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Ultimate ribs; you'll find new choices, new cuts at the meat counter. Here's help shopping and barbecuing.

Grilled ribs, dripping with sauce, rank high as a favorite summer meal. This year as you shop for the meat, you may be surprised at the range of options: some are old standbys, others are new. Leaner cuts, cuts from different parts of the animal, and new ways of cutting all add to the choices. A recent innovation presents precooked marinated ribs that require only reheating. On the following pages, we offer a chart to guide you through shopping for and preparing ribs. Choose the cut you plan to use and follow the suggested methods of cooking (details for each method are on pages 60 and 6 1 ). To give extra flavor or a shiny glaze, add sauce from choices on page 116; use sauces interchangeably on any meat you select. Loin versus belly cuts Imagine an X-ray view of a cow, pig, or lamb to see where ribs come from. From the shoulder back to the rump or leg is the rib-loin section. These ribs attach to the backbone and fall to the stomach area. Ribs along the upper back section of the loin are lean and tender. Those cut from the center of this section (back or prime ribs are best known) have the leanest meat and most uniform size. In pork, they are a by-product of center-cut loin roasts and commonly called baby back pork ribs. Ribs along the upper back closer to the shoulder or rump have more irregular bone structure and more fat marbling in the meat; they can be slightly chewier and more flavorful. One new pork choice, Danish-cut pork loin back ribs, comes from the blade end near the shoulder. Beef cross-cut back ribs are cut across the bones of a three- to four-rib section to form thin strips with oval cross-sections of bones. As the bones move lower, closer to the belly, more fat marbles the meat, providing juicy, flavorful eating. Some cuts, especially those near the shoulder or leg, tend to be thicker. Popular names for some of these cuts include beef short ribs, country-style pork ribs, pork spareribs, and lamb riblets. Where the cut was taken and the way the ribs are cut, as well as the names by which they are sold, vary by store. If you're confused, ask at the meat counter what part of the animal the piece came from. Cooking ribs-on the grill, in the oven Back ribs and spareribs (from the center) are generally sold in whole racks; others are often presliced into serving-size pieces. For juicier meat, leave racks whole for cooking; cut ribs apart if you want sauce to completely coat the meat. Some people swear by the technique of precooking ribs before grilling. It involves simmering or oven-braising the ribs first, then glazing and finishing them on the barbecue. It's an effective technique for fatty cuts; the first cooking renders much of the fat, reducing flare-ups on the grill. Precooking also can tenderize chewier cuts and reduce grill time for thick cuts. If you have more ribs than you can fit on the grill at one time, you might precook them to shorten barbecue time. However, double-cooking can also draw out more meat juices, resulting in a drier texture in lean or thin cuts. Barbecuing gives ribs rich browning, a mild smokiness, and a crusty exterior that many connoisseurs favor. Thin pieces and precooked thicker cuts cook well over direct heat. Use indirect heat for thick, raw pieces, fatty cuts, and meats that need more thorough cooking, such as pork. Oven-barbecuing can glaze meat but can't give charcoal's smokiness and crustiness. It's best suited to thicker, fattier pieces that need more cooking time to develop a deep brown color. Thin lean cuts may dry out before they brown. For complete cooking instructions, see the following two pages. To precook ribs on the range. Place 3 to 4 pounds ribs (whole racks or serving-size pieces; see chart for choices), trimmed of excess fat, in a 6- to 8-quart pan. Add water to cover. Cover pan and simmer just until tender when pierced (see chart for times). Lift out ribs. Reserve pan juices for broth, or discard. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill ribs up until next day.) Barbecue ribs (directions follow). To precook ribs in the oven. Place 3 to 4 pounds ribs (whole racks or serving-size pieces; see chart for choices), trimmed of excess fat, in an I I - by 17-inch roasting pan. Add 314 cup water. Cover tightly; bake in a 425o oven until tender when pierced (see chart for times). Lift out ribs. Reserve pan juices for broth, or discard. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill ribs up until next day.) Barbecue ribs (directions follow). To barbecue over direct heat. Place 3 to 4 pounds raw or precooked ribs (whole racks or serving-size pieces; see chart for choices), trimmed of excess fat, on a grill 4 to 6 inches above a solid bed of medium coals (you can hold your hand at grill level only 4 to 5 seconds). For thin beef cross-cut ribs, use hot coals (you can bold your hand at grill level only 2 to 3 seconds). Cook as directed on chart. To barbecue over indirect heat. Mound 50 to 60 charcoal briquets on firegrate in a barbecue with a lid; open the bottom dampers. Ignite and let burn until charcoal is covered with gray ash, about 30 minutes. Using long-handled tongs, bank the briquets on opposite sides of firegrate. Position grill 4 to 6 inches above coals; lightly grease the grill. Set 3 to 4 pounds raw or precooked ribs (whole racks or serving-size pieces; see chart for choices) in the middle of the grill without coals beneath ribs. Add 5 or 6 briquets to each mound of coals. Cover barbecue and adjust dampers to maintain an even heat. Cook as directed on chart. To oven-barbecue. Place 3 to 4 pounds raw or precooked and drained ribs (whole racks or serving-size pieces; see chart for choices) in a single layer in a foil-lined 11by 17-inch roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 4500 oven as directed in chart. Note: nutrition information is not available for all these meat cuts;figures are estimated calculations.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on best ways to barbecuing the ribs
Publication:Sunset
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Words:1038
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