This is the height of the barbecue season. One of the staples of outdoor cooking is ribs, whether beef or pork. They are one of the tastiest cuts to grill outdoors and enjoyed a number of ways. There are so many of them to ,from good old fashioned Southern style to spicy Szechuan.
Is there a difference between beef and pork ribs?There are some. Beef ribs come in only two cuts, back and short. The back version is what is left over from where the boneless ribeye loins and boneless ribeye steaks are cut. They don't have as much meat as the short ribs. These are from what's known as the "plate" or lower side of the cow.Cooked right they can be very juicy and flavorful which translate into higher pricing at the butcher's or grocery store.Beef ribs are more for steak lovers because that's what they taste like. Pork ribs taste like pork chops. Pork ribs come in three types, back, spare, and St. Louis.The back ribs come from the pig's loin section. They're what's left when the loin meat is cut away to create the loin roast, tenderloin or pork chops. The spare ribs come from the belly section which are the longer ones from the bottom part of the rib rack. St. Louis is when the spare ribs are trimmed to be a rectangle instead of a triangle. Either way, both beef and pork ribs are delicious, especially if they've been marinated or rubbed with a variety of different sauces and spices. Remember to trim the fat away before prepping so that each bite is meatier instead of greasier.
Beef ribs can stand up to acidic marinades. These can have a base of lemon,orange and even Coca Cola along with strong flavors such soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Try a Chinese influenced one with soy, garlic and scallions. Add a good sprinkle of Szechuan peppers for some eye opening bite.The balsamic vinegar can be used in a Mediterranean style marinade, along with rosemary and oregano.Pork ribs demand a sweeter marinade. Try a molasses based one that's also redolent with chili powder or fresh ground pepper for fire and spice. Cherries can also be used in a sauce along with cloves,and Worcester sauce. A butter sauted onion is added for more richness and flavor.A homemade dry rib rub can elevate this simple dish into something special. A rub is usually a mix of herbs such as oregano and rosemary along with other dry ingredients such as salt and spices. Cayenne or fresh ground pepper usually brings the heat while cumin and paprika give the meat that nice rosy color. Beef ribs need a more savory kind of rub while pork can stand up to a brown sugar one.Onion and garlic powder can be added to cut a rub's sweetness. Make sure there's sauce though for dipping at the picnic table. Wet naps are optional but always welcomed.
Ribs always make a barbecue much more special. They add fun and flavor whether they are beef or rib. Make them for a memorable grill outside.