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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 10-05-2011, 02:21 PM   #1
bigzthamoose
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Default why spares over babybacks?

I know the common answer, and im just thinking out loud here but... Ever since i was young, my dad was a chef and bbqr and have always eaten ribs, so even before my obsession, i knew a thing or two. I hear spares are meatier, etc, but in my experience, spares are not as thick, with less meat overall on them. I know they are bigger length wise, stuff like that, but every baby back i have cooked or eaten at friends houses, were about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick with tons of meat. They arent as pretty thats for sure. But what really caused the whole " spares over babybacks" in comps? Kinda like how everyone turns in thighs. I know that one. Darker meat than breast meat, harder to dry out, etc. Just wondering. My fam always likes babybacks more, but i always buy and cook spares bc thats what i learned from competitors. I dunno, just wanted to hear some opinions!
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Unread 10-05-2011, 02:32 PM   #2
MO Swine
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I cook spares becuase they are more uniform. To me, BB tend to be really thick at the short end and get progressively thinner. With spares, I feel like I have a few more bones one way or the other when it comes time for turn in.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 02:52 PM   #3
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I use spares because you can't get a St. Louis cut Rib out of a Baby Back rib.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 04:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MO Swine View Post
I cook spares becuase they are more uniform. To me, BB tend to be really thick at the short end and get progressively thinner. With spares, I feel like I have a few more bones one way or the other when it comes time for turn in.
True, but if you trim that thickness issue can be overcome. At the end of the day I'd cook whichever looked better, even though my preference is for spares.

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Originally Posted by bigzthamoose View Post
I know the common answer, and im just thinking out loud here but... Ever since i was young, my dad was a chef and bbqr and have always eaten ribs, so even before my obsession, i knew a thing or two. I hear spares are meatier, etc, but in my experience, spares are not as thick, with less meat overall on them. I know they are bigger length wise, stuff like that, but every baby back i have cooked or eaten at friends houses, were about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick with tons of meat. They arent as pretty thats for sure. But what really caused the whole " spares over babybacks" in comps? Kinda like how everyone turns in thighs. I know that one. Darker meat than breast meat, harder to dry out, etc. Just wondering. My fam always likes babybacks more, but i always buy and cook spares bc thats what i learned from competitors. I dunno, just wanted to hear some opinions!
I like spares, because in general, I've got a larger mass of meat which should help even out the temp the piece of meat over a longer cook. They also tend to be fattier, which leads to more flavor in my opinion if all other factors are equal. BBs work great as well. For me it's a personal preference based on the reasons given. Others differ.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 04:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawdustguy View Post
I use spares because you can't get a St. Louis cut Rib out of a Baby Back rib.
Huh?

We've cooked both over the last 3 years and in that time we've placed first in ribs 6 times and guess what. 3 times it was with spares and 3 times it was with baby backs. To me that says that it really doesn't matter as long as the ribs are cooked properly and have the right balance of flavors that the judges are looking for on that day.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 04:51 PM   #6
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ya, makes sense. A team im familiar with has had the same good results with bbs also, so ya, i guess as long as you hit your mark, your good to go?
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Unread 10-05-2011, 05:07 PM   #7
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I cook spares in both competition and at home. The reason at home is because they are so much cheaper. The reason for competitions is that we don't compete enough to mess around with a big change like switching rib types . We are finally starting to get consistent with spares. I do like baby backs too occasionally.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 05:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fnbish View Post
I cook spares in both competition and at home. The reason at home is because they are so much cheaper. The reason for competitions is that we don't compete enough to mess around with a big change like switching rib types . We are finally starting to get consistent with spares. I do like baby backs too occasionally.
This is a good point. Cook what you are comfortable with and do it the best that you can. Don't do something just because someone else does it that way. their cooking style or cooker or who-know-what-else are all different and your results may be entirely different.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 05:48 PM   #9
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^^^ BINGO. That's IT in a nut shell. Cook what you cook well. If you like spares and cook a mean spare, go with it. I like BB's, and I tend to cook a pretty good BB, and so I compete with 'em.

I do think some sanctioning bodies judges have tendencies towards expectations, and some of that could be regional as well. Meaning, I know it's rare to see a spare in MBN in this area, and same for GBA. However, in KCBS I think it's more like 75% spares (in this area). Your area/region may see something completely different.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 06:57 PM   #10
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Seen teams do well with both. As for the meat/thickness of the ribs:

- BBs come from a section where the tenderloin rests, those thick BBs come from the butcher leaving more of the loin meat on the rib.

- Spares are being cut thinner these days because this is the same section that the belly is drawn from. Thin spares are resulting from the high price of bellies, butchers trying to cut as much belly meat as possible at the expense of the spare rib.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 07:30 PM   #11
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IMHO, there may be more meat overall on a babyback, but more consistent amount of meat on a spare. thusly, when the judge bites, he gets a nice mouthfull of balanced sauce/rub/foil mix, etc. no matter where the bite come from.

i also think they just taste better. again YMMV, and cook what ya know.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 08:01 PM   #12
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I think spares taste better.

Loin ribs have that thick end for sure, but to me spares generally have a richer, "porkier" flavor. Or put another way: bacon meat tastes better than pork chop meat.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 08:23 PM   #13
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I have had as much luck with one as the other. Each has got me walks in comps. I didn't start using spares until this year with mixed results. I like them both. My biggest problem with bb's is the curverature of the bones makes it more difficult to get them in the box without making a mess on the inside to the lid.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 09:21 PM   #14
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ya know, i didnt think of it that way, "bacon tasting better than loin" lol. Good point. The reason i asked was, i have kinda targeted pork and brisket over the summer months in preparation for my rookie season next year, so ribs took the back burner for a while, i still cook em and practice different rubs/ sauce combos, but lately, the size of my spares freakin suck. Its like i get to sink my teeth into a nice, juicy, 1/4" piece of pork. uhhh... not satisfiying and seems not very appealing if i were a judge. Maybe its my source? But the whole pork belly thing makes sense. Thanks everyone. Im best at spares, but the amount i cook them, it wouldnt be hard to turn it any direction.
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Unread 10-05-2011, 09:26 PM   #15
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cook what you cook best. We've tried both this season. For us:

Babies -- 2nd place Wildwood NJ State BBQ Championship plus the Butch "Smack Your Lips" Lupinetti Award for Top Ribs in NJ
Spares -- 7th place Mt Holly

We will continue to cook Babies.
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