The types of beef ribs you’ll encounter at the meat counter vary. In addition, there are different methods in which they’re cut and packaged. Of course, butchers have a tendency to call some of these cuts by several names, adding more confusion to the novice shopper.
Unlike pork ribs, beef ribs have less fat than pork. While the fat in pork ribs act as a basting method, beef ribs will need more of your attention in order to keep them moist and tender. Keep one thing in mind when choosing beef ribs…the toughest cuts offer the best flavor. If you love the hearty flavor that beef offers, beef ribs are well worth the extra effort. Understanding the various types of beef ribs will help guarantee a perfect succulent beef rib.
Basically, there are two types of beef ribs, back ribs and short ribs. A steer has 13 ribs on each side. Starting at the front of the cow (see above illustration), the first 5 ribs are in the chuck cut. The next 7 ribs are part of the rib section and extend down into the short plate. The remaining rib is in the loin cut. As you might imagine, these cuts vary quite a bit from one end of the steer to the other. They vary not only in flavor, but in texture as well.
The top portion of ribs 6 through 12 is where the true beef ribs are.
The long slender rack of ribs is what is left once the butcher removes the rib roast. How big he cut the rib roast will determine how much meat is left on the ribs, themselves. Shop carefully. The bottom ends of the ribs, which are in the short plate, in most cases were cut off and packaged as short ribs.
As mentioned above, true short ribs come from the short plate, therefore the name. Don’t let the name fool you, though. Short ribs are cut in various sizes and can actually be very large. They are a tougher cut of meat with a beefy flavor that is exquisite! A little tender-loving care is all that’s needed.
Enter the other short rib…the chuck short rib. Cut from the chuck section, they are a more tender cut of meat than its rib counterpart with a flavor that more resembles a pot roast.
Short ribs are cut either parallel to the bone (English-style) or across the bone (Flanken-style). Flanken-style is the preferred cut for the Korean dish, Kalbi.
From the chuck also comes the country-style ribs. These may be boneless or bone in. The boneless are actually strips of meat sliced from the chuck roast and are an excellent choice for Asian stir-fry dishes or beef fajitas. (the photo is of boneless)
Also known as ribeye roast, rib roast or standing rib roast, this cut is the most prized and tender meat on the cow. Cut from the rib section, this cut is huge weighing up to 20 pounds. Normally this cut is divided into sections for retail sales.
As far as recommendations go, find what works best for you. Some of the cuts require a bit more work than the others, but your efforts will be handsomely rewarded with great flavor!
Enjoy your ribs and always remember…admire the fire!
A special thanks to Certified Angus Beef, LLC for their assistance!
For More on Beef Ribs
Visit our friends at QualityGrillParts.com where they published a great article on beef ribs: Smoked Beef Ribs: Beefy, Beefy Goodness for Your Belly.