While all pork ribs come from the pig’s rib cage, their shape and trim can significantly alter their flavor. You’ll likely come across different cuts like baby back ribs, St Louis and spare ribs at your local grocery store.
Garlic powder imparts an earthy, pungent aroma that perfectly pairs with rich meat dishes, while brown sugar creates a sticky sweet crust to complement rich, smoky flavors.
1. Baby Back
Baby Back ribs offer delicious and succulent pork ribs with just the right combination of sweet and savoury flavours – they’re deliciously tender meat that fall right off the bone, balanced by an aromatic sauce with notes of paprika, tomato flakes, cumin and chilli pepper for an intensely flavourful experience. You can have these babies with or without glaze to achieve the ultimate combination of sweet and savoury dishes!
Baby back ribs (also referred to as loin or back ribs) differ from spare ribs in various ways. Their name, “baby”, refers to their diminutive size rather than age; leaner than their more muscular counterparts and shorter and less curvy, they cook quicker too!
Baby back ribs may be leaner than their spare rib counterparts, but they can still become tough if cooked incorrectly. To guarantee tender and juicy results it’s essential to marinate the ribs before cooking with either dry rub or sauce, and also cooking at low temperature over time for optimal results.
In order to produce optimal rib grill or smoker results, experts recommend using hickory wood as it has strong flavors without overwhelming the meat like mesquite would. For an alternative flavor profile, fruit woods such as apple or cherry may also work.
Though pork ribs can taste fantastic when covered in hickory or mesquite-based barbecue sauces, restaurants generally avoid adding it as part of their presentation. Instead, after they are fully cooked they may be lightly coated in sauce to preserve moisture levels while simultaneously adding flavor. It may be beneficial to wrap each rack of ribs individually in foil prior to applying any BBQ sauce as this will prevent it from spilling onto unwrapped meat surfaces and help retain their moisture content – further helping the racks’ tender texture!
Have you been stumped on which pork ribs to purchase for your smoker or grill? Don’t feel embarrassed; many others face similar dilemmas! Several factors should be taken into consideration: size, location, price, meat texture and overall flavor profile of each variety of ribs available at the butcher counter.
Spareribs are one of the most beloved forms of pork ribs. As its name suggests, spareribs are cut from spare ribs that run down from baby back ribs’ ends and are typically longer and straighter in comparison to baby backs; but shorter and curvier varieties exist as well. Spare ribs tend to have less meat on their top surface while also boasting greater marbling that adds texture and additional flavor to them.
Spare ribs often feature rib tips containing small bones and cartilage. Rib tips tend to be tougher than the meat of spareribs and may sometimes become chewy; their larger size, shape and location require an extended cooking time than baby back ribs.
Be it baby back or spare ribs, both will benefit from an excellent marinade before being smoked. A marinade should help the ribs absorb moisture for more succulent and tender results; when selecting one look for one that is low sodium and rich in herbs and spices. A high-quality barbecue sauce may also enhance their flavor profile.
When purchasing pork ribs, the best place to go is either your local butcher or high-end supermarket with a meat counter. A butcher will have experience trimming and removing silver skin from back of ribs as well as providing advice for preparation methods; supermarkets with meat counters may provide similar services but at a slightly higher cost; wherever you purchase yours from, be sure that it is fresh rather than previously frozen!
3. Country Style
When it comes to pork ribs, there are many different varieties. From baby backs to spareribs, depending on the cut of pig and how it was butchered can have an enormous effect on their flavor and final product. When cooking them properly they need slow heat with plenty of low temperatures in order to become tender and juicy enough for everyday dining pleasure.
Country style ribs can be found either at a butcher’s counter or supermarket meat aisles. Often cut from shoulder blade bones (Boston butt) similar to pork chops, country style ribs resemble pork chops more than true racks of ribs; or they can come boneless as long strips of loin muscle.
This cut combines rib tips and flap meat into one rectangular-shaped slab. These types of ribs tend to be more tender than others and contain more meat than bone.
Baby back ribs, also referred to as loin or short ribs, tend to be shorter and leaner than their counterparts; yet still deliciously satisfying!
Spare ribs originate further down in a pig’s belly and contain more bones than baby back ribs, along with plenty of meat in between the bones that makes these tasty morsels both flavorful and less chewy.
Spareribs typically come packaged with a membrane on top that must be peeled off before cooking them, though this process can be time consuming and cumbersome. But it’s definitely worth your while since the membrane contains flavorful components such as garlic or other seasonings which add a great deal to the dish itself.
Create the perfect rub for pork ribs by customizing it to your tastes, from black pepper and sugar to caraway seeds – which add subtle licorice notes – or dried herbs such as rosemary and sage.
These ribs can be enjoyed best when prepared using a dry rub and slowly smoked with either a grill or smoker. When using either method, allow time for the rub to penetrate the meat properly before creating your rub mixture the night before. Before grilling them out on either of these methods, tent them with foil for maximum warmth and to prevent drying out.
Ribs are a classic candidate for grilling, smoking or braising because their connective tissues require low temperatures and long (sometimes up to several hours) cooking times for tenderization. Although all ribs share this trait, not all are created equally; depending on their cut from which they were harvested and their preparation or choice of seasoning can drastically change their flavor – something especially evident with pork ribs which come in four distinct forms: spare, baby back ribs country style ribs St Louis style.
Be wary when shopping for ribs that some are “enhanced” using water, sodium phosphate and flavorings to increase tenderness or add an artificial or hammy taste. While some barbecue enthusiasts may dislike enhanced ribs due to their less tender texture and more robust flavors than regular pork products, others enjoy them for their juicy consistency and robust flavor – particularly in regions without many options for purchasing regular pork products.
When buying enhanced ribs, look for those with an intact membrane covering the bone. Although difficult to remove, this membrane is essential in keeping meaty pieces of pork juicy on their bone. You can gently separate and pull off this membrane using a butter knife; or score and grip tightly onto it with paper towel for removal.
Spare ribs come from the belly section of a pig’s belly and feature plenty of intramuscular fat and connective tissue, making them an excellent candidate for barbecuing. They can be cooked dry or with wet rub for optimal results; usually served in half racks (3 per person as an appetizer).
Baby back ribs come from the loin region of a hog and are leaner than their spare counterparts. While you can use either a rub or sauce, marinating before grilling or smoking them is usually best. Choose a rack that features maximum meat on its bones; avoid those that contain any “shiners,” pieces of bone that protrude through either front or back for optimal results.