When ribs are featured at a restaurant, they often come in various selections and varieties. Therefore, eating barbecue can involve one of several kinds of meats. When anyone lithely refers to ribs, they generally mean ribs that are made of pork. While beef ribs are delicious as well, barbecue connoisseurs generally mean pork ribs when ordering ribs at a barbecue restaurant.
The Three Main Types of Pork Ribs
The three main kinds of pork ribs include spare ribs, baby back ribs, and country style ribs. However, country style ribs are not really ribs. That is because this section is cut from the loin, or right behind the upper part of a hog’s shoulder.
Fattier Cuts of Meat
Country style ribs are more like pork chops that are fatty in nature than they are like ribs. While this cut of ribs features more fat per pound, the meat between the fat is less marbled and leaner than other styles of ribs. That makes country ribs the meatiest of the rib varieties.
Baby Back Ribs
Baby back ribs—always a popular selection—are cut from the pig’s loin section. A covering of meat is displayed over the bones as well as between the bones. These specialty ribs are smaller, leaner, and shorter in length than spare ribs. They also cost more on most restaurant menus.
Spare ribs are considered traditional ribs. They come from a hog’s belly, behind the shoulder. Spare ribs consist of 11 to 13 bones. A covering of meat is featured on the long bones as well as in between them. These ribs are typically the least expensive cut of ribs on a menu. Kansas City style ribs and St. Louis style ribs are both types of spare ribs.
The Difference between Kansas City and St. Louis Style Ribs
These two styles refer to how the ribs have been trimmed. While Kansas City style ribs have more of the bone removed, the St. Louis style gets rid of the brisket. Once these kinds of ribs are trimmed for sale, they often are termed as 3 ½ down. This reference notes the fact that correctly-cut ribs do not surpass a weight of 3.5 pounds.
The Best Cuts for Barbecuing
This all leads to the question of what type of ribs are the best for barbecuing. The answer depends on a number of factors. Again, spare ribs are more economical and therefore are often used for barbecuing or smoking. Because these ribs have more fat than baby back ribs, they are less desirable to people who are not acclimated to the joy of eating barbecue. However, the long and slow cook of a barbecue makes spare ribs an ideal selection for this form of cooking. By cooking the ribs over a low heat, the fat will be rendered, which will keep the ribs moist and tasty to eat.
How to Cook the Other Styles
Baby back ribs have less fat and an excellent flavor. Therefore, they can be cooked faster and do not need to be slow-cooked. That is because they feature little fat. On the other hand, people who are serious about their barbecue normally do not eat country style ribs. Instead, they prefer bone-in ribs. However, country style ribs are good for grilling.