Which is better - Baby Back Ribs or Spare Ribs (cut St. Louis style)?

Discussion in 'Meat Selection and Processing' started by jwgordon, May 16, 2014.

  1. jwgordon

    jwgordon Newbie

    Which type of ribs does everyone prefer? For those of you who have done St. Louis style spare ribs, is the 3-2-1 cooking method the best option, and what temperature? 
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't!"

    Kind of a mood thing for me.  I prefer SLC spares; my wife prefers the leaner BBs.  Since I'm the guy doing the smoking I generally do SLCs because they are less temperamental than BBs and I can set and forget.  I wet smoke SLCs unwrapped at 225-235F for around 5.5 to 6 hours, spritzing just 2-3 times, and they are done to my liking.

    I rarely go more than 4 hours on BBs, same temp, and always wrap, using a 2-1-1 or 2.5-1-.5.         
  3. so ms smoker

    so ms smoker Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

      I prefer StLouis style ribs and normally do the 3-2-1 method or close to it.

  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    St Louis Cut all the way! I use 3-2-1 at 225° and my Foiling Juice. http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/110881/foiling-juice-chef-jimmyj

    Or if time is an issue, I smoke them at 275° for Four straight hours, No Foil. This method makes ribs a bit firmer with a bite through texture. 3-2-1 are more tender, closer to fall of the bone...JJ
  5. mfalto

    mfalto Fire Starter

    I prefer bbb ribs because they are less fatty.  I buy them at Costco in a  nine to ten pound pack of three.  I put a dry rub on them the night before.  I smoke at about 230 degrees  for four hours spraying them with apple juice after the first three hours. After four hours I wrap in foil putting more rub on and spraying with apple juice.  I cook them wrapped, meat side down, for another two and a half hours.  Always come out fantastic.  I have posted picks on my latest thread. 
  6. I do envy the meat selection from the US.  I live out in eastern Quebec, and when I say eastern it's not an exaggeration.  I had to teach my butcher what a brisket was and people look at me weird when I ask for beef ribs always trying to give me prime rib instead.

    I don't often see St-Louis cut ribs.  Back ribs are common, and side ribs with the extras attached are too.  Best ribs I made so far was a batch of the side ribs.  I have the impression that since the bones are closer together they are a tad more forgiving.
  7. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    St Louis cut ribs are side ribs without the skirt thing. Very easy to trim. Look up videos on YouTube.

    Here in Ontario Costco has good ribs (both backs and sides).I would think they offer the same in QC.

    I hear your pain re: brisket. Have hard time sourcing packer here too.

    Easier with pre-order.
  8. That's pretty much what I did on the ribs last time but without the video, thanks for the suggestion I best be checking if I'm doing it right.  ;)

    The nearest Costco is a 6 hour drive from here, but when I do go by a Costco, I do have fun filling up the coolers.  I did find a guy near Quebec City that raises Angus beef and has the best steaks I've ever had in my life.  He told me that if I call him on my next trip down he'll prepare me a nice brisket to bring back...sounds like a plan to me. 

    In this town, I've got the grocery stores and 2 butcher shops.  I'm doing my best to get in the good graces of the butchers in each of them, so far so good.
  9. I also just go by what mood I'm in, do both quite frequently spare using 3-2-1 and usually baby backs straight away that come out perfect.
  10. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    IMHO, neither is better or worse.. If ya can :th_wsmsmile0ly:....:cheers:.... :bluesbros:..... Then it's been a great day ! :yahoo:
  11. I prefer St .Louis  2-3-1 225-240  i think the extra foil time makes them more tender ,my daughter prefers baby backs .2-2-1  225-240  spritzing  with apple cider then my special sauce bath the last hour.[​IMG]
  12. jwgordon

    jwgordon Newbie

    Thanks for all the responses/opinions.  Here's why I ask.  When I get bbb ribs from our local market, one end is always SO thick!  My husband doesn't like it at all (doesn't like thick meat at all, I even have to pound my chicken breasts thin, etc.)  Is it typical for bbb ribs to be really thick on one end, or is it maybe the way our butcher is cutting them?  That's why I'm thinking about trying SLC.  They seem more of an even thickness.   Just wondering about the quality of the bbb ribs where you all are, and if all bbb ribs are really thick on one end.  I've never noticed this in restaurants...   Thanks!
  13. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have the same thing at my local market.  There can easily be a 1" difference (or more) in the meat thickness between the ends of BB's, much less so on SLCs but there is still a difference.

    It's been so long since I've eaten ribs as a restaurant I can't remember what they were like.
  14. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm with Jimmy


    250°  (2-1/2) - (1-1/2) - (1)

    When cooking for me which is rare, I sometimes cut the foiling time even further, I don't like my ribs mushy (I use that word loosely).

    For the Masses 3 2 1 works great.

    For my pit I think the 3 2 1 applies better to untrimmed at 250° and trimmed at 225°

    Sometimes 4- 5 hours straight at higher temps 250 - 275°, checked with the bend test.

    These number are always changing with my cooks, sometimes longer sometimes shorter. Sometimes I run the pit hotter sometimes a tad cooler, but one thing never changes, I always trim my ribs!.

  15. mfalto

    mfalto Fire Starter

    You are right one side of the ribs on bbs is thicker.   I usually smoke them in a rib rack with thick side up so they baste during my smoking.  When I rap them in foil ( generally after about 3 to 4 hours of smoking) I  put them meat side down and  lay them flat in my smoker.      Even when I smoke them laying them flat on my smoker rack without a rib rack, I have not had a problem.  It could be because I am cooking them low and slow at around 220 to 230.  Some cook ribs faster at 275 and I would think that could cause the thinner part to char before the  thicker part is cooked.  I always us a water tray on ribs too.  
  16. jwgordon

    jwgordon Newbie

    Thanks so much for sharing this!  I'm doing ribs for Memorial day and I think I'll try your foiling juice recipe for sure.  We definitely like the sweet flavor with ribs, not the vinegar/tanging taste.   Have you ever done the foiling method at 275 degrees?  I read a thread on here where people cooked St Louis Cut at 275 and did a 2-2-1 method.
  17. sgtmonte

    sgtmonte Fire Starter

    ST Louis style ribs are my favorite because there's more meat.

    3-2-1 method at 225-240.  I use butter, honey, and brown sugar when I foil it.
  18. jwgordon

    jwgordon Newbie

    Thanks.  How do you trim the bbb ribs?  Do you just cut off the end that is so thick, or shave off some of the meat to get the thickness more even?
  19. max8950

    max8950 Smoke Blower

    I am having a lot of trouble going back to spare ribs. I did some baby back ribs last summer and they were soooooooooooo good. I could not believe it. I dont like the big pieces of I dont know what on spare ribs, is it fat? It looks like big plastic circles in the meat. There is a good deal on spares this weekend, $1.97 a rack for st louis cut. The deal is too good to pass up. I want to get bbr for $1 more but the cost savings is major. I use 3-2-1 on spares and 2-2-1 on bb. Maybe I need to get better with spares and bb are easier to cook?
  20. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I don't trim Baby Backs

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