Ribs are popular for grilling and smoking! They are juicy, delicious, and tender, especially when you cook them the right way. Best of all, cooking them does not require an extensive experience. Even as a beginner, you can prepare a feast for your family and friends. More than the right techniques, you will also need the right meat. Two of the most popular options are St. Louis and baby back ribs.
Curious about the right meat to choose? If you are clueless, read our quick comparison of St. Louis ribs vs baby back ribs and we’ll help you come up with the right choice.
Comparing St. Louis Ribs vs Baby Back Ribs
Wondering about the best pork cut to buy for your next barbecue? Read on and find out the key differences between St. Louis ribs and baby back ribs so you can decide what to get.
As the name implies, they are both from the ribs. However, they are from slightly different parts of the ribs. St. Louis is from the right of the belly at the bottom of the rib cage. It is also from the same part where you will find the spareribs. Technically, St. Louis is trimmed spareribs without too much cartilage and breastbone.
Meanwhile, baby back ribs are also called high on the hog, which is in reference to its location. It is from the topmost part of the ribs, on the section that links it to the spine. After the removal of the loin, the baby back ribs are cut. With this, it is also often known as loin ribs.
Size and Appearance
One of the easiest ways to differentiate the two is by looking at its size and appearance. Depending in the butcher, baby back ribs will have 10 to 13 ribs. If it has less than 10 ribs, then it is called a cheater rack. The slab is wider on one side. The length of the longer bones is six inches while the shorter ones are up to three inches. The bones are also curved.
While the St. Louis ribs is also from almost the same part, it is slightly flatter compared to spareribs. They are also more appealing. It has 11 to 13 bones, with the length ranging from five to six inches. It is also straight and wide, unlike the baby back ribs that are curved. A typical cut will weigh two to three pounds, which is the same with baby back ribs.
The flavor of pork ribs will be more dependent on the ingredients you will be cooking them along with instead of the actual cut of the meat. However, between the two, St. Louis ribs fare better in terms of the overall taste. It has more fat, which creates a more robust flavor. It is sweet and savory, so you can keep the sauce to a minimum. The marbling in this kind of meat is one of the reasons why it is preferred. Meanwhile, the edge of baby back ribs is that they are more tender.
If you are buying ribs, you might be concerned about how much they cost. The prices can vary depending on the butcher or your location. However, baby back ribs is often more expensive than St. Louis ribs and has a higher demand. It is lean, tender, and small. They also have lesser muscles and are more tender, which influence the higher price.
Preparation and Cooking
The preparation and cooking for both ribs can vary, depending on what the recipe requires. One of the most common is in a smoker. The latter adds a strong smokey flavor to enhance the taste of the meat. At the same time, the slow and low cooking process will make the meat tender, so that it is easy to chew. If you do not have a smoker, it is also possible to cook it in an oven.
Because baby back ribs is naturally more tender, you can cook it at a shorter time in a high temperature. With St. Louis, on the other hand, you will need to be more patient. It takes longer to cook and best when you do so at low heat. This will make it easier to achieve fall-off-the-bone goodness.
Meanwhile, when it comes to the seasoning, there isn’t much difference between the two. Dry rubs are popular. Many would like to keep it simple with only salt and pepper. You can use different herbs and spices depending on what you prefer.
#Video: Baby Back Ribs vs St. Louis Style Spare Ribs on the Weber Kettle
Tips and Tricks When Cooking St. Louis and Baby Back Ribs
Whether you would go for St. Louis or baby back, below are some of the most important tips when cooking ribs. Impress your family and friends even without being a pro!
Choose the Right Ribs
It all starts with your rib selection. Fresh is best. Buy only from your trusted butcher. If possible, avoid one that has been frozen. Look at the color of the meat, which should be reddish-pink. It should not be pale or dark. Pay attention as well to the meat coverage over the bone for the best bang for the buck.
Get Rid of the Silver Skin
You will find the silver skin under the meat. Remove it before cooking the ribs. You can also ask the butcher to do it for you when buying the meat fresh. This is a membrane that covers the abdominal organs. If you do not remove this part, the meat will most likely be tough.
Marinate the Ribs
It is best if you take the time to marinate the ribs. This will provide enough time for the flavors to infuse on the meat. Do this at least overnight. As a result, your ribs will become tastier, which will depend on the herbs, spices, and other ingredients that you use.
Remove Excess Moisture
Before cooking the ribs, take the time to pat them dry with paper towels. This will effectively absorb excess moisture from the meat. It will also prevent the meat from browning, making it more visually appealing after cooking.
Test for Doneness
Before cooking the ribs, you should know the degree of doneness that you prefer. Use an internal meat probe to check the temperature, which will determine if you are done cooking. After testing for doneness and once meat is cooked, make sure to let it rest before serving.