The Ribs Primer
What they are: This intensely beefy variety comes from the cow’s lower rib cage, just like many short ribs. But the cut is different: Flanken are sliced across the bones into thin slabs about 3 ribs wide; short ribs are usually cut between the bones. Plan on 1 piece of flanken (about ¾ pound) per person.
How to prepare them: Grill over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes per side. Alternatively, braise them.
What they are: Sold in rectangular 2- to 3-inch pieces, short ribs, which can come from the cow’s chuck or middle rib area, have thick layers of meat and fat that give the cut a rich taste. Plan on 2 short ribs (about 1 pound total) per person.
How to prepare them: Because short ribs are prone to toughness, they are rarely grilled. Braise them instead.
What they are: These large, irregularly sized ribs come from a pig’s underbelly, or lower rib cage (that’s also the source of, mmm, bacon). Spareribs aren’t as meaty as baby backs, but they’re very tasty, thanks to a generous amount of fat. A full rack has about 13 ribs and weighs 3 to 4 pounds. Plan on 1½ pounds per person.
How to prepare them: Trim excess fat, precook for 2½ to 3 hours, then grill over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes.
St. Louis-Style Ribs
What they are: A trimmed down version of pork spareribs, this midwestern favorite has a fatty strip of cartilage and the connective tissue removed. The result is a more delicate cut that is easy to handle and cooks more evenly than some regular spareribs. A full rack has about 13 ribs and weighs about 2½ pounds. Plan on 1½ pounds per person.
How to prepare them: Precook for 2½ to 3 hours, then grill over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes.