The Perfect Ribs
The Big Green Egg Rib Primer
Cooking on the Big Green Egg is all about bringing people together and creating great memories! Our go-to favorite for crowd pleasing gatherings is … ribs! The complex flavors you can achieve by cooking ribs on the EGG are endless. Whether you prefer a smokier, springy rib or a fall-off-the-bone, juicy, saucy rib, they are the perfect meal for game day, tailgating, or a casual neighborhood barbecue.
Pork Rib Guide
St. Louis Ribs
The St. Louis-style rib is a spare pork rib trimmed into an even rectangular cut where the breastbone, chewy connective tissue, and brisket—the triangular flap or rib tips—are removed. This cut makes the ribs flatter and allows even browning during the cooking process. The popular rib cut originated in St. Louis, MO, where small meat packers began removing the rib tips to give customers an option with more meat and less waste.
This cut has straight rib bones without cartilage and small bones at the bottom. As a result, St. Louis ribs tend to be longer than baby backs and are shorter than full spare ribs. St. Louis Ribs are the preferred cut on the competition barbecue circuit due to their aesthetically pleasing straight rib bone, which presents well to the judges.
Baby Back Ribs
Despite their name, these ribs don’t come from baby pigs, but the cut’s famous name is a nod to its petite size. Baby backs tend to have shorter bones and leaner meat, while spare ribs are typically fattier for juicy meat. Also known as loin ribs, baby backs originate from the upper portion of the rib cage that connects to the spine. They are curvier and shorter than spareribs, with lean meat between and on the bones. Because they’re smaller, they take less time to cook. A typical full slab has 11 to 13 bones. The slab is tapered at one end, with the shortest bones only about 3″ and the longest about 6″.
Baby back ribs are also known as:
Back Ribs, Loin Back Ribs, Canadian Back Ribs
Beef Rib Primer
Beef ribs have grown in popularity in the barbecue world and are often called “brisket on a stick.” Beef ribs are larger and meatier than pork ribs. They are marbled with a buttery, gelatinous fat running through them that, when cooked, helps tenderize and flavor the meat. They also have more connective tissue than pork ribs, so it is vital to make sure you are preparing and cooking them properly to ensure you end up with delicious, tender beef. Beef ribs require more attention than pork ribs to get them right.
Beef Rib Guide
Beef Short Ribs
Beef short ribs are popular for outdoor cooking because of the large amount of meat on top of the bones. Short ribs are almost flat, can reach 12″ in length, and often have 1 to 2″ of meat on top. Some cuts result in meatier pieces that are better for smoking or barbecuing, whereas others are thinner and better for braising or grilling.
The different variations of cuts include:
Plate Short Ribs, Chuck Short Ribs, English Style Cut, Flanken/Tablita Style Ribs, Beef Dino Ribs
Plate Short Ribs: Brisket on a Stick
Plate short ribs come from the lower portion of the rib cage, known as the short plate. The short plate sits between the delicious brisket cut in front of it and the flank steak cut behind it. You may not be able to find plate short ribs cut the way you like at the grocery store, so your local butcher may be your best option. Plate short ribs are best smoked low and slow, allowing the fat to render down, making the ribs very juicy and tender.
Chuck Short Ribs
You’ll find chuck short ribs closer towards the front of the steer right under the chuck, which sits above the shank and brisket. Like the plate short ribs, the chuck ribs are still very meaty but shorter in length, usually 3″ to 6″.
English Style Cut
The English style cut is the most common for short ribs. It means they have been cut between the ribs to separate them, resulting in a thick piece of meat sitting on top of the bones.
Flanken and Tablita Style Ribs
Flanken means “flank” in German and in Yiddish, and it refers to short ribs (the ribs that span from the back toward the belly of the cow) cut across the bones. Flanken-style short ribs are thinner cut, usually about a half-inch thick, that go across the bones—resulting in a narrower strip of meat with four to five pieces of bone. Your butcher can also cut Chuck short rib this way.
Tablita is a Spanish word meaning ‘little planks.’ Tablitas or Costilla de Res, are easy and quick to cook.
Flanken / Tablita style ribs are also known as:
Bone-In Beef Short Ribs, Cross-Cut Ribs, Cross-Cut Short Ribs, Korean Short Ribs
Beef Dino Ribs
Beef short ribs, or “dino ribs,” come from the short plate before the 10th rib and have more meat than baby back or English cut ribs. They can also be cut into smaller portions and sold as beef short ribs.
Removing the Membrane
Removing the membrane, also known as the “silver skin” before cooking will allow you to season the meat rather than the membrane, and help the ribs stay juicy and tender. Just follow these simple steps:
- Unwrap the ribs and pat them dry with paper towels.
- Place the ribs on a clean cutting board so the concave side is facing up and the curved side of the ribs is flat against the board.
- Use a knife to get beneath the membrane. Lift the membrane with the dull edge of the knife. Work your finger into the gap between the bone and membrane. Use a dry paper towel to grip the membrane and pull up and away from the ribs.
Cooking ribs on a rib rack maximizes the number of slabs you can cook at one time while keeping the meat further from the cooking source for slower, sustained cooking. You can use the rib rack with unwrapped or wrapped ribs. Since rib meat is naturally tougher than many other cuts, cooking them low and slow will ensure a tender, juicy outcome. and poultry or can be flipped over to serve as an efficient rib rack. The Big Green Egg Rib and Roast Rack is a dual purpose, stainless steel EGGcessory that can be used upright to hold roasts or be flipped over to be used as a rib rack.
Dry Rubs and Sauces
There are endless options for seasoning your smoked ribs, based on personal preference and taste. Big Green Egg Seasonings offer a variety of flavors from which to choose. Rub onto the ribs about 30 minutes before you cook them. To add extra flavor, you can toast the seasonings in a cast iron skillet on the EGG over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat to cool.
If finger-licking sauce is your thing, the Big Green Egg Authentic Smokehouse-Style Barbecue Sauces are the way to go. Brush your ribs with your favorite sauce 15 minutes before you remove them from the EGG. Serve as a side for dipping.
Check out the Big Green Egg Habanero, Dill Pickle, or Cayenne Hot Sauces if you want to kick up the flavor to add some heat.
The 3-2-1 method is used to cook ribs in 3-time blocks so they develop deep flavor and with very tender meat. With ribs, there’s a fine line between tender and mushy. Most rib connoisseurs prefer their rib meat with a bit of chew, a perceptible bit of resistance. When wrapped with Big Green Egg Butcher Paper, the moist heat can soften the bark a bit—the smoky, crusty exterior of the ribs highly prized by pit masters. The 3-2-1 method is a great starting place to find your balance of flavor and texture.
#1: Start your ribs low and slow with indirect heat (using the convEGGtor) at 225° F for 3-4 hours.
#2: Wrap in Big Green Egg Butcher Paper, return to heat for another 1-2 hours.
#3: Unwrap and brush with your favorite Big Green Egg Sauce or Seasonings and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour.
To Wrap or Not?
If you do choose to wrap your ribs, Big Green Egg Butcher Paper is perfect for wrapping smoked meats to prevent moisture loss at the end of the cooking period, keeping the meat tender and juicy. The natural fibers allow the meat to breathe and develop a smoky flavor and crunchy bark, and helps decrease the cook time of your favorite barbecued meats.
The Big Green Egg Butcher Paper features:
- FDA approved, unbleached paper with no wax or coating to affect the flavor of the food with 100% food-grade inks
- Butcher paper doesn’t reflect heat like aluminum foil; this allows you to easily maintain consistent cooking temperatures
- Ideal for barbecue; the paper will not fall apart when soaked in oil or food juices
- Makes a great presentation for serving your perfect ribs