Beef ribs come in many different forms. The types of beef ribs you'll find at the butcher shop or in the meat counter may include back ribs, short ribs or boneless beef ribs. Each type is cut from a different part of the steer, and has different needs when it comes to barbecuing.
A steer has 13 pairs of ribs. The front 5 ribs are included in the chuck cut. Ribs 6 through 12 make up what's called the rib primal. The last rib, unlucky number 13, is part of the loin section.
Beef back ribs are from the upper part of the steer's rib cage, next to the back bone. There are seven rib bones in a full slab. When the rib roast is cut from the rib section, back ribs are what is left. These ribs are not very meaty, but will barbecue more quickly than short ribs since they contain less connective tissue.
Ribs from the shoulder area include three types. All of these rib types are meatier than plate short ribs, and contain a bit less fat and connective tissue, so they will become tender in less time.
When cut across the bones into strips, they are known as flanken style ribs. Cut parallel to the ribs into rectangular pieces, they are called English style short ribs. Boneless beef short ribs are simply chuck short ribs trimmed of the bones.
Are from the underside of the chest, and are cut from
the ends of the ribs. Each rib contains a section of flat bone. The ribs
are rectangular in shape, are usually fatty, and contain a lot of
connective tissue. It takes many hours of cooking to tenderize this type
of beef rib. The ribs pictured to the right are beef plate short ribs.
For barbecuing on the grill or in the meat smoker, beef back ribs are the best choice of all the types of beef ribs. Short ribs can be smoked or grilled, but do better at lower temperatures, cooked in a container with liquid. Braising and slow cooking in the crockpot make these little ribs melt in your mouth tender.
Short ribs can be grilled or smoked. Wrapping them in foil after the
first couple of hours will trap the moisture and help them cook quicker.
Douse them in barbecue sauce before double-wrapping in heavy duty foil
for a real treat.
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