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View Full Version : Pork Spare Ribs VS. Babybacks?


Mooner
03-11-2007, 09:45 PM
Hey guys, I cooked several slabs of spareribs for the North KC competition. This was my first time cooking them and needless to say I am pretty unfamiliar with them anatomy wise. They cooked up fine, color was there, and they were very tender. I had my butcher trim them up for me so they were already a STL. cut. However, when I went to cut them for my turn-in, it almost seemed like there were 2 sets of bones? I would cut where I thought in between ribs and hit bone. I pulled out a bone and there was another one to take its place. What is the deal? I always assumed that spare ribs were essentially anatomically similar to babybacks. you cut between a rib you get a rib. Why did I have so much issue with hitting bone?

butts
03-11-2007, 10:24 PM
You must of had too much of the "spare" part of the rib in the cut you were given. I cut spares to St. Louis all the time for comps. If you don't cut the proper place you can wind up with some boney ribs.

QansasjayhawQ
03-11-2007, 10:44 PM
That's interesting because I just smoked my first St. Louis style rack yesterday.

I found the same thing - but only down at the short end of the rack. I thought the same thing - 'hey what's this spiney little bone here' - but I must admit they were delicious! I can put up with a few bones here and there for a tasty treat like that!

I have no idea what the judges would have thought - I'll bet they've seen it before . . .

HoDeDo
03-11-2007, 11:29 PM
Thats just the grissle that goes into the brisket end of that slab, you probably got it cut a little bit too large. usually if you flip them so that they are curve up - you can see a vein of fat that you can follow to cut on the inside of that extra "bony" grissle.

Once you learn to trim them its a breeze. I have to give props to Mark G. (4 Men and a Pig) - he came over to me the first year at Osage (had a shot of single barrel in hand) and told me - boy, you are trimmin' those ribs all wrong... Trim them like this <showed me on a slab> and you will get your name called. Needless to say, I did get it called.:icon_clown Trimming them right definately makes a difference.

Plowboy
03-11-2007, 11:54 PM
Does this help?



St. Louis Spare Rib Prep (http://plowboysbbq.com/archives/144)

Of course you can toss a whole “packer” of spare ribs on the smoker and have plenty of good eats. The St. Louis cut on a spare rib produces a better presentation and cooks more evenly. You can see from the picture of the full packer of ribs that the there are wider and narrower parts of the rack. The wider sections are going to cook slower than the narrow. The St. Louis cut takes care of this issue.
http://plowboysbbq.com////wp-content/uploads/2007/01/stlouisspares%20001%20%28Custom%29.jpg
Let’s take this full rack of spare ribs and turn it into a St. Louis cut. The first step is to flip to the back and remove the skirt. We’ll keep this small piece of rib meat for beans later or a snack before the ribs are done. The skirt off of the smoker won’t be as tender as your ribs. The skirt should be done in about 3 hours.
http://plowboysbbq.com////wp-content/uploads/2007/01/stlouisspares%20002%20%28Custom%29.jpg
The next step of removing the membrane is optional. To leave the membrane will leave a bit of chew to the backside of the rib. Some that cook over higher heat will leave the membrane to render and crisp up. Since I cook low and slow, I like to remove the membrane. It can be tough, but will a little patience and practice the membrane removal can be accomplished. The best tip I’ve been given for removing the membrane is to use a paper towel to get a good grip. I simply us a paring knife to work up one edge of the membrane, grab with the paper towel, and pull. This process can be referred to as “skinning” the rib.
http://plowboysbbq.com////wp-content/uploads/2007/01/stlouisspares%20003%20%28Custom%29.jpg
Let’s start squaring this rib up to look like a traditional St. Louis style rack of ribs. You’ll notice that the rib bones don’t extend all the way accross the full rack. The top of the rack is full of cartilage, not bone. To start the St. Louis cut, follow the rib bones across the rack seperating the bones from the upper cartilage. This upper cartilage is known as the “rib tips” We can either cook these up now as snacks or save for later. Since I have a small family, one rack of St. Louis ribs will feed us well. My rib tips are saved for beans or a future smoke. They’ll get tossed in the freezer until there are several for a good feed of Rib Tips. Back to the cut, I stop with about 2-3 small ribs to go. Remember, we want a square rack, not pointed. If we left the last few small ribs, they’ be overdone by the time the rest of the rib rack was ready to eat.
http://plowboysbbq.com////wp-content/uploads/2007/01/stlouisspares%20005%20%28Custom%29.jpg
A flip back to the front and you can see the transformation that our packer has taken to become the legendary St. Louis Style Spare Ribs. Rubbed with some love, this rack of ribs is ready for smoke.
http://plowboysbbq.com////wp-content/uploads/2007/01/stlouisspares%20010%20%28Custom%29.jpg

DaChief
03-12-2007, 07:50 AM
Looks like I haven't been trimming mine quite enough!

tjus77
03-12-2007, 08:38 AM
awesome tutorial, thanks. I remove the membrane, cook them whole then trim em. The dogs like the "knuckles" (as we call them) cooked. But I don't do competitions.

Puppyboy
03-12-2007, 09:05 AM
That's it, I need some spares. I have not trimmed my spares before which is probably why they have been giving me fits. With this now trimmed St. Louis cut, the "3-2-1 guideline" applies correct?

Plowboy
03-12-2007, 09:20 AM
That's it, I need some spares. I have not trimmed my spares before which is probably why they have been giving me fits. With this now trimmed St. Louis cut, the "3-2-1 guideline" applies correct?

From my experience 3-2-1 is too long. Try 2-2-1 or 3-1-1 and experiment with what works for you.

CarbonToe
03-12-2007, 09:32 AM
So do you still throw the rubbed off cuts into the smoker for beans?

Smokin Gator
03-12-2007, 09:40 AM
So do you still throw the rubbed off cuts into the smoker for beans?


I do if there are any left when I get done nibbling:icon_bigsmil

Bigdog
03-12-2007, 11:24 AM
From my experience 3-2-1 is too long. Try 2-2-1 or 3-1-1 and experiment with what works for you.
Agreed. Another falicy of 3-2-1 is temp.

VGuilford
03-12-2007, 11:37 AM
From my experience 3-2-1 is too long. Try 2-2-1 or 3-1-1 and experiment with what works for you.

What you talkin about Willis?
Explain to me to me 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 or 3-1-1. :confused: I don't how to cut anything. Is there a book that explains this and other meats?

FireBrewer
03-12-2007, 12:30 PM
What you talkin about Willis?
Explain to me to me 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 or 3-1-1. :confused:

Here ya go: http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9030

Plowboy
03-12-2007, 12:37 PM
Anyone new here should start with the Roadmap. Its great!! Hell, anyone who's been here for a while should go to the Roadmap, too.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7818

Pork Chop
03-12-2007, 01:03 PM
Thanks Plowboy that was a great response.

Steppenwolf
03-12-2007, 02:48 PM
Great tutorial! I've tried several times to remove that membrane. It's on a bit dard to do with spare ribs, but I've given up on babybacks. Just can't seem to get it all off without spending what seems like half the day.

bbqpigskin
03-12-2007, 04:51 PM
Thanks for the tips on trimming spares. I've stayed away from them and have stuck to baby backs just because I could never get them trimmed right, and they are easy to prepare foor the smoker. Membrane comes off pretty clean every time.

VGuilford
03-12-2007, 04:55 PM
Plowboy
Do you have a tutorial on trimming a brisket?

Plowboy
03-12-2007, 05:08 PM
Plowboy
Do you have a tutorial on trimming a brisket?


Open Cryo
Inject (optional)
Season
Smoke
Sauce (optional)
EatSome people trim their briskets before cooking, but most don't I'd say. Fat cap up or fat cap down, there are different theories on that. I've done them both ways side by side and can't tell a whole lot of difference. I'm a fat cap up kinda guy. Now you can seperate the point after the cook and make some tasty burnt ends.

http://plowboysbbq.com/archives/164

Here's a good brisket prep tutorial. Lot's of good info. You don't have to do as much as they are doing here, but its a guide.

http://virtualweberbullet.com/brisketselect.html

Steppenwolf
03-12-2007, 05:21 PM
Thanks for the tips on trimming spares. I've stayed away from them and have stuck to baby backs just because I could never get them trimmed right, and they are easy to prepare foor the smoker. Membrane comes off pretty clean every time.
Really? I've tried a number of times and it's never been easy. Maybe it's where I get my meat. Anyway, they turn out so tender it make's only a little difference as far as I can tell.

QansasjayhawQ
03-12-2007, 11:09 PM
You know, it's great to really dig into the Roadmap - it IS great!

But it's also fun to knock around here, kinda more real-time.

Both together are best.

Now, if I only woulda known that St. Louis style are just trimmed up regular ribs . . . but hey! Now I know. Thanks, people!

DaChief
03-13-2007, 08:11 AM
Anyone new here should start with the Roadmap. Its great!! Hell, anyone who's been here for a while should go to the Roadmap, too.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7818

I know the roadmap well!!! We are close friends.

Arlin_MacRae
03-13-2007, 09:25 AM
Except for a slight difference in taste (for what reason, I don't know - fat content?) good, trimmed spares can be just as good as BB's, and they're a LOT cheaper.

Steppenwolf
03-13-2007, 10:06 AM
You know, it's great to really dig into the Roadmap - it IS great!

But it's also fun to knock around here, kinda more real-time.

Both together are best.

Now, if I only woulda known that St. Louis style are just trimmed up regular ribs . . . but hey! Now I know. Thanks, people!
That's no joke! BB ribs are running around $5.50/lb. in my area. I always get a rack of beef ribs along with the 2 racks of BB to make me feel better. Baafribs running $1.70/lb in these parts.

VGuilford
03-13-2007, 12:07 PM
That's no joke! BB ribs are running around $5.50/lb. in my area. I always get a rack of beef ribs along with the 2 racks of BB to make me feel better. Baafribs running $1.70/lb in these parts.

I picked up my at Sam's for between 2.50 and 3.00 a lb.

Steppenwolf
03-13-2007, 12:43 PM
:rolleyes: Wow, I had some great spelling going on there- didn't I. That was beef ribs not baafribs :shock:

Puppyboy
03-13-2007, 01:43 PM
Plowboy, I appreciate your educational links. Thankyou.

Bigmista
03-13-2007, 04:23 PM
BB's are between $3-4 here. Spares run about $1.79. Personally, I can't justify paying more for less meat. Just a cheap bastard I guess.

BTW...I trim the hard pieces of fat from my brsket and trim the bottom fat down to about 1/4".

FAT CAP DOWN!!

*running and ducking*

Steppenwolf
03-13-2007, 04:33 PM
...........I can't justify paying more for less meat. ..............* it's a wifey thing. She "doesn't care for" spares, has to have her Baby's. i think it's a sauce to meat ratio thing:-P .

To make matters worse. The butcher we used for years was kinda pushed out of the maket he was in when the market changes owners. they tried using his hired help to run the meat dept. They hardley speak english and the meat is just sick.
So Debbie goes to the nearby Albertsons and brings home babybacks all wrapped up in the famous meat wrapping paper. Unwrap the paper and you get 2 babybacks vacuum sealed in a prepackage, no name label.

Arlin_MacRae
03-14-2007, 09:45 AM
FAT CAP DOWN!!

*running and ducking*


Do try and stay on topic...CHICKEN! :biggrin:

Steppenwolf
03-14-2007, 10:16 AM
Do try and stay on topic...CHICKEN! :biggrin:
I thought the topic was ribs :mrgreen:

backyardchef
03-14-2007, 10:31 AM
Really? I've tried a number of times and it's never been easy. Maybe it's where I get my meat. Anyway, they turn out so tender it make's only a little difference as far as I can tell.

Have you tried bending the ribs into a semi-circle w/ the membrane side out? Then slip a butter knife under the membrane at say the third bone and slowly work it up the slab and over to the end. Once you have that loosened, grab a piece of paper towel, grab a handful and work your way across.

Steppenwolf
03-14-2007, 11:35 AM
Have you tried bending the ribs into a semi-circle w/ the membrane side out? Then slip a butter knife under the membrane at say the third bone and slowly work it up the slab and over to the end. Once you have that loosened, grab a piece of paper towel, grab a handful and work your way across.
No, just tried pulling after losening up one corner more or less. I'll definately give it a shot your way. The wife did let me know that keeping the membrane on is not as good as removing it, the few times I've been successful. Thanks for the help.

mpepper
03-14-2007, 07:58 PM
Try starting in the middle and working your way out. If you hold on to the membrane with a paper towle it's alot easier.