It doesn’t matter if you cook your pork ribs indoors or outdoors, they are always a delight. Taking a rib in your hand and chewing on that meaty, smoky goodness just appeals to my senses. It is amazing how well ribs take to almost any kind of flavor or spice, from a traditional barbecue rub to glazed ones.
Grabbing a beer (or coffee), have a seat, and learn about the different kinds of pork ribs.
Pork Rib: What Is It?
Pork ribs are a type of pork that comes from the rib cage of a pig. Among the many pork cuts available, pork ribs are popular in Western and oriental cuisines. Various methods can be used to prepare a pig’s ribcage, meat, and bones together, often using grilling, smoking, or baking, along with a sauce, such as a barbecue.
Pig ribs are messy, fatty, difficult to prepare, difficult to eat, and all the while delicious. When properly prepared, the fat and cartilage around and between the ribs decomposes and becomes tender and succulent, resulting in incredibly tender and delicious ribs.
What are the different types of pork ribs?
Pigs and humans share many characteristics, but they differ in the ribcage. Pigs vary in breeds when it comes to ribcages. You may be wondering how many ribs a pig has on each side?
Pigs of extraordinary length, such as the American Landrace, can have as many as 16 or 17 pairs of ribs. The average Lacombe porker has around 13 pairs.
Not all pork ribs are created equal, depending on which part of the rib cage they are cut from. The flavor and texture of prepared dishes can differ depending on the thickness of the meat and bone and the amount of fat used in each cut. Cooking them requires different methods and times because of their size, meat yield, and cooking time.
In order of popularity, here are the top four cuts:
Baby Back Ribs – These ribs originate at the backbone of the hog, high on its back. On average, one rack of back ribs comprises between 8 and 13 ribs, and they’re usually cut three to six inches wide. Pork rib loin chops consist of ribs usually bone-in, but they are boneless because the loin is removed so that just the ribs remain.
Spareribs: Ribs between the sternum and the belly are called spareribs. Since they come from the belly, they are fatter than the back ribs. A full rack has 11 to 13 ribs and is usually 6 to 8 inches wide. Also, spareribs contain more cartilage than back ribs, and their meat is tough.
St. Louis-Style Ribs: The ribs that are cut from the hog’s belly after the belly is removed are called St. Louis-style spareribs. The hard breastbone and chewy cartilage, or connective tissue, are removed to trim them down. Lousiana ribs are flat, so they are easier to brown than baby back ribs.
Country-Style Ribs: Country-style ribs are a type of pork rib that is cut from the loin, rather than the more traditional back ribs. This means that they are boneless and shoulder meat.
Country-style ribs can be cooked in a variety of ways like roasting, grilling, or barbecuing. They can also be used in recipes like soups and stews.
Pork ribs in other varieties
There are some cuts of meat that are specified by the United States Department of Agriculture. However, many of the names and cuts you hear are created over time and vary by region.
Common names you may hear:
Ribs of the back/loin: The most common types are the back ribs, which are cut from the uppermost part of the rib cage.
Kansas City-style ribs: Kansas City-style ribs, which are cut from below. The ribs are like those in St. Louis but not as closely trimmed.
Riblets: Riblets come from between two or three ribs in the back. They have a lot more meat on them than traditional back ribs because they include more cartilage and connective tissue.
Button ribs – Button ribs are small, thin pieces of meat that come from near the front end of a pig’s ribcage.
How to choose pork ribs
Good quality pork ribs are not as easy to find as one might think. This is because there are a lot of factors that determine the quality of the ribs, such as marbling, tenderness, flavor, and technique.
To select good quality pork ribs, you should look for reddish-pink or purplish-red meat that has marbling and is tender. Pork ribs with more marbling are more tender and flavorful than those.
The second thing to look for in a good quality pork rib is tenderness. It should be easy to cut through with a fork and not feel too tough when you cook it. One way to test the tenderness of the ribs is by pressing on them with your finger – if it yields easily, then it’s probably not good quality.
The third thing to look for is flavor, which can come from different techniques such as brining or rubbing with spices before cooking or from specific cuts of meat such as beef ribs instead of pork ribs.
Choosing ribs that are at least 3 pounds is our preference. It is best to pick ribs with relatively thin fat and plenty of fat marbling. Avoid “shiners”, which are slabs that show bone through the meat due to the meat cutter cutting too close to the bone. During cooking, the bones will fall out.
During the selection process, make sure there are no large areas of surface fat on the slabs and the meat is sufficiently covered over the bones. The best way to buy ribs is to avoid them that have been frozen or previously frozen.
What is the difference between pork ribs and spareribs?
Pig ribs and spareribs are two different types of meat. The two cuts of pork have different flavors and textures. Spareribs and baby back do more than describe size differences.
A baby’s back rib is connected to the spine, which is curved towards the spine, where it meets the backbone. Baby Back ribs are the leanest and most tender of all pork ribs.
Pigs’ breast bones are reached by cutting spareribs from the ends of the baby’s back ribs. The Sparerib, also known as the side rib, is thick, juicy, and comes from the middle of the pig’s belly. It is common to find them with attached sternums, costal cartilages, and flaps.
What is the best type of pork ribs to smoke?
Usually, the best ribs to smoke depending on the taste of the cook, but here are some suggestions.
Baby back ribs, which are cut when the loin is separated from the spine, are among the best meats to grill and smoke when it comes to pork. These ribs are generally smaller and cook faster than other varieties. An average rack weighs around 2 pounds, half of which is bone, and one rack is enough to feed one hungry adult. Their prices tend to be higher.
Compared to baby backs, Louis-style spareribs have a higher percentage of meat on the bone and are fattier, allowing them to deliver more flavor. To those who wonder which part of the pork rib is the most tender, St. Louis-style ribs tend to be more challenging than baby back ribs, but when properly cooked, they can be just as delicate as ribs of other cuts.
The easiest way to prepare baby back ribs and St. Louis-style spareribs is to cook them slow and low. It is easy to cook either by smoking, braising, grilling, or baking. You can also flavor the ribs with spice rubs and sauces.
Above, we discussed the different cuts of pork ribs and their uses. We hope you gained knowledge about it. Pork ribs are a great cut of meat to buy. They have many flavors and are relatively cheap.
When buying pork ribs for your next meal, you should consider the type of cut you want to buy as well as the size. If you’re going to smoke your own, it will be best to buy from a butcher or a store that sells fresh meat.