in cross section than those of side ribs. More tender than side ribs, with a greater meat to bone ratio, back ribs might cost a little more than side ribs.
Side ribs lie directly adjacent to the belly, running from the point at which back ribs end to the breast bone (sternum). Side ribs are less ten-der, contain cartilage, and tend to be less expensive than back ribs.
Allow at least one pound (500 g) raw weight of ribs per person, depending on what other food is being served at the meal. Two pork back rib racks will usually serve 3 guests, while one side pork rack would serve two guests.
Rib Prep 101
Preparation: On the concave surface of all ribs is a thin, translucent membrane. This membrane is tough and will prevent any flavouring to get to the rib meat, and so should be removed. To remove membrane Insert a metal spoon handle under the membrane at one end of the rib rack and detach a corner. Then grab the detached flap and gently tear it away from the ribs. It should come off in one clean pull.
Pre– cooking ribs: We do not recommend that you boil your pork ribs, although this has been the accepted method for generations, but there is a better way! If using a dry rub, apply to the ribs. One back rib rack will need about one tablespoon (15 mL) of rub, a side rib rack will need two tablespoons (30 mL). In a cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan, add about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) of water. Add a few slices of lemon or orange to the pan. Place the ribs, meaty side up, on the pan in a single layer. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven at 325°F (160°C).
Back Ribs: Cook for between 1 and 1 and a half hours, or until meat is easily pierced with a metal skewer.
Side Ribs: Cook for between 1 and a half and 2 hours, or until meat is easily pierced with a metal skewer.
Tip: At this stage the ribs can be cooled and refrigerated for up to three days but will need to be finished on either the BBQ or in the oven, see page two for more details.
To Finish Cooking
Ribs can be warmed after pre-cooking on the Barbecue (grilled) or in the oven at a high temperature. The high temperature is important to re-heat the ribs quickly and allows the BBQ sauce basted/brushed onto the ribs to get caramelized and sticky (yummy).
If you would like to cook your ribs without pre-cooking them you can do so in the oven, using a slow cooker or using indirect heat on the BBQ. If you do not pre-cook your ribs you will want to cook them long and slow to get fall apart ribs. Once your ribs are tender (easily pierced with a fork) broil them on high heat and brush with BBQ sauce to get a nice caramelized crust.