Beef ribs have grown massively in popularity over recent years, but unlike pork ribs, the beef variety is rarely served or sold as an entire rack. Instead, there are several different cuts of beef ribs that have their own unique qualities and vary in how they should be prepared. In this article we’ll take you through the five best types of beef ribs and how to get the most out of them.
1. Plate Short Ribs
These are perhaps the mightiest of all ribs. Also known as ‘Loaded Beef Ribs’ for good reason, Plate Short Ribs are the biggest and meatiest you can get, taken from the lower part of the rib cage. In addition to being stacked with meat on the bone, there’s also plenty of fat to deliver an incredibly rich flavor.
Plate Short Ribs aren’t always easy to buy at your local supermarket or even some butchers, but if you can find somewhere that sells them or they’re available at a favorite Hunter & Barrel restaurant, you definitely want to give them a try. The best cooking method is low and slow to break down the delicious fat without drying out the meat portion. Whacking them on a smoker with a simple salt and pepper rub is an excellent option that allows high quality ribs to really flourish with their natural flavor.
2. Chuck Short Ribs
This is a more commonly available cut, which is still very meaty but with a slightly smaller bone. Chuck Short Ribs come from underneath the cow’s chuck area and are typically comprised of the first four or five ribs on the rib cage. These still contain a good amount of that flavorful fat you’re craving, making them great to eat off the bone. With the bones being shorter, the meat portion is more pronounced, so you’ll find it easier to tear off with your teeth.
These ribs are particularly good for marinating and a very popular choice in Korean style barbecue. A great option is to let them soak overnight in a sweet Asian marinade before grilling over direct heat. They can be smoked as well and don’t take as long as Plate Short Ribs.
3. Back Ribs
Back Ribs are quite different to the first two, coming from higher on the cow, and are essentially the ribs you would find in a prime rib roast. Given that the prime rib is a very expensive cut of meat, butchers will usually try to keep as much meat on the roast as possible. As a result, there isn’t generally a lot of meat left on the rib bones but the quality of it is high, and when cooked the right way, that meat can be delightfully tender.
Being smaller than the aforementioned types, Back Ribs cook more quickly. They’re scrumptious when cooked indirectly on the grill with a sweet and smoky BBQ sauce, and also great for braising. Additionally, the rich marrow content of Back Ribs makes them a terrific ingredient in soups and stews for extra beef flavor.
4. English Cut
This is actually the most common cut of beef ribs where they are cut parallel to the bone instead of across. Plate Short Ribs are what are frequently cut in the English style, which results in a layer of fat and muscle on the top that can either be left on or removed by your butcher. They’re also often available either as a rack of four bones or individually if you prefer.
5. Flanken Cut
This beef ribs style is a thinner cut (usually about half an inch thick) that goes across the bones. It produces a lovely thin strip of meat with four to five pieces of bone in it. Chuck short ribs are regularly cut this way, and while they tend to have a lot of hard fat, the Flanken Cuts soak up marinades very well and are fantastic for grilling.