Ribs offer endless possibilities: braised in liquid until they fall off the bone, grilled outdoors slathered in sweet barbecue sauce, they are finger-licking, rich and succulent morsels of beef that bring us much joy during the summer months.
But which rib to choose? This Grow and Behold Rib Cooking Guide will help you navigate through the choices, so you can make beautiful Back Ribs, stellar Short Ribs, succulent Spare Ribs, rocking Rack of Short Ribs, and adapt rib recipe to your kosher kitchen. See below for a visual comparison chart, or download our printable pdf here.
Cuts we call Spare Ribs, Plate Flanken, and all the Short Ribs (Three-Bone, English and Korean) are all from the same piece of meat, most commonly called the “Three-Bone Short Rib”. All three offer well-marbled meat that is best when cooked slowly over low heat (smoked, braised or slow-roasted in an oven), rendering the fat and collagen into intensely flavorful unctuous drippings, and producing a tender, melt-in-your mouth meat. These cuts are made from the Plate (belly) of the animal, and are more marbled than Flanken or Back Ribs.
Now that we know how these three cuts are similar, here’s what’s different about them:
- 3-Bone Short Rib Rack is the base for all three cuts. It’s a rack of three bones with meat in between and on top of the bones. Good for BBQ ribs on the grill or in a smoker (We recommend cooking first, then adding BBQ sauce or any other thick, sweet or umami glaze to the ribs during the last hour of cooking, or just before serving.)
- Spare Ribs are made from a three-bone short rib cut into 1 1/2″ slices (parallel to the rib bones) to create uniform pieces. Spare Ribs will cook a little faster than the Rack, but similar to the Rack, there is meat both on the sides of the bones and on top. These cook well on the grill (same marinating suggestions as above).
- Plate Flanken is a 3-bone short rib cut perpendicular to the bones. Each piece is about 2″ high by 8-9″ long, and will include 3 bones with meat in between. These are best braised in liquid an oven or crock pot with aromatics like red wine, herbs, onions, garlic, citrus, soy sauce, porcini mushrooms, etc.
- Korean Short Ribs are a very narrow slice of flanken that can be cooked like a steak. Sear over high heat, then transfer to a cooler part of the grill to allow the fats to render and meat to become tender.
- English Short Ribs are perfect 2″ squares that make for a beautiful presentation. Perfect for braising; can also be seared after braising for a crisp exterior.
Flanken come from the five bones of the Chuck, which is leaner than the Plate. Because they are less marbled, they are generally cooked in liquid so they stay moist. While they can be smoked, we don’t recommend it. Flanken is great for chulent, stew and chili.
Back Ribs are the same ribs that are on a Bone-In Rib Steak, and are produced when we cut Rib-Eye Steaks or Filet Mignon. They are longer, and arrive as a rack about 8″ long with long thin strips of meat in between the bones (sometimes called “finger meat”). The meat is, similar to the steaks, very tender and fairly lean. While these ribs have the least amount of meat on them (compared to the others), the meat is the most tender and can be cooked quickly at high heat. Sometimes called “Dinosaur Ribs” because they are so larger, they hold up well with a nice marinade or rub then a quick sear on the grill or under the broiler. (However you like to season your steaks, you can season these Back Ribs, although avoid fresh garlic if you’re broiling or grilling since it will burn.)
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