Prepping Ribs for BBQ

So, we always purchase “Spare Ribs”.  They’re usually cheaper than “St Louis Style”.  The difference between Spare Ribs and St. Louis Style is that St Louis Style has the top and back trimmed up.  So, for less money, we can purchase Spare Ribs, trim off that extra meat, and have St. Louis Style ribs for less than we’d pay to buy them pre-trimmed at the store.  Why bother with that extra effort?  Cause that extra meat cooks up just as nice.  It’s just not as pretty.  We cook this “extra meat” alongside our ribs and use that for tasting and picking at so we can still serve a pretty rack of ribs that don’t have little spots missing cause we have no self control.  haha!

We used to leave the extra meat attached to the ribs and cook it all together.  But the brisket bone and cartilage at the top of the cut made it very hard to chop HOT ribs for serving.  So now we cook them separate and the ribs are easier to chop up.  The brisket and skirt can be picked apart rather easily.

Remove the Silver.  This is a thin membrane across the backside of the ribs (against the actual bone).  It’s awful eating.  Actually, it can’t even be eaten.  If you’ve ever had ribs that felt like there was burnt plastic wrap or some kind of paper stuck to the back of them, what you were tasting was the silver.  It’s difficult to remove.  But not nearly impossible.  Take a knife or even the handle of a spoon and get it up under the silver, wiggle it around till you have enough that you can get a good handle on it (it’s slippery) then yank across the ribs to tear it off.  Sometimes it comes off in one nice big piece.  Other times, it’s several small pieces.  If a little bit gets left on, don’t worry.  But you’re going to want the bulk of it removed as best you can.

On the back side of the ribs, you’ll see a little flap of meat.  That’s called the “skirt” and it’s GREAT.  It cooks up nice and soft, falls apart in your mouth.  And it’s pretty much the only reason I don’t care for trimming the ribs.  It’s so good to get that chunk on the back of a rib.  But it’s just as good on its own or diced into a pork sandwich.  So, we’re going to trim off that skirt (and leave it attached to the top piece…the Brisket).  If you look at the ribs from the side, you can see where it transitions from bone to cartilage to bone again (the brisket bone).  You want to cut just below (or through) the cartilage, separating the ribs proper from the rest of the meat.

What you’re left with are called St. Louis Style Ribs.  If we were to leave the skirt on (but still remove the upper meat) they would be Kansas City Style Ribs.  And if we leave it all alone, they are called what we purchased… Spare Ribs.
Here is a video of trimming the ribs.  First we remove the silver, then cut off the extra meat and skirt.