Are Rib Tips the Next Short Ribs?

Last week, the Chicago Tribune educated readers in the delicious ways of the rib tip (registration required). Of course if you’re a barbecue-lover, you’re probably already familiar with the incredible potential of tips—the meat at the very end of the bone, thoroughly flecked with white nubs of cartilage, which turns into transcendently crusty, melty bites when slow-smoked. But the off-brand cut, which many butchers consider scrap meat, might just storm the New American restaurant scene. In some Midwestern cities, the Trib reports,

This curious cut of pork has taken the poor-man’s-food-gone-cult-favorite route, the same path traveled by grits, monkfish and mac and cheese.

But nationwide, tips could have a tougher time conquering the yuppie-foodie set than their once-overlooked cousins, short ribs and pork belly. Tips are extremely fatty and incredibly messy—it’s standard practice to eat them by popping the whole thing into your mouth and spitting out whatever you can’t chew through. And as one Chicagoland barbecue chef has discovered in trying to spread the rib-tip wealth to his suburban customers, few are familiar with it, and even fewer are keen to give it a shot:

‘Some of these white-collar types, I have to push them to try it. It’s more of a blue-collar food,’ [he] says. ‘Unless they try it, they don’t truly know how great rib tips are.’

Perhaps tips are more likely to become the new McRibs? According to this article on porkfoodservice.com, the National Pork Board’s website for restaurant industry folk, there are plenty of precooked, presmoked rib tips on the wholesale market, and “restaurants that can’t invest the time and labor to prepare pork recipes from scratch” can save bundles by using these “value-added pork products” in their dishes. Seems like a perfect option for chains—if not McD’s, then certainly “fast-casual” places like Applebee’s.

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