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Question about Spare Ribs Fat/Gristle

Discussion in 'Pork' started by tlhiv, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. tlhiv

    tlhiv Smoke Blower

    Hi folks.  After a pretty successful spare rib smoke this past weekend, I have a question about ribs in general.  I've not eaten many ribs in my life, so my inexperience is causing the question (I'm more of a butt and brisket guy).

    After smoking two slabs of spare ribs this weekend (and they turned out to be as tender as anything I could have imagined), I noticed that there was still some fat and gristle left on the tip of each rib.  The meat around each rib was heavenly, but the tip of each rib consisted of a hard (almost boney) substance that appeared to be either hard fat or gristle.  Is this standard for spare ribs?

    For what it's worth, the spares that I smoked were pre-cut by the butcher and labeled "St. Louis Style Spare Ribs" which I assumed was simply trimmed to about the same length, and removing the brisket bone.

    I'm attaching a couple of pictures to illustrate the "problem".  I'm looking forward to some expert rib eater's opinion [​IMG]


  2. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    the butcher didn't quite take out enough on the trim.

     Those pieces of cartlidge should be removed when they are trimed.
  3. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yeah, Eman is right again! Those ribs look very nice, especially comin from a butt and brisket guy![​IMG]
  4. tlhiv

    tlhiv Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the information.  After you telling me that it's cartilage, I realized that this is known as "rib tips" and that they should be removed if they are going to be considered "St. Louis Style".  For my next slab(s), I will make sure I remove them (if they're not already removed).  I'm not sure how you can tell where the bone ends and the rib tips begin, so hopefully I can get some feedback here.

    Thanks again!
  5. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I just started doing St Louis Cut myself a little while ago, and I still haven't hit it right. I guess I'm always trying not to get my ribs so narrow. I always seem to leave a little of the stuff running the long way. I'll be watching for some of these tips too!

  6. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Removing the tips is east, just have a good sharp knife and feel along the rib bone till you feel the joint where the cartlidge and bone meat ([​IMG]), cut just on the cartlidge side of that "joint", move to next rib and repeat.

    Now just to let you know you will find that at one end you will have a nice length rib bone, but on the other it will only be about 2" long, so if you cut the tip off entirely you will have a very wedge shaped rack of ribs left. That is why a lot of folks start at the end of the long rib bone and basically cut almost straight across to the other end. It leaves more cartlidge on the shorter bones, but it cooks more evenly, and looks a lot nicer. That is what your butcher did.

    Personally I do the more straight across cut, with a little curve, but still keeping the width fairly even from one end to the other. Don't forget to rub and smoke those tips! They usually finish up about half way through the smoke and can be used for cook snack sandwiches or chopped up and tossed into baked beans! Mmmmmm! [​IMG]