Pork ribs can be intimidating for most people, especially if you do not buy meat often. You might think that all ribs are the same, but that is not the case. They are different in terms of where they are derived, such as whether they are from the spine or the belly.
Among others, two of the most common terms that you will encounter when buying ribs are St. Louis and baby back. They are both meaty and delicious. Are they different? Read this short St. Louis ribs vs baby back ribs article and learn more from the insights that we will be sharing.
What are St. Louis Ribs?
St Louis Ribs are also called spareribs by some, but there is a slight difference between the two. It is from the part near the belly. Much of the meat is removed and made bacon. Whatever remains will now be called spareribs. The breastbone and the cartilage will also be removed, and when that happens, it is no longer called spareribs but St. Louis ribs.
One of the most common characteristics of St. Louis ribs is that there is a lot of bone and a high amount of fat. With this, you can expect this to be juicier and more flavorful.
If you are looking for a cheaper option, this is what you should choose. It has less meat and also less in demand.
What are Baby Back Ribs?
When talking about ribs, this is perhaps the first thing that will come into mind as it is the most popular. As the name implies, this is from the back or spine of a pig. This is the top part of the rib cage, which is just below the loin muscle.
This part is shorter compared to baby back ribs, which also explains why it is called a baby back. You will find meat between the bones. It is meatier and leaner compared to spareribs or St. Louis ribs. This gives it a stronger meat flavor. Because it isn’t as juicy, however, this can have problems when it comes to moisture, which is important if you are grilling.
Take note that baby back ribs are popular. Plus, it has a lot of lean meat. Because of this, expect that it is going to be a more expensive option.
Tips for Buying Pork Ribs
Regardless if it is St. Louis or baby back ribs that you will be choosing, there are some things that you need to remember when you are buying meat.
One of the most important considerations would be the ratio of the meat to the bone. Ideally, you should choose one with more bone, which will make the meat worth your money.
Freshness is also an important factor. It is best to buy from a local butcher you trust. As much as possible, avoid frozen ribs since you don’t know how long it has been frozen. Speaking of freshness, you also need to look at the color of the meat. It should be light. If it is too dark, this can be an indication that it is old.
Take a look at the cut as well. The meat should still be attached to the bone. If it is loose, there is a chance that it will easily fall off the bone once you are done cooking.
How to Cook St. Louis and Baby Back Ribs
Now, let’s talk about how you can cook these ribs. While there are differences in terms of their physical characteristics, the tips that we will be sharing below will apply to both of them.
One of the most important is to prepare the grill. Remove the membrane. This is the silky part that you will find underneath the meat. This will make the meat tougher to chew. This can also impede the absorption of flavor.
As a way of preparing the meat, find ways to add flavor. You don’t need to marinate the ribs. Instead, what you can do is to apply a dry rub using the herbs and spices that you have depending on the flavor that you like. A simple salt and pepper can work for most people.
Aside from preparing the meat, you also have to get your cooking paraphernalia ready. Whether you will cook it in the grill or oven, among other methods, cleanliness is important. It will also help to oil the surface first so that the meat will not stick as it cooks.
A good way to cook pork ribs is to do is in low heat. If you cook ribs too quickly, they will be tougher to chew. Even when it comes to cooking ribs, patience is a virtue! Most people recommend cooking the ribs at 250 degrees. Try to maintain this throughout the cooking process.
Baste the ribs while it is being cooked. A common mistake that most people commit is to brush it with sauce only once it is done cooking. Doing this would mean that the flavor will not seep into the meat. Also, the ribs can end up being dry. Adding sauce as it heats will help in moisture retention.
Test the meat for doneness so that you will know that it can be taken out of the grill. If the meat feels rubbery, then what this means is that it needs more time for cooking. It would be best to have a meat thermometer to be sure that the desired temperature has already been achieved.
At this point, we hope that you are already enlightened about St. Louis ribs vs baby back ribs. As noted above, St, Louis ribs are from the lower part of the pig near the belly. This is essentially the sparerib with the cartilage and breastbone removed. On the other hand, the baby back ribs are derived from the spine of the pig. If you are looking for meat, then go for baby back ribs. On the other hand, if you are looking for one with more fat, St. Louis ribs is a better choice.