Pork ribs are all about love.
If you are smoking them, baking them, or grilling them on your own — hopefully with a homemade backyard smoker — you know that that this form of BBQ rib love involves both labor and time.
Eating some delicious barbecue baby back ribs or St. Louis-style spare ribs can also be a very, very challenging and messy experience. The time, effort, and mess are all well worth it for one reason: Flavor.
Even beyond the flavor of delicious BBQ ribs, there is something primal about eating meat right off the bone. It is even better if it is cooked just right so that the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.
Or better yet, what if they don’t have a bone to begin with?
Country-style ribs are usually boneless
Country-style pork ribs are one of our favorite cuts of pork. However, very rarely do they have bones in them like standard smokehouse pork ribs.
Country-style ribs don’t actually come from the rib area of a pig. Instead, they come from the shoulder area — specifically from the fatty, muscular section of the shoulder blade near the loin. When country-style ribs have a bone in them, it is not rib bone but the scapula or shoulder blade.
“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,” says Head ButcherBox Chef Yankel Polak.
They’re still called ribs, however, because they are similar to standard ribs in terms of flavor and consistency.
What makes country-style ribs most appealing is that they are meatier than baby back or other ribs, and they have some fat marbling, which makes cooking boneless country-style ribs on the grill more manageable than standard bone-in ribs.
“The truth is that they are absolutely delicious and fairly tender,” Chef Yankel says.
Cooking country-style ribs
Just like spare ribs, baby back ribs and the like, they are phenomenal in a slow cooker on low heat for anywhere between a few hours or an entire day.
They are also great with a great dry rub but are phenomenal when grilled or slow-cooked in a Crock-Pot or dutch oven with a great marinade or BBQ sauce.
“Marinating these country-style boneless ribs for a day or two in advance will definitely increase the flavor, and, potentially make them fall-off-the-bone tender,” suggests Chef Yankel.
Boneless ribs, similar to beef short ribs, are best with sweet sauces. Try a standard barbecue sauce, a sauce heavy on brown sugar or maple syrup, a ginger or chili-based marinade, apple cider vinegar, or some other fruit-based sauce.
“I like to grill country ribs slowly over low heat with a really sticky sauce,” Chef Yankel explains. “Then, I blast them over high heat to get a nice char.”
Grilling or slow-cooking country-style ribs aren’t the only way to prepare them. They can be sliced thin and cooked in a stir-fry, or pan-braised and finished on a baking sheet in an oven.
But be prepared. You are most likely going to eat country-style ribs with your hands, and you are going to make a mess.
But it will be worth it.
If you want some advice, check out some of the easy recipes we recommend and sign up for a ButcherBox that includes our heritage-breed, pasture-raised pork.
Here is one of our favorite rib recipes from Chef Yankel. It is a perfect dish for spring.
Boneless Country Style Ribs with Chimichurri Pesto & Jicama Slaw
- 1 pack ButcherBox Boneless Country Style Ribs
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 bunches cilantro
- 1 c Italian parsley leaves
- 8 cloves garlic
- ¾ c lime juice
- zest of 1 lime
- ¾ c Cotija cheese, finely grated
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ½ c avocado oil
- 2 jicama, peeled and julienned
- 3 carrots, peeled and julienned
- ½ head purple cabbage, shredded
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
Pear Vinaigrette for Slaw:
- ¾ c pear nectar
- ¼ c apple cider vinegar
- ½ c avocado oil
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- Mix paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt and pepper in a bowl.
- Rub spices all over Boneless Country Style Ribs, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hrs.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Preheat sauté pan or grill pan, and add oil. Once oil is hot, sear ribs on both sides for 7 min per side.
- Place ribs in oven for 15 min, or until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part reads 135°F.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 5 min before serving.
- Place all ingredients for chimichurri pesto in blender and blend for 2 min.
- Remove pesto from blender and place in serving bowl. When ready to serve, ladle on top of ribs.
- Place vinegar, pear juice, salt and pepper in blender.
- Blend at low speed while adding oil at a steady drizzle.
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl and toss with pear vinaigrette. Serve alongside ribs.