You're likely familiar with pork spare ribs and back ribs, but you may also come across country style pork ribs. What cut are these ribs, and how do you cook them?
As a seasoned chef and avid meat enthusiast, I've dedicated many hours to meticulously experimenting with various pork recipes, exploring diverse cooking techniques.
My collaboration with fellow chefs has led to fine insights, particularly in crafting the perfect country style ribs. Below you will find my findings.
- Country style ribs, also known as Western-style ribs, can refer to different cuts of pork and are sold either bone-in or boneless.
- Country style rib chops come from the shoulder end of the loin, while country style pork shoulder ribs are cut from the butt, often sold boneless and ideal for pulled pork.
- These ribs can be grilled, smoked, or cooked in a crockpot, with the method varying depending on the specific cut of the ribs.
What Are Country Style Ribs?
Country style ribs stand for various pork cuts, unlike specific rib or chop cuts. Also known as "Western-style ribs," they can be bone-in or boneless, sourced from different hog sections.
You can easily get this cut of meat from ButcherBox and have it delivered to the comfort of your home.
1. Bone-in Ribs
Country style ribs are cut from where the loin and shoulder meet. They're a combination of higher fat and lean meat and are sold as slabs or individual servings – perfect for those who want to use a knife and fork instead of eating ribs off the bone."
- US National Pork Board
In practice, butchers cut country style ribs from two parts of the hog, as Danilo Alfaro, former chef, and food authority, explains .
Country Style Rib Chops
Most boneless country style ribs are essentially pork rib chops, made by splitting the shoulder end of the loin down the middle.
They consist of a narrow section of rib bone, a narrow section of feather bone, and the meat attached to each.
Pork Shoulder Country Style Ribs
Some butchers cut pork ribs from the fatty, muscular Boston butt, which means they are cross-sections of the shoulder blade, cut into pieces.
So the bone you find in these ribs is a scapula or shoulder blade, not rib bone at all.
The name country style ribs is sort of a misnomer; they don't have any of the appearances of ribs when we think of pork ribs."
- Head Chef Yankel Polak of Butcher Box
This cut is referred to as a rib because of the similarities of the meat's flavor and consistency to spare ribs, with the bonus of meatiness and fat marbling, making them tender and delicious.
2. Boneless Ribs
Unlike their boned counterparts, boneless ribs are usually from the shoulder.
Boneless Pork Shoulder Country Style Pork Ribs
These ribs are luscious strips of pork chops cut off the shoulder bone, almost like shoulder steaks. They taste different than your traditional ribs.
Christine Gallary, recipe developer, and culinary instructor describes these ribs as having "nice marbling and great flavor," suggesting that this cut is better boneless (without the shoulder blade section) than bone-in . Some people still like to add their favorite BBQ sauce as well.
A country style ribs recipe is one of the juiciest and fattiest rib-style cuts you can find and is best tackled with a knife and fork unless you like a full-body rib-eating experience.
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How to Cook Country Style Ribs
Cooking methods for country style ribs vary due to different cuts and boneless nature.
Because the cut of country style ribs can differ from butcher to butcher, and because they are often boneless strips of meat, the cooking method will vary depending on which type of country style pork ribs you have, such as slow cooking.
There are three main ways to cook boneless country style ribs: grilling, smoking, and crockpot cooking, each of which suits a particular type of cut.
Check whether you're getting ribs from the loin or shoulder with your butcher.
How to Grill Country Style Ribs With BBQ Sauce
If your slow-cooked country style ribs are the pork rib chops from the loin, then grilling them with BBQ sauce is your best bet as the meat is leaner.
"They are pork chops, meatier and less fatty than real ribs, and should be cooked like chops, not ribs." - "Meathead" Goldwyn
So, feel free to marinade your country style ribs in a sweet BBQ sauce, brine them with a dry rub, baste them with a spicy BBQ sauce, and flavor them with smoke. Sear over direct flames for a delicious char.
Try this mouth-watering country style ribs recipe, where you cook the ribs with a tangy mustard barbecue sauce, Carolina-style.
You can also grill boneless country style pork ribs, either in whole pieces, like kebabs or chopped in a grill pan as part of a stir-fry.
These cuts cook quickly as they are boneless and remain juicy from their marbled fat, unlike some beef short ribs recipes.
How to Smoke Country Style Pork Ribs
For slow-cooked, fatty country style ribs, smoking is a great choice over indirect heat.
Unlike traditional rib cuts, like spare ribs or baby back ribs, pork shoulder ribs don't handle extended smoking due to their nature. Basting won't prevent them from drying out.
''Boneless country style ribs "are a great option when you are trying to get food on the table in a relatively short period." - Jeff Phillips, a star smoker
You can put these on just after lunch and they'll be ready for dinner" .
Here's how to smoke boneless country style ribs with Grill and Smoke BBQ.
Read More: Smoking Country Style Pork Ribs
How to Cook These Ribs in a Crockpot
Boneless country style ribs are perfect for crockpot cooking.
Prepare them with the same BBQ sauce flavors you'd use for baby back ribs, and let them simmer for a few hours or even a whole day using a slow cooking process.
You can also prepare them Asian-style, with ginger, chili, and fruit.
Try these sweet and sour slow-cooker country ribs.
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