A Buyer's Guide to Ribs

A Buyer's Guide to Ribs

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Invaluable tips that will come in handy at the meat counter when shopping for ribs, plus an overview of the different cuts

Spice-Rubbed Beef Short Ribs

Few summer barbecue experiences can trump sinking your teeth into a perfectly grilled, sauce-smothered rib. But if you're new to the rib game, weighing your options at the meat counter can seem a little daunting — there are so many choices!

Click here to see A Buyer's Guide to Ribs Slideshow

Luckily, with the right game plan and a little help from your butcher, you really can't go wrong. Here are a few key questions to consider to help you get started:

How much time are you working with?

Rule number one for preparing drool-worthy ribs is to cook them slowly, but that doesn't mean the process has to take days. Are you buying your ribs the day of the gathering? Will you have a few hours to let them slow-cook before finishing them off on the grill?

  • Pork and beef ribs will need a good marinade (apple cider, orange juice… the options are endless) and about three to four hours of slow-cooking before you finish them on the grill. If you don't have time the day of, you can slow-cook your ribs the day before your gathering and grill them right before serving.
  • If you're craving beef ribs, but don't have three hours for slow-cooking — ask your butcher for "flanken-style" beef short ribs. They are cut thinner, need just a quick marinade, and then are ready for the grill! If you're going for larger cuts, try the Spice-Rubbed Beef Short Ribs.
  • Nothing beats the juicy, rich, and complex flavor of slow-cooked baby back ribs. Try poaching these pork ribs and then marinating them overnight before grilling to perfection with our Asian-Style Baby Back Ribs recipe. If you want to save a little time, use both a dry rub and a sauce and turn up the heat on the grill.

How many people are you serving?

If you're feeding the whole block, your best bargain options are pork spareribs, St. Louis-style pork ribs, and boneless beef chuck ribs. All three options offer plenty of delicious meat per rib for a great value price. On the other hand, if you're hosting a smaller gathering and want to go all out on flavor and texture, slow-cooking short ribs or baby back ribs is the way to go.

What flavor are you going for? Smoky, sweet, savory?

If you're asking around for the best rib recipe, be prepared to take notes! The topic has sparked many a heated debate, and every grillmeister boasts a master technique or secret sauce that’s "to die for." The truth is, as long as you get the timing right, the sky's the limit. Stock your pantry for serious summer rubs and marinades or test out these tried-and-true prep tips:

  • Dry-rubs: These mixes of dry spices and salts draw the moisture out of the meat to create a flavorful sauce-like coating. The key is striking a sweet, spicy, and savory balance that brings out the best flavors in the meat. Stay away from adding sugar or molasses, as that will burn the ribs. Just rinse raw ribs, pat them dry, and rub on a healthy dose of seasoning. Let ribs rest in your refrigerator for eight to 24 hours to let the flavors sink in before cooking. To play up the flavor of pork ribs, try this Hot and Sweet Spice Rub. For beef ribs, bold spices like this BBQ Beef Chile Rub and Coffee Cure or black peppercorn and mustard work beautifully. (Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market)
  • Wet Marinades: These liquid seasonings, like Fresh Mango Marinade or a simple combo of citrus juices, brown sugars (go easy on the sugars), and vinegars, help to tenderize and enhance the flavor of meat. Whether you're using a wet marinade on its own, or in addition to a dry-rub, let meat marinate for at least 60 minutes before grilling. Wet marinades can also act as a great baste throughout cooking to intensify flavor and boost moisture. (Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market)
  • Glazes: Finish off your ribs by brushing on a Hibiscus-Orange Glaze or barbecue sauce, but wait until the final hour of grilling. This allows the charcoal flavor to penetrate your food first and keeps the sauce from charring.

Theo Weening, global meat coordinator for Whole Foods Market

Survival Bread Recipes

Traditionally, survival bread has gone by many names, such as hard tack, ship biscuits, molar breakers and other colorful phrases not suitable to repeat here. No matter the name, the recipes called for flour, water, maybe salt and some time in the oven.

While those recipes are still used today, modern survival bread is different in a few ways. For starters, most prepared people aren't storing just flour and water. They have a variety of ingredients in storage, including oil, sugar, seasonings, powdered milk, dehydrated eggs and more.

With that in mind, “survival bread” is anything you can make using these stored items. Sure, flour and water will still get the job done. But there are other survival bread recipes that are just as simple and offer some much needed variety.

Here are two I recently tried.

Survival Bread Recipe #1: Applesauce Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (can be re-constituted powdered milk)
  • 1 yeast packet
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup applesauce

Heat the milk until it's warm, then mix it all up. Let it rise in a bowl for 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees for another 30 minutes.

Ten key RIB buying considerations

  1. Is their proper support and protection at the helm?
  2. Is the deck capable of shedding water efficiently?
  3. Are there plenty of strong, well-positioned grabbing points?
  4. Is there an area for genuine dry storage?
  5. Are there non-slip surfaces underfoot and on the tube-tops?
  6. Is the payload sufficient for your passengers and equipment?
  7. Are there decent reserves of power for watersports?
  8. Is the seating/deck space ratio appropriate for your intended use?
  9. Is the build quality, fit-out and finish up to standard?
  10. It might look good on paper but does it match your expectations on the water?


Start your rib smoking prep process by rinsing the rib rack in cool water. This will clear away any bones from the butchering process. Next, many people will advise you to remove the membrane from the bottom side of the ribs as the membrane tends to be chewier. If you’ve got a nice butcher, they may have already removed the membrane for you. But, if not, the process is super easy:

  1. Dry your rib rack using a paper towel.
  2. Flip your rack so that it’s lying bone side up.
  3. Insert a knife and make a slit under the membrane.
  4. Slide your fingers between the ribs and the membrane and begin to pull back on the first three bones.
  5. Grip those connected pieces with a paper towel (better traction) and begin to pull the membrane off. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t peel off in one satisfying chunk. It may take a few tries.

Pro Tip: If it’s your first time, you don’t need to spend 30 minutes peeling the membrane off in frustration. There is a good chunk of the rib smoking population that leaves the membrane on completely. It takes practice. (If you decide to leave the membrane on we highly suggest scoring the ribs.)

How to Smoke Brats

Here’s our guide on how to smoke brats, followed by our simple smoked brats recipe!

What Temperature to Smoke Brats

Bratwurst should be smoked at 225°F. It’s ok to be a little bit below that or a little bit above, but just make sure the temperature is below 275°F. Keep in mind that a higher ambient temperature in your smoker will lead to a reduced cooking time.

How Long to Smoke Brats

Brats will typically spend about 1.5 to 2 hours on the smoker, depending on the type of brat, size of brat, and how hot your smoker is running.

Those times are just for reference. Keep in mind that you should be cooking your brats until they reach a safe internal temperature of 160°F.

Especially when using a smoker, it’s best to have a probe thermometer on hand to measure your food’s internal temperature. That’s the only way you can know for sure whether or not your food is cooked all the way through before taking it off of the smoker.

Serving Smoked Brats

There are a few traditional sides that you should offer with your bratwurst! Namely, it’s a good idea to have buns (wheat, white, or pretzel) on hand to be able to enjoy your brats hot dog style. Additionally, sauerkraut, chopped onion, gourmet mustard, yellow mustard, and bier cheese are also great toppings!

If you are serving brats at a cookout and need to keep them warm for an extended period of time, the best (and most flavorful) way to do it is with a beer bath.

  • 9 x 11 inch foil pan
  • 36 oz beer (pale lagers are our favorite for brats)
  • 1 sliced yellow onion
  • 2 tbsp butter

Simply combine the beer, sliced onion, and butter in the foil pan. Place the pan on your smoker and bring smoker temperature to 160-180°F. You can leave the lid open if you need to help get the temperature down. Add cooked brats to the beer bath pan to keep warm until serving!

Unique Bison Cuts & Recipes

Place 1 buffalo tongue in cooking pot and cover with water. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Simmer until the outer skin looks blistered and begins to peel, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Peel the skin and serve hot, sliced for sandwiches, chopped and made into tacos and more!.

Crock-Pot Buffalo Heart

1 package. stove top dressing

To prepare the beef heart for cooking, cut away all the fat, connective tissue, valves, etc. It will be obvious by sight what’s good to eat and what’s not. You want clean dense muscle only. Cut the heart into slices. Prepare dressing according to instruction. In crock-pot, place layers of dressing and sliced heart. Season to taste. Cook 6 hours on low.

Roasted Bison Marrow Bones with Polenta and Southwest Salad

Anita Shaver l Direct Design, Inc.

6 pieces of bison femur bones cut lengthwise 4-5 inches long

1 package polenta sliced about 1/4 inch thick (3 pieces per bone)

Olive oil for browning polenta

Ingredients Southwest Style Salad

2 packed cups of micro or baby greens

2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 small jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and minced-more if you like it hot

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons avocado oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the salad first by combining the first six salad ingredients in a bowl and toss to mix. Combine the avocado oil, lime juice and vinegar in a separate bowl and whisk. Drizzle the liquid mixture over the salad and gently toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until marrow bones are done.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season bones liberally with salt, place cut side up in a baking pan and cook until marrow is soft and has started to separate from the bone, 15 to 20 minutes. (Stop before marrow begins to run). While bones roast, brown the polenta rounds in a pan with small amount of olive oil.

To serve, place the bones and polenta on a platter and put the salad in in a bowl. Use a butter knife to scoop out the marrow, spread on polenta then top with salad and enjoy.

Braised Buffalo Short Ribs With Sage Polenta

Mark Miller l Coyote Café, Santa Fe, NM

Food Photography l Jason McConathy

Recipe Styling l Cook Street School of Fine Cooking – Denver, CO

4 buffalo short ribs (about 1 lb. each)
salt and freshly ground pepper

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large white onions, quartered

2 12-ounce bottles of dark beer

1 small dried chile, such as arbol or cayenne

1 ounce dried mushrooms, chopped

1 Tablespoons puréed chipotles in adobo

1 1/2 Tablespoons tomato paste

8 ounces small fresh mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 375°. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and brown them evenly in the oil in a flameproof casserole or ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat, 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

When dark golden brown, add the carrots, onions, garlic, bay leaves, tomatoes, beef stock, and one bottle of beer, mixing well. Cover tightly and place in the oven for 2 hours. Make sure the lid is on tight and liquids do not evaporate. After braising for 2 hours, remove from the oven, take the ribs out of the stock, and let the juices run through a sieve into a bowl. Discard the cooked vegetables. Skim the fat off the surface of the braising juices and return juices to the pan.

Return the ribs to the pan and add the chile, dried mushrooms, puréed chipotles, prunes, tomato paste, fresh mushrooms, and the remaining bottle of beer. Place the pan on top of the stove over very low heat with the lid on tight. Cook for 1 hour. Skim the fat off the surface of the rib sauce before serving. Serve 1 buffalo rib over the polenta. Spoon the sauce on top. You can also refrigerate the dish it will keep for up to 3 days.

2 cups water or chicken stock

3/4 cup stone-ground cornmeal or high-quality polenta

2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Bring the water to a strong simmer in a heavy saucepan over high heat and add salt. Add the cornmeal in a steady stream, incorporating with a whisk to prevent lumps. Reduce the heat and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook the polenta, stirring for 8 to 10 minutes until a thick porridge forms. Add the heavy cream, butter, cheese, and sage and stir to incorporate.

Take your health to a new level with bison bone broth

Homemade bone broth is delicious, economical and incredibly healthy (unlike what you find in the grocery store). It is made from left over bones. When buying bison in bulk you will have plenty of bones. Bison bones can also be purchase at specialty meat markets. Once you ’ ve made your broth, freeze it in 2 to 4 cup containers. Then you can be used in any recipe calling for broth, as a base for sauces and soups or simply drink a warm cup regularly. Bison Bone Broth has amazing health benefits. The gelatin in bone broth helps seal holes in intestines. This can help with chronic diarrhea, constipation, and even some food intolerances. Bone broth protect your joints- better than taking glucosamine supplements. Bone broth is packed with collagen, commonly used in beauty treatments. Get Better Sleep- glycine in bone broth promotes better sleep and improves memory. Bone marrow ’ s high concentration of minerals help promote immune system health. Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in bone broth are the foundation for strong bones.

A Buyer's Guide to Ribs - Recipes

Short Ribs with Louisiana Barbecue Sauce

This terrific southern specialty teams sweet with spicy for a satisfying meal you must experience.

Season both sides of the short ribs evenly with Meat Magic ® seasoning blend*. Cook bacon in 4- or 6-quart pressure cooker at medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon set aside. Add onion to pressure cooker saute until onion is brown on the edges. Remove onion set aside. Brown short ribs, a few at a time, in the pan drippings and set aside. Place rack in cooker, then add short ribs and water to cooker. Close cover securely. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe. COOK 25 MINUTES at 15 pounds pressure with pressure regulator rocking slowly. Let pressure drop of its own accord.

Remove ribs and discard all but 1/2 cup of liquid in cooker. Add reserved bacon and onion and remaining ingredients. Be sure to spread the remaining ingredients evenly. Close cover securely. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe. COOK 10 MINUTES at 15 pounds pressure with pressure regulator rocking slowly. Cool cooker at once. Remove ribs and sauce to serving platter, discarding orange and lemon slices.

* If you prefer, substitute the following for Chef Paul Prudhomme's Meat Magic ® seasoning blend: 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.

** If you prefer, substitute the following for Chef Paul Prudhomme's Magic Pepper Sauce ® : 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.

You can prepare potatoes in a variety of fashions – fries, tots, mash, gnocchi, pancakes. Any way you’re making them, you’re making magic too. And that sentiment has never been truer than when you’re making marijuana hash brown potatoes – the only hash browns that puts McDonalds’s to shame.

Ranking among Belgian Beers and Belgian Chocolates, Belgian Waffles may be the greatest export that Belgium has today. The only difference here is that this fluffy fella has taken a quick stop in Amsterdam as well!

What to look for when buying a Best Propane Smoker?

Choosing a best propane smoker to buy is different from an offset smoker, we know that very well. A propane smoker is supposed to give a consistent and long-lasting performance. They have to withstand external temperatures and harsh environments. Having this point mentioned, you have to first look for it its construction and built-up quality.

Top-rated propane smoker usually employs heavy-duty stainless steel to construct the peripheral body. The legs on which the smoking box stand must be compact, sturdy, and strong enough to carry the load of the smoking box.

Another aspect that is worth mentioning here is the insulation. Stronger the insulation, stronger the heat-retention, better the is smoking game. Therefore make sure that the propane smoker you are going to buy has a well-built construction quality and improved insulation system.

Compact size: In pursuit of the compact size, many propane smokers have the cooking chamber that is not capacious enough to accommodate rib racks. You need to cut down the pieces of meat to fit them in the box. Therefore the solution to this is checking out the width of the chamber.

This would give you an estimate of the smoking capacity of the chamber. However, don’t ignore the fact that being compact is equally essential for the smoker for it will fit in smaller areas. Compare the dimensions of the smoker with the area where you have to place the smoker, this would help you in buying the appropriate smoker.

Doors: The companies have introduced smokers with various styles of doors. Most of them have a single door, and on the flip side, there are two doors separate for both chambers. A dual-door system is normally preferred over a single door because of the compliance it provides.

Firstly heat is not lost and the temperatures do not get disturbed when you open the top door. Secondly, the gateway to wood-chip tray and water-pan is the second door for refilling the extinguished fuel.

Quality of cooking grills: Cooking grates are the primary elements in the smoking box. Hence there durability and reliability are the significant factors to foresee. Most of the manufacturers have their cooking grates made up of stainless steel or cast iron.

The grills are either chrome-plated or they are given a porcelain furnish. Such enameling enhances its performance. As they are subjected to regular cleaning, the top coating protects them from corrosion and rust. Along with the grilling racks, a bonus point will be the coated finish of the wood-chip tray and water pan.

Burners: The burners are the heating elements of the smokers. Since smoking is a time-consuming activity, the burners have to provide continuous flames. The burners installed in the propane smokers have different powers that are measured in the British Thermal Unit or BTUs. Burners with high BTUs are considered efficient in providing continuous heat throughout. The burners are powered by the propane tank. The fuel gauge on the propane tank indicates the level of propane in the tank, this allows you to arrange a backup tank if required.

Thermometers: These temperature gauges indicate the internal temperature of the chamber. However, it is observed that the thermometers start indicating inaccurate measurements after some time. Analog temperature gauges are now considered as an inefficient method of indicating temperatures. But the solution to this problem is a digital thermometer. Install in a digital thermometer for knowing the accurate temperature.

The Dessert

Whether you’re of the frozen pumpkin pie camp like my mom or prefer a homemade sweet potato pie, the toaster oven can handle it for you. No need to have a dessert that accidentally tastes like beef or a turkey with an essence of warming cinnamon by baking them at the same time. Since the Breville can also hold up to 13-by-9-inch pans and has two racks, it’s easy to bake off a few dozen cookies for holiday decorating. And because you won’t be fighting for oven space on Christmas, it makes them taste all that much sweeter.


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