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Baby Back Ribs

"Baby" does not mean that the ribs have come from a young pig; rather, it refers to the size of the ribs.

Baby Back Ribs are cut from the upper rib cage in the blade and centre section of the pork primal loin. This is the very end of the rib section, where the ribs get very small, and become almost just cartilage.

Alternatively, they may be the portion of the rib bone closest to the backbone. The rib bone is cut in two, with the larger piece going to the spare rib, and the shorter portion of the bone going to the Baby Back Ribs.

Baby Back Ribs will have at least 8 ribs in a slab, and up to 14 ribs, but generally, you can expect between 12 and 13 ribs.

A slab of baby back ribs will weigh 1 1/2 to 3 pounds (700g to 1 1/3 kg.) Slabs with less weight are considered better as they are from younger pigs.

Baby Back Ribs don't have as much fat as spare ribs do. This lack of fat in them means they won't stand up to low and slow cooking, as other ribs can. It also means more meat, but meat that is also less tender and more chewier.

Cooking Tips

Remove the membrane.

Don't boil first, or they will come out dry and tough. Baby Back Ribs can be overcooked and become dried out very quickly.

Allow 1 rack for two people.

Even barbequers (as in the pit kind) will agree that Baby Back Ribs are best grilled (as in cooked over a flame.) They can be cooked over hot, direct heat, so they are best for backyard bbq (gas grill.)

Set ribs out of fridge for 1/2 hour before starting, to allow them to warm up a bit. Some people like to marinate first for 24 to 48 hours. On a gas grill, grill at first over high heat for a minute or two on each side, just to give them a nice look, then lower the heat down to moderate low, or move to another part of the grill with that temperature. Turn frequently for 5 to 6 minutes, then brush your choice of bbq sauce, and continue cooking for another 5 to 6 minutes. To check for doneness, insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, or cut one bone away from the rack to inspect.

On a grill over coals, the cooking time will be about 20 to 30 minutes in total.

Other people prefer to cook them in a smoker at about 225 F / 110 C for about 6 hours

Cover with a sauce -- BBQ sauce, steak sauce, etc -- and cook at a moderate heat about 325 F / 160 C. Then finish under the broiler (aka grill in the UK) to brown them.

Crock Pot
Cook on high until tender. Then put under broiler / grill to brown them off, then coat in sauce, then return to under broiler / grill until sauce is glazed.

Wrap loosely in tin foil, and bake at 250 F / 120 C for 4 to 5 hours until tender. Remove from foil, then put under broiler / grill to brown them off, coat in sauce, and return to under broiler / grill until sauce is glazed.

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Also called:

Canadian Back Ribs; Loin Back Ribs; Loin Ribs; Lendenrippchen (German)


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