Ribs: Finger-Licking Good

Priya Hutner

Are you a lover of ribs? Do you prefer pork or beef ? What makes a rib juicy and delicious? The chef who masters the preparation of ribs adds just the right amount of seasoning and sauce and cooks them just the right amount to create a tender, juicy and flavorful rib. Some lean toward a smoky flavor while others fancy a sweet and sour flavor. There are ribs made with a dry spicy rub or simply seasoned, while some ribs are slathered in a wet barbecue sauce.

Grilled, slow cooked, smoked or roasted, ribs are a delectable experience.

Ribs can be prepared so the meat remains firm on the bone or slow cooked so the meat falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. Grilled, slow cooked, smoked or roasted, ribs are a delectable experience and depending on which part of the country, or the world for that matter, that you’re in will determine the flavor, style and temperature.

READ MORE: Priya shares her recipe for grilled pork spare ribs 

Ribs from Riva Grill

Pork or beef
Let’s discus pork ribs. They are extremely versatile. There are two common types of pork ribs: spareribs and loin back ribs. Spareribs come from the belly of the pig while loin back ribs come from the loin. Spareribs are meatier, fatter and more flavorful. Loin ribs, often called baby back ribs are less meaty, less fatty and more tender than spareribs.

Beef ribs also come in two cuts: back ribs and short ribs. Back ribs come from the rib section of the cow. Short ribs come from the upper portion of the rib cage. Back ribs don’t have quite as much meat as the short ribs.

If you plan on cooking ribs at home, there are many ways they can be prepared: roasted in the oven, barbecued on a grill or cooked in a slow cooker or Dutch oven.

Ribs from West Shore Cafe

Picking & preparing
How do you pick out ribs? Choose pieces with meat coverage over the bones and ones that don’t have large areas of surface fat. Make sure to avoid rib slabs where the meat has been cut too close to the bone. And choose fresh ribs for best quality. Avoid buying frozen meat.

Next is preparation. First remove the membrane, then trim the slab and remove any excess fat. Now you are ready to whip up a meal.

Ribs are made different ways around the world. Chinese spareribs were one of my favorites as a kid. We’d often head to the local Chinese restaurant on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park, N.Y., for ribs or hop on the subway and head to Chinatown for Char Siu Ribs. The tender ribs were both savory and sweet.

In other parts of the world, ribs are cooked in a myriad of ways: Korean short ribs, which can be smoky, sweet, savory and spicy; Jamaican-style ribs made with jerk spice offer a kick of spicy with hints of scotch bonnet peppers; and Moroccan ribs are rubbed with cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric and salt. From Argentina to Europe and around the globe, ribs can be found on many menus.

Here in the states ribs are a delicacy. Texas-style ribs are all about the meat, the seasoning and the smoke. In St. Louis, ribs lean toward tomato and vinegar sauces with a sweet-and-sour flavor and a dash of hot pepper. Mustard-based barbecue sauces dominate South Carolina. In Memphis, there are two styles of ribs: dry and wet.

Wood for smoking in different regions also create signature flavors whether hickory, oak, pecan, apple or cherry.

Tahoe has a host of restaurants with rib dishes to tempt the most fickle rib palette. For some of the best ribs in Tahoe check out Moe’s Original BBQ in Tahoe City, Smokey’s Kitchen in Truckee, and Riva Grill On the Lake in South Lake Tahoe.

If you want to embark on home-cooked ribs, check out local butcher shops or ranchers at one of Tahoe’s farmers’ markets.

Grilled Pork Spareribs

From the kitchen of Priya Hutner

2½ lbs. Pork Spareribs

Dry Rub
1 T Salt
1 T Dry Mustard
1 T Paprika
1½ T Lemon Pepper
1 T Brown sugar
½ t Cayenne mix dry

Barbecue Sauce
1 C ketchup
3 T Dijon mustard
½ C red wine vinegar
¼ C soy sauce
¼ C maple syrup
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t salt
1 t pepper

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix dry spices together in a small bowl set aside.

Remove the thin membrane from the ribs by sliding fingers under the membrane and pulling off and discard. Rub dry rub onto both sides of ribs. Wrap in foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Prepare Barbeque sauce: Mix ketchup, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup and garlic in bowl and set aside.

Remove ribs from the oven and place on grill. Grill the ribs on each side for 15 minutes. Baste with barbecue sauce the last 10 minutes. Let the ribs rest 10 minutes before slicing into individual ribs.


Priya Hutner
Priya Hutner is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. She writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. Priya loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience. Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of the Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle. She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks. | priya@tahoethisweek.com