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Pork Shoulder "Western Ribs"

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone.  This is my first post here (besides Roll Call), and I'm looking to get some advice based on my most recent smoke.


Over the holiday weekend, I went to our local meat market and checked out the various cuts they had.  I was just looking for something for myself and my wife, so I didn't want a huge piece of meat.  They were selling "pork shoulder western ribs", which the guy said were strips of meat cut from the very top of the pork shoulder, and some (but not all) had some bone.  I got three, which weighed just over 2 lbs. all together.


I brined them overnight (salt and dark brown sugar), put them in the smoker for about 3.5 hours (at which the IT was 175), then added BBQ sauce and smoked for another 1.5 hours (at which the IT was 192).  My smoker (which uses a cast iron skillet on an electric element) was set to 240 degrees.


The results were okay, but kinda dry.  It seems that the cut of meat was pretty lean, and may not have benefited from the higher IT as there didn't seem to be much fat or connective tissue to melt apart.  So my question is: What should I do next time?  Should I pull it out at a lower IT?  Maybe include a water pan?  Thanks in advance for any tips.


(PS, I do have before/after pics if you think that'll help)

post #2 of 15

They almost sound like a country style boneless rib. 

post #3 of 15

Hi Michael


Yeah, I think that your gut instinct is correct, temps were too high.  We take a pork loin, cut it into chops and cook them on the grill to 145, let them rest a bit and they'll end up at about 150, perfect every time.


Oh, and yeah, you gotta post picts!

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Okay, I just Googled country style ribs, and they look exactly like what I had.  It's a bit of a pain that they would call it something different than everyone else (although this particular market has the best meat I've seen around town).


So with that cleared up, I think my options seem to be either removing the meat at lower temp, or I see some people wrapping the ribs in foil for the last few hours.  What might be the best fix?


EDIT: WaywardSwede, we posted the same time.  Thanks for the advice, I might try again soon with a lower temp.  I'll get those pics up soon, too.

post #5 of 15

Well, if they're ribs I change my suggestion and would probably do them using the standard 3-2-1 method.  I have a post from Chef JimmyJ saved and use slight variations of this for my standard ribs:


As I'm looking through my notes I also see where I saved a recipe for CSR's from Bear, but I haven't tried this yet:


I hope these help.

Edited by WaywardSwede - 7/8/14 at 12:07pm
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Yes, I definitely think this would be a good time to try the 3-2-1 method. I'll try again this weekend. Thanks!
post #7 of 15

Yep.  Those are country style ribs, but CSR's can be two different cuts.  Some can be part of the loin with the bone on them and others are slimmer cuts of the boston butt.  If they are from the boston butt, you are good using the 3-2-1. 

post #8 of 15

I know we're talking smoking here, but I usually do country style ribs on my gas grill.  I've even been known to pan fry them to get them seared, then let them finish in the oven at about 325°.  Either way, they have always been really tender.  Regardless of which way I cook them, I prepare them with ground black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and let them rest a couple of hours before cooking.  This has worked for us because country style ribs are not that far from the portion of the loin where you get pork chops.  This discussion has me thinking I might just grab some to throw in my smoker next time and give them a try that way.


A side note here about the terminology.  I'm a native Texan and first cooked "country style ribs" in the early 90s after seeing them at the grocery store.  After moving to Florida in the late 90s, stores had them labeled the same way.  Now that we're living in south Georgia, that cut is labeled "Texas style ribs".  No, I haven't asked anyone why.  Maybe I don't want to hear the explanation?

post #9 of 15

Before I got serious about smoking, I cooked a lot of them on the grill.


When I started grilling with indirect heat, I had no idea I was in the early stages of a full blown smoking addiction.


Good luck and good smoking.

post #10 of 15

Hi Michael,


The CSR smoke that came out the best for me is the one Swede (David) posted above. It's actually better than the one I have in my Index.


Here it is again:




Edited by Bearcarver - 7/10/14 at 12:07pm
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

I am a scientist by training (currently a grad student in experimental psychology), so I think I'll approach this by changing only one thing, and keeping everything from the last time constant.  I keep a journal of all the attempts I make, and I will attempt to do everything the same (brine, smoker temp, wood type, etc.) but instead do the 3-2-1 method (thereby making my independent variable the timing method).  I will let you guys know once I have the results (this will likely happen this Sunday).

post #12 of 15

If it is CSR's, I would not do a 3-2-1. More like a 2-1.5-.5 or 2-1-1. They just do not need 6 hours to be done.

post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by Flash View Post

If it is CSR's, I would not do a 3-2-1. More like a 2-1.5-.5 or 2-1-1. They just do not need 6 hours to be done.

Hi Flash!!


I agree. The one I linked earlier was 2.5--1.5--20 minutes on the grill.


I think it's shorter because they are in pieces, so the heat gets at them from all 4 sides of each piece, instead of only 2 sides of the whole rack.




post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

So I bought two more "western ribs" over the weekend and threw them in the smoker while I had a chicken in there.  I did them as simple as possible.  No brine or seasoning beforehand.  I smoked them at 240 degrees with apple wood chips using a 2-1.5-1 method, putting BBQ sauce on for that final hour.  They came out pretty much exactly how I wanted them to.  They were very tender, but didn't fall completely apart.  One of the ribs had a segment of bone, and it came off the bone cleanly with little effort, while still holding on just enough  This will be something I do as a big batch for a group soon.


My local store does sell both pork shoulder ribs and pork loin CSRs.  I'll try the loin CSRs at some point, but I'll probably use our Weber kettle grill to get higher heat.

post #15 of 15

Glad that came out for you.  I agree that 3-2-1 would be heavy for those.


As to the "Western" ribs?  Maybe that pig was facing west before they slaughtered it?


Good luck and good smoking.

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