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What Is Rib Meat In Chicken?

Ribs are often a very eye-catching item on a menu but that listing typically refers to pork meat. So, what actually is rib meat when it comes to an animal like chicken?

Quick Answer: When it comes to chicken, the term ‘rib meat’ simply refers to slightly darker meat on the breast. The butcher will sometimes cut just past the white meat and include some brown meat with the breast.

What Is Rib Meat In Chicken

This means it isn’t just the chicken’s breast you’re getting, but the part that is near the ribs, too.

In this guide, we’ll be taking a closer look at this unusual cut of meat and finding out what you can do with it.

What Is Rib Meat?

The term ‘ribs’ simply refers to the part of the animal that it is cut from. For example, pork ribs are cut from around the ribs of a pig. Typically, it is taken from the loin or side of an animal, just between the shoulder and hind legs.

However, rib meat is different from this because it actually refers to a part of a chicken breast. You’ll often get rib meat with your chicken breast if the person cutting it has gone too far with their knife.

It does not actually come from the rib of the chicken itself. Rather it is the scapula meat, which is essentially the shoulder.

Why Do You Get Rib Meat In Chicken?

You might still be wondering why you end up with rib meat in your chicken breasts. After all, it seems to just be the product of a mistake made by the butcher which you don’t expect reputable meat suppliers to be making.

Well, in some cases, this mistake is actually made on purpose. Some people believe the flavor of the rib meat is better than the rest of the chicken breast and that it adds a more complex variety of flavors to the meat.

Similarly, some people prefer the texture of the rib meat in the chicken breast. Instead of a smooth, even consistency throughout the breast, there is a much deeper variety of textures made by the rib meat, also.

Another reason you may find rib meat with your chicken breast is that it is cheaper for the butcher and for the customer.

After all, it costs the butcher more money to waste part of the meat by cutting too deep to avoid the rib meat. Therefore, it makes more sense for them to include a little of it in the cut.

However, this isn’t some big scam that rips off the customer. In fact, some butchers will even sell cuts of chicken breast with rib meat slightly cheaper than one that consists purely of white meat.

What’s The Difference Between Chicken Breasts With Rib Meat And Chicken Breasts Without It?

So, now that we understand a little more about what rib meat actually is in chicken, let’s work out how we can distinguish it from the rest of the meat.

The most notable difference between the two parts of the chicken breast is certainly the color. Rib meat is slightly darker in color than the appropriately named ‘white’ meat.

Similarly, there is a slight difference in flavor between these two parts of the breast. However, it is often difficult to notice this difference, particularly because it becomes less noticeable, the more you cook it.

Aside from these features, there isn’t much difference between rib meat and white meat on a chicken breast.

Some people don’t enjoy the flavor of rib meat and will make sure to avoid it but some people have the idea that rib meat is somehow bad for you.

Rib meat actually has no negative health effects whatsoever and it is perfectly safe to eat. Just because it looks a little different from the rest of the meat and makes it look ‘less pure’, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it!

Is Rib Meat Better?

There’s no wrong or right answer to the question of whether rib meat is better than breast meat because it’s all down to personal preference. Neither one is objectively superior or inferior to the other.

Despite this, plenty of people still prefer their chicken breasts to be made up purely of white meat. After all, this is the type of meat that you are paying for when you get chicken breasts.

This is why the adding of brown, rib meat to chicken breasts is seen as poor practice and you won’t often see it from large retail chains like Walmart.

You will definitely notice a difference in flavor between the rib meat and white meat of a chicken breast, even if it is very subtle. Although, the difference in flavor becomes even less noticeable the more you cook it.

If you try the rib meat of a breast and decide that you don’t like the flavor or texture, the solution is as simple as trimming off this part of the meat, just like you would with any silverskin or fat.

Is The Rib Meat As Nutritious As The White Meat?

Yes, the rib meat of a chicken breast provides the same amount of nutritional value as white meat. Just because it looks and tastes slightly different, it is still cut from pretty much the same part of the animal.

Chicken breast meat tends to be low in fat and high in protein. The white and rib meat is no different from each other in these regards. However, the number of calories in each part of meat may differ slightly.

This will only ever be a very small difference, though, so it’s not worth worrying about too much.

Does Rib Meat Make Chicken Breasts Cheaper?

As we’ve previously mentioned, chicken breasts that are sold with rib meat actually tend to be a little cheaper than breasts made up purely of white meat.

What Is Rib Meat In Chicken (1)

We’ve already learned that the rib meat of a breast is no better or worse than the rest of the meat so why is it cheaper than the alternative?

The main reason for this price difference is that including rib meat in a breast makes it much easier to cut. The butcher doesn’t need to worry about perfectly cutting around the rib meat and end up wasting more of the chicken.

Therefore, more of the chicken gets used and the cuts can be sold at a lower price.

Also, aside from the amount of meat it saves from being wasted, breasts with rib meat take much less time to cut from the chicken.

Again, the butcher will have to spend more of their time meticulously cutting around the rib meat to make a perfectly white breast, which increases its price based on labor costs.

On the other hand, because the breasts with rib meat take so much less time to cut, the labor costs are lower and so the breast will ultimately be cheaper.

How Do You Cook Chicken Breast With Rib Meat?

If you come home from the grocery store and realize that you’ve inadvertently picked up some chicken breasts that contain rib meat, you might be worried about having to cook it in a different way from how you normally would.

Thankfully, this is not the case and you can cook chicken breasts with rib meat exactly the same as you would with pure white chicken breasts.

A good way to cook any kind of chicken breasts is to pan-fry them. The most important thing to do here is to use plenty of oil to prevent the breasts from sticking to the pan.

Oil is also important for providing flavor to the dish. Regardless of what you’re serving with the chicken, you can enhance the flavor of the meat by using cooking oils that are flavored with things like garlic or chili.

Another great cooking method for chicken breasts is roasting. This is a great way to create a hassle-free meal with only a few minutes of preparation time.

You can load up an oven-safe tray with your chicken breasts (butterflied, if you prefer) along with some vegetables, potatoes, or other ingredients, then leave them in the oven until they’re cooked.

The main takeaway here is that chicken breasts with rib meat should be treated as if they are the same as completely white chicken breasts.

Even if you don’t enjoy the flavor of the rib meat, you can just trim it off yourself with a knife and cook the remaining white meat however you like. Simple!

How To Remove Rib Meat From Chicken Breasts

If you want to remove the rib meat from your chicken breasts, the process is a lot simpler than you might think.

Start by finding an appropriately-sized knife. Use one that is small enough to maneuver carefully but not so small that you end up having to apply more force than you normally would cutting food.

Then, simply hold the chicken breast down on your cutting board with the rib meat facing down and carefully cut away at it.

How much white meat you end up taking off along with the rib meat depends on how careful you are with the knife but don’t worry if you can’t get it perfect every time.

Jess Smith