How To Cook Spare Ribs (Side Ribs)

How To Cook Spare Ribs

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Alternative Names:

Side Ribs, St. Louis Style Ribs, South Side Ribs



Top photo is a whole spare rib. Bottom photo the brisket is removed and this is what is known as St. Louis Style Ribs.

Spareribs are cut from the pork belly, where bacon comes from. Spareribs usually have 11-14 ribs and weigh about 2-4 pounds (1-2 kg). Spareribs are fattier, meatier, a little less tender and less expensive than baby back ribs.

Spareribs are very popular at barbecues but many people still don't know how to cook ribs. Spare ribs can be sold as a whole slab, whole ribs have a flap of meat found on the inside called the skirt and a breast bone and cartilage running along the outer edge.

Many stores and butcher shops will remove the skirt and breast bone giving the spareribs a more rectangular look similar to the baby back ribs. Once the skirt, breast bone and cartilage are removed the spareribs can be marketed as St. Louis Style Ribs. Many grocery stores will then cut the ribs length ways into 2 smaller pieces and retail them in smaller quantities.

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

How to cook spare ribs

Enhanced or seasoned pork is becoming more and more popular in grocery stores in the United States and Canada. If the pork you have purchased is enhanced do not use a brine solution or add any salt to the recipe. Read this article to learn more about enhanced or seasoned pork.

Ribs have a skin like membrane located on the bone side of the ribs which many debate on how to cook spare ribs, whether the skin should be removed or left on prior to cooking. Some say it prevents smoke and spices from penetrating the meat and some experts say that removing the skin robs the ribs of flavor and moisture.

We found that leaving the skin on did not interfere with the flavor but the skin left on will make the ribs a little more chewy. When cooking spare ribs we prefer to remove the skin.

Removing Skin

On the bone side of the rib start at the small end of the slab and use a butter knife or similar tool to work up part of the skin membrane. It seems to be easier to get this started on the short bones rather than on the long bones. Grasp the membrane with a paper towel and pull it off toward the wide end of the slab.

If you're careful and lucky, you'll get the membrane off in a single piece. The membrane on spare ribs may shred when pulled off, so you may have to pry up a few remaining bits and pull them off.

Don't be fooled by what you see beneath the membrane you've just removed. There appears to be another layer of membrane and many people are tempted to try to remove it. You can't and you shouldn't...that material is what holds the meat and bones together. Just leave it alone.

If you're having a hard time prying up the membrane, it may not be there, some prepackaged ribs have the skin already removed.

Gas Grill

How to cook spare ribs

1. Season each side of each rib with 1 tablespoon of a BBQ dry rub 30-60 minutes in a large plastic food bag or container in the refrigerator. For a more potent flavor keep in refrigerator 4-8 hours or overnight.

2. About 30 minutes before cooking the ribs remove from the refrigerator, unwrap to bring it to room temperature. This next step is optional, to add a southern smoky flavor soak 2-3 cups of hickory or mesquite wood chips covered in cold water about 15 minutes, drain and place in a metal wood chip box which can be found where most grills are sold.

You can also use rectangular disposable foil tray for the wood chips or make your own out of aluminum foil. Take a piece of aluminum foil 15-20 inches long, fold both longs sides up about 1 inch and repeat on both short ends creating a tray to hold the wood chips. Cover container tightly with foil and use a fork to make about 5-6 holes to allow the smoke to escape

3. Place tray with wood chips on the grill and turn on all burners to high. Close lid and preheat 15-20 minutes until the wood chips are heavily smoking. If not using wood chips preheat grill for 15 -20 minutes on high.

4. Turn the burners down to medium on half the grill. Turn the burners off on the other half of the grill. Scrape the grill clean with a wire brush, place the woods chips over the heated half of the grill and place the ribs over the cool part of the grill and close the lid. Try to keep the temperature about 275 degrees, adjust the heated burner as necessary. Cook for 3-4 hours with lid down turning ribs every 30 minutes until the meat easily pulls away from the bones. An optional barbecue sauce can be brushed on the final 30 minutes of grilling.

When turning the ribs or brushing on a barbecue sauce work quickly to close cover and retain as much heat as possible in the grill.

5. Remove the ribs from the grill and wrap each rib in aluminum foil. Place the foil wrapped ribs in a brown paper bag and tightly fold the bag to seal. Allow to rest at room temperature for one hour. This step will greatly improve the texture and tenderness of the ribs, the meat will fall off the bones. When family and friends try these ribs they will be asking you how to grill ribs.

Charcoal Grill

How to cook spare ribs

1. Season each side of each rib with 1 tablespoon of a BBQ dry rub 30-60 minutes in a large plastic food bag or container in the refrigerator. For a more potent flavor keep in refrigerator 4-8 hours or overnight.

2. About 30 minutes before cooking the ribs remove from the refrigerator, unwrap to bring it to room temperature. Soak hickory or mesquite wood chunks covered in cold water for 1 hour and drain or soak wood chips 15 minutes and drain, place in an aluminum or tinfoil container. Cover container tightly with foil and use a fork to make about 5-6 holes to allow the smoke to escape.

3. Meanwhile, light a fire filling about ¾ with charcoal briquettes and allow to burn until covered with a thin layer of gray ash. Move coals to one side of the grill, piling 2-3 briquettes high. Open bottom vents completely and place wood chunks or the containers with wood chips on top of the charcoal.

4. Open grill lid vents completely and cover, turning the lid so that the vents are opposite the wood chunks or chips to draw smoke through the grill. Let the grill heat for 5 minutes and clean with a wire brush.

5. Place ribs on the cool side of the grill and cover. Cook for 3-4 hours turning every 30 minutes until the meat easily pulls away from the bones. An optional barbecue sauce can be brushed on the final 30 minutes of grilling.

When turning the ribs or brushing on a barbecue sauce work quickly to close cover and retain as much heat as possible in the grill.

6. Remove the ribs from the grill and wrap each rib in aluminum foil. Place the foil wrapped ribs in a brown paper bag and tightly fold the bag to seal. Allow to rest at room temperature for one hour. This step will greatly improve the texture and tenderness of the ribs, the meat will fall off the bones. Once your family and friends try these ribs they will be asking you how to bbq ribs.

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Oven Temperatures

Fahrenheit (°F) Celsius (°C)

125° 52°

150° 66°

175° 80°

200° 93°

225° 107°

250° 121°

275° 135°

300° 149°

325° 163°

350° 177°

375° 190°

400° 205°

425° 218°

450° 232°

475° 246°

500° 260°

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