What is the Purpose of Baby Backs? Also: Rub Question

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Count Porcula

Meat Mopper
Original poster
SMF Premier Member
Sep 25, 2020
202
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My local store put baby backs on sale, so I bought some. I always eat spare ribs, but I thought I would be open-minded as well as cheap this time.

These things have no personality. They just do not have as much flavor, and the fat is lacking. They're smaller, dryer, and more expensive, so it's hard for me to understand why anyone would want them.

Am I supposed to treat them differently from spare ribs?

Another question: should I take the sugar out of my dry rub? I'm not sure it serves any purpose, since sauce is sweet. I suspect it makes the ribs darker.
 
I bought a whole rack for about $9.50, which was half price. I would guess the net weight of the meat was under two pounds. Not a great bargain for pork.

I see websites saying baby backs are more tender. The ones I made were not, although I am obviously not expert at smoking them. I went like 5 hours at around 230. They never surrendered the way spare ribs do. Tender enough, but spare ribs come off the bone with just a little effort, and they are juicy and basically wonderful.

I saw a site saying baby backs were meatier. Uh...what? All the baby backs I've seen have been tiny, without a lot of meat.
 
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I bought a whole rack for about $9.50, which was half price. I would guess the net weight of the meat was under two pounds. Not a great bargain for pork.

I see websites saying baby backs are more tender. The ones I made were not, although I am obviously not expert at smoking them. I went like 5 hours at around 230. They never surrendered the way spare ribs do. Tender enough, but spare ribs come off the bone with just a little effort, and they are juicy and basically wonderful.

I saw a site saying baby backs were meatier. Uh...what? All the baby backs I've seen have been tiny, without a lot of meat.
Well, there are a lot of factors. Including the quality of the cut and how you prepare / smoke them. It might be that they were on sale cause they're kinda crappy ribs. Back ribs tend to be leaner. They'll be tender if prepared right...with the caveat that nothing you can do will make a poor cut of meat better. You can prepare it in different ways and mitigate some things, and you can sure take a great cut and screw it up, but things like thin....extra lean...poor fed...older animals just don't make good BBQ.

I'll be honest, the majority of any success I've had I would have to give most of the credit to quality meat.
 
Thinking back, I realize I never thought much of baby backs I bought at restaurants, so I don't think I'm the weak link this time. I think these things are just a ripoff. Spare ribs are pure joy.
 
https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/winter-baby-backs.323816/

Not every one likes spare ribs or fall off the bone ribs. The link above is how I do baby backs. Done right they are divine! Most the cuts have a large section of loin meat which gets dry above a INT of 150. I trim all the off as it’s just added there to maximize profit. The ribs above are pre trimmed. Baby backs are not as forgiving while cooking as spares either. The above method is what I recommend it’s easy and produces a very nice pork rib. If you want fall off the bone, spares are what you want. We do pulled pork for fall off the bone….

One of my all time fav version of baby backs is when they are cooked to INT of 145-150 on a rack of pork. Here is and example of my last rack of pork.
https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/throwdown-leftovers-“parts”.324713/#post-2481244

The best part about smoking your own ribs is you get them the way you want them!
 
So you put them on a grill?

I don't like ribs cooked to mush, but I do want the meat to leave the bone without a lot of chewing and struggling.

Sounds like baby backs just aren't for my type of BBQ.
 
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I smoke them at 235 till around 192-194 ish for an INT. The resting covered for 30 mins after is critical.

If you smoke them for 5 hours they will likely be over done. There is less connective tissue in the BB so they don’t need to be rendered to the higher INT temp or wrapped cooked to be tender.

This glistening tender texture is what I aim for
IMG_7350.jpeg

Its buttery smooth and bite through like comp chicken.
 
Last edited:
https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/winter-baby-backs.323816/

Not every one likes spare ribs or fall off the bone ribs. The link above is how I do baby backs. Done right they are divine! Most the cuts have a large section of loin meat which gets dry above a INT of 150. I trim all the off as it’s just added there to maximize profit. The ribs above are pre trimmed. Baby backs are not as forgiving while cooking as spares either. The above method is what I recommend it’s easy and produces a very nice pork rib. If you want fall off the bone, spares are what you want. We do pulled pork for fall off the bone….

One of my all time fav version of baby backs is when they are cooked to INT of 145-150 on a rack of pork. Here is and example of my last rack of pork.
https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/throwdown-leftovers-“parts”.324713/#post-2481244

The best part about smoking your own ribs is you get them the way you want them!
Civil!! I remember that BB post you did....but the rack of pork I must have missed. It looks amazing. You source local right? Can I just go to a butcher and ask for a rack like that? I've seen lamb that way but never pork.
 
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I like them also, I like to sauce them. While whole spares I prefer just S/P and some sauce on the side.

The ones I get are meatier than whole spares. I have trouble finding whole spares with any meat on the bones.
 
Civil!! I remember that BB post you did....but the rack of pork I must have missed. It looks amazing. You source local right? Can I just go to a butcher and ask for a rack like that? I've seen lamb that way but never pork.
Bdoc, I get the rack of pork at our Costco. Usually 2.99/lb. You can also cut them into bone in chops usually 2-3/lb cheeper than the butcher cut ones. If you can’t source at Costco, yes just ask the butcher to a rack of pork and they should be able to save one for you.
 
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Bdoc, I get the rack of pork at our Costco. Usually 2.99/lb. You can also cut them into bone in chops usually 2-3/lb cheeper than the butcher cut ones. If you can’t source at Costco, yes just ask the butcher to a rack of pork and they should be able to save one for you.
Oh...I have a Costco! I'll have to look closer!!
 
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Another vote for baby backs sans loin meat. I struggle to get all of the little cartilage pieces out of spares even though I trim st Louie style. Family doesn’t like the hard cartilage
 
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I must be a weirdo. I like the loin meat on baby backs. What I don't do is over cook them. I can not stand FOTB ribs of any sort so I just probe them til I like the way they feel. Can't say I've ever fixated on a temperature.
 
Yup definitely two camps when it comes to ribs. It's unfortunate the FOTB moniker took hold so tightly. This is similar to cooking steaks well done vs med-rare in that it's origin can be traced back to the days when refrigeration wasn't present. People got by due to cooking the heck out of the meat. Generations got use to it. Along comes modern day refrigeration and the ability to consume a way more flavorful med-rare to medium steak but many were too set in their ways. Even now, there are still some who want their steak med-well to well done. Just goes to show old habits die slowly. IMO, FOTB takes the meat past it's peak flavor point vs ribs with a clean bite through. Of course, once one throws on a bunch of sauce the meat flavor profile is all but masked. Eat 'em the way you like but in this house you will only find clean bite through ribs. :emoji_wink:
 
I do alot of pork back ribs. At least in my area, we don't have a Costco near by. And my experience with spare ribs is they seem skinny, at least what we get here. I've always heard people talk about how much more meat they have, and always thought, " yall are getting better cuts than me". Lol. But a good half moon bite is what I'm looking for. Either way, you got a good lookin rib, there.
 
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