Baby back, spare, riblets…with so many ways to have your ribs, it’s hard to pick a favourite!
Also called side ribs, these are the most inexpensive cut of ribs you can buy. Spare ribs are a long cut from the lower portion of the pig or cow, specifically the belly and breastbone, and behind the shoulder. They usually consist of 11 to 13 bones, so you’ll want a big appetite for these ones! Spare ribs are covered with meat on the top of the bones as in between, and are used in a variety of cuisines.
The most obvious use of spare ribs is in the American south for barbecue–and 95% of ribs served at Ribfests are spare ribs. They’re less tender than back ribs, but full of flavour and ideal for slow cooking. Spare ribs are also used in Chinese cuisine, but are usually cut into pieces.
Known popularly as baby back ribs, back ribs or loin ribs, this cut is taken from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. They’re taken from smaller, younger hogs, not adults–hence the name ‘baby’. Like spare ribs, they have meat between the bones as well as on top of them, but they tend to be shorter and curvier than spare ribs. A rack of baby ribs contains at least 8 ribs, but can have as many as 13.
Riblets are a full set of spare ribs cut about in half. The curved part of the rib is usually removed, giving them a more consistent look. These ribs, because they’re taken from spare ribs, are also high in flavour and low in cost.
No matter which cut you choose, it’s hard to go wrong with ribs!