pork ribs 101
St. Louis style, baby back & spare… do you know your ribs? With so many options available the choice can be overwhelming. Read on to learn about the different kinds of ribs you can put on the table, and the best ways to cook each one.
St. Louis Style Pork Ribs
Best for: Smoking & Barbecue
St. Louis style ribs are essentially spare ribs cut for easier eating. The tips are removed leaving behind the meatier portion, making it the perfect cut for BBQ. Rub the ribs with your choice of seasoning and let your ribs sit overnight, so the rub soaks into the meat. You can then smoke your ribs or roast them in the oven.
Smoking Instructions: Smoke the ribs in your smoker for about 5 hours at 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray the ribs with apple juice every hour or so to keep them moist. Before the last hour of cooking, coat with Caraluzzi’s honey BBQ sauce for flavor.
Oven Instructions: Roast for two hours in the oven at 250 degrees. Turn the ribs over, and roast for an additional hour. Rotate the ribs once more, adding sauce if you’d like, and cook for one last hour. The total roasting time should be about 4 hours. When you’re done, the meat will fall off the bone and easily “crack.”
Country Style Pork Ribs
Best for: Long, Slow Roasting... but also great right on the grill!
Not really ribs at all, Country style pork ribs are cut from the pork loin, similar to a pork chop but then cut in half to form individual "ribs" and are also available boneless. Containing more meat and less fat than other pork ribs, a serving size usually sits at only one or two ribs per person. Because of their thickness, these ribs cook best low and slow at 250 degrees Fahrenheit in a shallow baking dish. Roast for two hours, drain the pain and then drench the ribs in BBQ sauce. Return the pan to the oven for an additional hour, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
While all these ribs can be cooked quickly on the BBQ grill, culinary preference follows the theme of low & slow. So relax, take the time to enjoy good company of friends and family while the ribs are simmering... It will be worth the wait.
Baby Back Pork Ribs
Best for: Slow Roasting or Grilling
Considered the leanest and tenderest of all pork rib cuts, the baby back pork ribs are cut from the loin area. They are shorter than spare ribs and cook far more rapidly. Rub or coat with sauce and cook these in a shallow, aluminum foil covered backing dish for 3 hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain the pan and the whole rack of ribs can then be refrigerated overnight to tighten up and make it easier for cutting into each rib without the meat falling off the bone. Cook each set of ribs on the grill for ten minutes the next day before serving to your guests. Don’t forget to add more sauce, and be sure the ribs reach room temperature before you place them on the grill.
Pork Spare Ribs
Best for: Grilling
Like the St. Louis style ribs, spare ribs are cut from the side and belly, but also have an additional third, thin layer or meat under the bone and include the rib tips. There is more fat found between the bones, called marbling, that melts when cooking. The melted marbling makes the ribs juicer and more flavorful. Pork spare ribs can be slow cooked on a grill, preheated to 275 degrees using charcoal. Cook away from the flame, with the curling side up, for 2 and a 1/2 hours before rotating the rib and cooking for an additional hour. When finished, these can be eaten with sauce or dry.