Ribs are a cut of meat, most commonly pork or beef, that is removed from the center portion of the animal near the rib cage. Different cuts of ribs tend to have varying textures, depending on the specific area of the animal’s rib section from which it is removed. For example, cuts of ribs removed from the side of the stomach may have a higher fat and cartilage percentage in comparison to meat than ribs removed from the center portion of the midsection. The cut of meat is often cooked in the broiler, the compartment in a stove that cooks food by positioning it underneath direct heat. Broiled ribs are often an indoor cooking substitution for outdoor grilling, which also uses direct heat.
Most broiled ribs recipes call for removing the thin, nearly transparent layer of tissue from the outside of the ribs. Known as the membrane, this film serves as a protective barrier in the animal but can prevent moisture from reaching the rib meat during the cooking process and result in dry, tough rib meat. It may be removed by peeling it off the top of the ribs and discarding it before cooking.
Broiled ribs do not tend to be cooked through with just the use of the broiler. Since the broiler uses such a close contact with direct heat, it may char the outsides of the ribs before the meat is cooked through. Many recipes often call for par-cooking the ribs, a process in which the ribs are partially cooked through using a different cooking method, such as baking or boiling, before being cooked in the broiler. The broiler is often used to give the outside of the ribs a crunchy texture and lightly charred flavor, with the other cooking technique being primarily used to gently heat the meat.
When making broiled ribs, the par-cooked ribs are usually heated on a broiler pan, a slotted pan that fits atop of a metal tray. This pan is designed to allow fat to drip through the slots on the top pan and collect on the bottom one. It prevents the ribs from sitting directly in their own juices and steaming, rather than becoming crispy on the outside.
Broiled ribs are often flavored with the use of dry rubs, or combinations of dried seasonings. They may also be served with various types of thick sauces and sticky glazes. Common ingredients that form the base of rib sauces or glazes include soy sauce, vinegar, molasses, and mustard. Sauces tend to be served on the side of the cooked ribs or brushed on top just prior to serving, while glazes are typically brushed onto the ribs before they cook so that they stick to the ribs.