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How to select pork ribs?

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    How to select pork ribs?

    Made two racks of STLs today, blasphemy style, PBC. I picked both racks up at the same time at the same place, same brand (Smithfield). Picked out two of the biggest racks, about the same size. When I cut them apart I noticed one had layers of fat and one was more marbled. I assume you would prefer the marbled one. But that begs the question, how do you tell when picking out pork ribs? There is no grading on the package. I don't know how to tell without cutting into them how fatty they are.

    These both were much fattier than the last racks I cooked. I intentionally cooked them longer than I normally would so more of the fat would render out, and I was really happy with the results. Blasphemy style helped me out there I think. These would not have scored well in a competition but I really liked them. Personal preference. I liked having more bark on them. I also used Gates and Bryant sauces on them, another departure from competition ribs where they are always so sweet, the salt and vinegar flavors were a welcome change for me.
    Sorry for the poor pic and presentation, many were already missing! I also ate the thinner ones first since I figured they wouldn't reheat as well.

    Click image for larger version

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    This is the problem with the cryovac packed ribs. Can’t really see what’s in there. The Costco three packs are the worst. The rack sandwiched between the other two is a real crap shoot. Usually bad.

    As a result, I now only buy ribs from a butcher shop. More expensive but always better quality and you see what you’re getting before you buy.


    • wu7y
      wu7y commented
      Editing a comment
      I have the same problem with cryovaced pork bellies. You can't see the meat/fat ratio until package is opened. One of the last ones I got was probably 85% fat.

    • shify
      shify commented
      Editing a comment
      I buy those Costco 3-packs and haven’t really had any issues. The last pack one of the racks had a lot more surface fat on the underside, more than I had ever seen on a rack, so it required some extra trimming but still cooked up great.

    Without really any reasoning, I try to pick packages that aren’t too big, and aren’t too small. Well, there is a little reasoning. The ones that are too big don’t fit well on the LBGE, and the ones that are too small have a bad meat-to-bone ratio.

    ETA: I get cryovac’d twin packs from Wegman’s, usually Hatfield, which I like.

    Also I have come down firmly in favor of spares over baby backs, and center-cut over St Louis and full spares (with the breast bone). Center cut leaves the flap meat and the tips, plus the extra meat at both ends. I love those pieces.

    If all I can find are too big, I get them anyhow, and cut them in half and jigsaw puzzle them onto the BGE. Never underestimate desire.
    Last edited by Mosca; June 24, 2020, 07:12 PM.


      For St.Lewis I shoot for as close to 4# as possible. At the butcher shop, I go by sight.


        Yup, it's always gonn b a carp shoot...one cook I posted, over to th pork section, 2 racks same store same trip same processor, an were within literally 0.01 oz of each other, yet they cooked entirely differently, side by side

        Jus pick out th one(s) ya like th looks of, an make em happen, I reckon...
        Last edited by Mr. Bones; June 24, 2020, 07:48 PM.


          For baby backs I try to pick the racks that are near 2.5 lbs. The bigger ones have loin meat on them that can dry a little.


            Back Ribs (notice I didn't mention the fake baby elephant in the room) I try not to purchase at all. But freaking loin meat convention here I come if the SLC's are nowhere to be found.

            SLC's single packs and check out the thin end to make sure it doesn't slim down to my waist size. I used to worry about weight but them thick dudes get some GOOOOD bark before they are done, especially if you smoke at 275+.



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