The topic of BBQ ribs is not one to be taken lightly, particularly in the United States, where it’s treated as an almost sacred culinary art form. This guide sheds light on what makes BBQ ribs such a significant dish, examining the different types of ribs, their preparation, and the all-important rub.
Note: This guide comes from an Italian expert in various cooking courses and recipes. For more information, I’d suggest looking at the gull full BBQ Ribs guide here.
Types of Ribs
First and foremost, it’s crucial to understand the anatomy of the ribs. In the USA, three primary cuts exist: Spare ribs, Baby back ribs, and the St. Louis Cut. Spare ribs are located closer to the sternum, Baby back ribs are closer to the ribcage, and the St. Louis Cut is essentially a trimmed version of spare ribs. Each cut offers a unique texture and flavour profile, enhancing the BBQ experience.
The Importance of the Rub
Beyond the types, the rub is a quintessential aspect of BBQ ribs. A combination of various spices and seasoning, the rub determines the final taste and appearance of the dish. The basic rub usually comprises salt, sugar, paprika, pepper, and powdered garlic and onion. Still, there is always room for improvisation with other spices.
For the novice BBQ enthusiast, a shopping list for the basic rub would include 50g of chilli powder, 60g of brown sugar, 75g of salt, 30g of black pepper, 30g of ground cumin, 15g of garlic powder, 15g of onion powder, 15g of paprika, and 5g of ground Cayenne pepper. After mixing these in an adequately sized container, the remaining rub can be stored for future use.
The European Perspective
While Americans approach ribs with a sense of ritual, the concept is more relaxed in countries like Italy. In Italy, the ribcage is often grilled as a whole or baked, and the term “ribs” usually refers to any piece coming from the ribcage of an animal, lacking the strict definitions found in the USA.