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~ Cooking Boneless Pork Backribs (Pork on a Fork) ~

IMG_4873Some people go to church on Sundays.  Joe goes to Sam's Club.  Men like Sam's Club.  Even the name implies the place is for men.  Sam's sell things in bulk and men like that.  This works out great for me:  1)  Once a week Joe picks up everything I use in big amounts (aluminim foil sheets, pans, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc.), which makes mid-week shopping more like running quick, errands.  2)  Sam's Club has a great meat department, which I have come to rely on for several items.  Bonelesss pork backribs, however, took me some time to warm up to.

IMG_4861This is NOT: a country-style or baby back rib, a riblet, or, a McRib!

IMG_4642A bit about boneless pork backribs or boneless babyback ribs:  This cut of pork, which is not new, started being marketed with these two misleading names after mom and pop butcher shops started closing their doors and mega-markets started opening theirs.  This cut is nothing more than pork loin meat taken from "near the ribs".  As we all know, pork ribs, which are attached to the loin IMG_4649muscle, are fatty, flavorful and always bone-in. This partially-cut, flat, tough piece of loin (which suspiciously looks like what a rack of ribs might look like if one could remove the bones) is akin, in texture (dry), flavor (bland), to a boneless pork chop -- not rib-like at all.  

America has become a country of grillers -- almost everyone owns some sort of grill.  In the old days, loin meat sold for much more than ribs, which were stripped of as much meat as possible. Thanks to the grilling trend, the demand for meatier babybacks grew, and, butchers were forced to start leaving considerably more meat on them.  Now, they have taken this one step further and have generated a product taken "from around the ribs", which is selling well and making money.

IMG_4945Boneless pork backribs are not ribs. They're a different cut  than country-style and baby-backs.  

It astonishes me at the number of misinformed people who refer to these as if they're the same products and write recipes insinuating they can all be used interchangeably.  Country-style ribs (pictured here), taken from the rib end of the pork loin, like (but not) babybacks, are fatty and flavorful. Truth told, I like country-style ribs even more than babybacks.

IMG_4953Babyback ribs and country-style ribs are perfect for the the dry, high heat of the grill because their fat renders them tender and succulent. This is not the case for pork loin chops or boneless pork backribs at all.  Their lack of fat renders them dry, tasteless and lack-luster.

IMG_4865Let's get down to the business of cooking boneless backribs.

If it has the word "rib" in its name and looks sort of like a rack of ribs, people expect ribs.  Stick with that -- it will alleviate a lot of merciless mumbling and grumbling.  

When cooking this cut of meat the object is it to keep it from drying out while adding as much flavor to it as you can (it is leaner than you think and has little flavor of its own).  Baking it, tightly-covered in foil, on a flat pan in the oven, with a short stint under the broiler at the end, works well. This method locks in what little moisture it has and gives "the ribs" a slight crisp on the outside. Season with a spice or a spice blend and choose a sauce or glaze (that complements the spices) with a lot of bold flavor.  Have lots of extra sauce on hand for dipping and drizzling!

For a 4 1/2-5 pound package of boneless pork backribs:

IMG_4649 IMG_4645~ Step 1. Line a large baking pan with foil and a piece of parchment. Choose a spice or spice blend.  I'm using Chinese five-spice powder today.  Sprinkle parchment with the spice/spice blend and a grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend. Place the backribs on the pan.

IMG_4658~ Step 2.  Season the top of the meat with the spice or spice blend followed by grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Allow to rest, to allow the spices to work their magic, for about 45-60 minutes.

IMG_4668Cover tightly w/foil & bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour, to steam and infuse the meat with the flavorful spices.

IMG_4693~ Step 3.  Remove from oven and uncover.  Pour 1/2 cup of sauce evenly over the top of each piece of meat and use a pastry brush to evenly distribute it into all of the slits. Re-cover with foil and bake for 30 more minutes.

In case you haven't already guessed, I am making Asian-syle "ribs" today.  You can find my recipe for ~ Asian Honey-Sesame Garlic-Ginger Dipping Sauce ~ in Categories 8 & 13!

IMG_4770 IMG_4719~ Step 4. Remove from oven, uncover, and, using a fork, lift and flip the meat over.  

IMG_4748Add and brush another 1/4 cup of sauce over each, then, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

~ Step 5.  Re-cover pan with foil and return to oven to for another 30 minutes, for a total of 2 hours in the oven.  Remove from oven and test  with a fork.  If you want them done more, return them to the oven for another 30 minutes.  Otherwise, preheat the broiler (with oven rack repositioned about 6" underneath the heat) and proceed with recipe as follows:

IMG_4775~ Step 5.  Flip them back over onto their first sides (slit slide up).  

IMG_4809Add and brush 1/4-1/2 cup of sauce over the top of each one, using enough to fill in the slits.  

Sprinkle tops with sesame seeds, place under broiler for 5-6 minutes, or until top of "ribs" are browning nicely.  Remove pan from oven. Transfer "ribs" to a cutting board, slice and serve immediately (with whatever side-dishes complement your spices and sauce)...

IMG_4860... and lots of extra sauce for dipping and drizzling:

IMG_4934Cooking Boneless Pork Backribs (Pork on a Fork):  Recipe yields 6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  17 1/2 x 12 1/2" baking pan; heavy-duty aluminum foil; parchment paper; 1-cup measuring container; pastry brush, long-handled fork; cutting board; chef's knife

IMG_7643Cook's Note:  When I'm in the mood for BBQ'd boneless pork backribs, I use a chili spice blend and make my recipe for ~ Kansas City BBQ Sauce:  Sweet, Spicy & Smoky ~. You can find the recipe in Categories 8, 10, 17 or 20!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 


Michelle -- No problem. Mistakes happen, even at my end. If I had forgotten something, I would be thanking you for letting me know and would have corrected the post based on your comment! Happy cooking!!!

Ooos, sorry about that, I read over it 3 times and missed it!

Michelle -- Step 2 clearly states 350 degrees.

There is no oven temp.

Carolyn -- Thanks for sharing your brining suggestion Carolyn.

Let me add to this important bit of info provided in this excellent article. As with any very lean cut of pork you will get the best results by Brining this cut of meat before you cook it. Do this and then follow this recipe and you will get excellent results.

Thanks Mike!

You are a great cook. The Bonelesss pork backribs looks so inviting.

Randall -- Thanks for your comment and for your tips on how you enjoy cooking this tough cut of porcine. I like your crockpot idea! ~ Mel.

I agree that you will be unhappy if you think these are ribs and cook them as such. However, I buy and enjoy them if cooked properly. One method I use is to season and wrap them in foil then cook on low in the slow cooker. Warning: they may be so tender you have to shred them. Season as desired then if you like, add sause when done. One of my favorite seasonings is 1/4 cup liquid smoke, 1Tbsp each Garlic salt and celery salt. (This can also be used on a flat cut brisket or pork butt roast - it tastes amazingly close to actual smoked meat without the work).

Eric -- I'm so happy you found the recipe in advance of cooking your "ribs" so you could enjoy them moist and juicy. The lack of fat in this cut of pork, unfortunately, leaves a lot of folks disappointed. Thanks for the nice comment! ~ Melanie

Accidentally bought this cut of meat at Sam's thinking it was "boneless ribs" as well. Luckily it came out really tasty with your recipe, thanks! I was lazy and just used generic barbecue seasoning and Stubb's BBQ sauce, but still... tender and delicious!

Shirley -- thank you for the super-nice comment and feedback. Just want to let you know: You made my day today!!!

I came across your website this week after purchasing some boneless pork backribs and am so glad I did! I was one of those misinformed people that thought I had purchased something similar to spareribs. I shudder to think how they would have turned out if I had treated them as such. Your information on how to cook boneless pork backribs is so informative and spot on! I tried your cooking method today with some boneless pork backribs that weighed slightly under 4 pounds and they came out perfect! I wanted more of a barbecue flavor, so I did use a rub that I found on, and was very pleased with it as well. I admit I was nervous combining a cooking method and a new spice rub recipe which I had never tried before, but the end result was so over the top delicious that my husband and I both went back for seconds. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your website and to take the time to thank you for sharing your culinary expertise with us!

Sherree -- I would be very interested in how your 'experiment' with your method for cooking these works out and look forward to your sharing the results with me and my readers! Good luck!!!

We have a recipe for baby back ribs where we boil them for about an hour in Coke and BBQ sauce (until the meat is almost falling off the bone), then we brush on a bit more sauce and toss them on the grill just to sear on the sauce. I bought these (I was fooled, I admit it. I didn't know they weren't interchangeable.) and plan to cook them the same way I would have with baby backs. I'll have to let you know how it goes. Seems like they shouldn't be dried out, but I'm no chef. Here's hoping!

Candace! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading the post and eating the ribs -- thank-you for your kind FEEDback (wink, wink)!!!

Great information, I've always wondered why they're called country ribs. As for the "ribs" I made using this recipe, they turned out fantastic!! Many πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘Š Try this recipe!

I am sorry to hear that, and, unfortunately, I have no control over that problem. I'm glad you liked the recipe enough to consider making it though.

i wanted to make the marinade sauce that is supposed to go with this but everything is to expensive.

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