When it comes to preparing ribs, it is not just about picking any part of the animal ribs and start preparing. They have to be cut and prepared in a certain way to qualify as either St. Louis ribs or baby back ribs.
Today, we will look at these two to understand their differences and how to cook them. Their differences are majorly based on volume, fat content, and cut. Let us get into the differences and recipes below.
What are St. Louis Style Ribs?
St. Louis Ribs are also referred to as St. Louis Spares in some places. Just know they are the same. These ribs got their name based on their origin. They originated from a famous meat-packing industry that was located in St. Louis, Missouri. It is easy now to see clearly why they chose the name.
As for the cuts, ribs are segmented into two major sections. One of the sections is the spare ribs while the other called baby back ribs, which are characterized for having the loin-back.
The St. Louis ribs utilize the use of the spare ribs part. These are the ribs after the rack region. Parts such as the cartilage and breastbone are removed or trimmed from the side.
To finally end up with the St. Louis rib, you still have to trim the end flap of the meat found at the end of the rack. Expect this excess meat to be on the rack’s last bone.
You have to ensure that you trim off the pieces evenly to give them a uniform rectangular look. This makes them perfect for grilling or smoking. It should be easy to trim the ribs to have the desired shape so that you can enjoy eating them later.
As for the fat and meat content, expect to find St. Louis ribs to have a higher fat content as compared to baby back ribs. This is because these ribs are cut to be larger and meatier. However, they will always lack the extra fat and meat found on the rib tips as they are trimmed off. Well, these ribs still hold enough meat volume on the bone they are cut from.
What are Baby Back Style Ribs?
They are named baby back ribs because they are smaller in size when comparing them to the regular spare ribs. Also, they originate from the top of the animal’s rib cage just below its loin muscle. In some cases, they would be referred to as loin ribs.
These baby back ribs would need more work to prepare as compared to spare ribs. First, you will have to trim off fat that might be sticking to the bones. Also, you have to trim off the fatty skin or sinew from its meaty side. Proceed to peel off the membrane too to leave you with a silver-like skin for uniform and even seasoning.
As expected, the baby back ribs have a lot more meat content. They might not have a lot of fat content, but they have tender meat that should be easy to eat off the bones. It is possible to get most restaurants offering baby back ribs since they are smaller and still fun to eat.
Ingredients for St. Louis Ribs and Baby Back Ribs
When it comes to preparing St. Louis ribs or baby back ribs, their ingredients are relatively the same. You will need a dry rub seasoning of your choice. The most common rub would have sweet, salty, and spicy elements. Some might include brown sugar, paprika, pepper, cayenne, and salt all mixed into one. You can easily make rubs at home.
You can still use plain fruit juice as part of the process. The most common fruit juices of choice will be orange, apple, and cherry. Apple is often preferred for giving off the sweet and sour taste and still gives off a nice smoky fragrance to your ribs.
Spray olive oil also comes in handy to finish off the ribs. A tomato-based sauce is a nice choice to consider lathering it on the ribs.
How to Prepare St. Louis Ribs
- Start by massaging the dry rub onto your ribs. Make sure to fully cover the ribs with the rub adequately. After this, place the ribs in the refrigerator for around 2 to 4 hours to get the rub break into the meat for further penetration.
- Set your grill up to 250 degrees. It does not matter whether you are smoking or grilling. Proceed to spray the ribs with the fruit juice while placed on the grill or smoker. Close the lid and keep checking on the ribs every ½ hour or hour.
- Depending on the thickness of the meat, it would take an average of 3 to 4 hours to cook them. Before you can finish cooking, add the tomato sauce and spray the olive oil to give it that nice glaze. Just like that, your ribs should be good to serve.
How to Prepare Baby Back Ribs
- The starting process is the same as for St. Louis ribs where you apply the rub and let it settle in the refrigerator for hours. Later on, take them out and have them settle at room temperature for around 30 minutes.
- Set your smoker to 250 degrees. Set your ribs to moisten on the grill with a vinegar/oil mix.
- Proceed to close the smoker lid and keep rubbing more oil/vinegar mix every half hour.
- After 3 hours, your ribs should be ready to serve. Do a bone test. This is where the bone tends to become more visible when your ribs are ready to serve.
Right now, you have an idea about what each of the ribs mean and how they can be prepared. You will always find most restaurants offering baby back ribs because of their size and ease of preparing. Nevertheless, it is always up to you to try out some new ribs such as the St. Louis ribs if you want to prepare them at home. Both will result into excellent and delicious ribs. You can always choose your favorite after you have tried both of them.