Naked Meats fans already know us for our meaty, super high quality St Louis Pork Spare Ribs as well as our Beef Short Spare Ribs but those new to the Naked Meats experience may not realise just how much goodness you are actually getting. That’s why we thought it was time to give you the low-down on ribs.
Did you know not all ribs are created equal?
How much meat you actually get on your ribs all comes down to where your meat is sourced from (we only ever bring in the best quality, free range meat!) and how well it is butchered.
You want to be choosing a slab with a good coverage of meat over the bones and check there are no large areas of surface fat – you want to be buying more meat than fat and bones for you dinner! And avoid “shiners” – that’s slabs where the meat has been cut too close to the bone. Those exposed bones may fall out during cooking and we want everything kept intact for maximum flavour.
Four Types of Pork Ribs
Each pig has 14 rib bones which are attached to the spine and divided into our four most popular cuts which are:
- St. Louis ribs
- Spare ribs
- Baby back ribs
- Rib tips
Each type of rib has its own distinct characteristics, and best cooking methods. As a general guide, you can tell the type of rib by the way it has been trimmed and the section of the rib cage that it came from.
So let’s start with our Naked Meats favourite, the St Louis ribs…
St Louis Ribs
These are spare ribs that have some extra special trimming which is why they are only available from good quality, experienced butchers. This cut of rib is a favourite as it is neat and tidy for presentation.
The meat is pretty much the same as on spare ribs, minus the cartilage and gristle you find at the bottom of the spares.
- St Louis cut ribs are longer than baby backs and shorter than full spare ribs.
- You most likely won’t come across these in the supermarket, they are a generally more of a “specialty” item.
- While the shape of the bone is essentially the same as the spare rib, the fact that they are trimmed up more makes them look more regular in shape than other types of rib
These come from further down the side of the pig, and reach right down toward the breastbone of the animal. They are also referred to as “side ribs” or “spares”.
These are probably the most well-known type of rib. When people refer to “ribs” without specifying what type, there is a good chance they are talking about spare ribs.
- Spare ribs are flatter and straighter than baby back ribs.
- On one end you will see the marrow of the bones where they have been cut away from the baby back ribs.
- The other end is where the ribs taper away at the chest of the animal. At this end of the ribs you will see a slab of meat, along with some cartilage and gristle.
Baby Back Ribs
These ribs come from the highest part of the pigs back, and are directly connected to the backbone of the animal. The word “baby” refers to the fact they are smaller than spare ribs. “Back” refers to the fact that they are attached to the backbone of the pig.
They are also sometimes referred to as “loin back ribs”.
- Baby back ribs tend to be leaner than spare ribs.
- They usually range between 3 to 6 inches in length from long end to short end
- They have a distinctive bend at the top where the rib meets the spine.
Rib tips refer to the small bones and cartilage that connects the front ribs to the breast bone. They are cut from the lower ends of spare ribs when butchering St. Louis cut ribs. Don’t confuse rib tips with riblets which are actually not ribs at all!
Rib tips used to be discarded as waste, but have started to make a big comeback.
- Rib tips are usually 8 – 12″ long and 1 – 3″ wide.
- Because of the cartilage they are extra chewy, and are often served chopped into chunks
Getting Your Rib Fix
If you need help with selecting the right type of ribs for your next feast or are unsure of the quantities you need then just contact us before you place your order and we’ll see you right.