How to Trim Spareribs into a St. Louis Cut for Barbecue

Learn how to trim spareribs into a St. Louis cut from Pork Barrel BBQ pitmasters Heath Hall and Brett Thompson in this Howcast video.


Today I'm going to show you how to trim a spare rib into a St. Louis style cut. This is probably the cut that you're most familiar with when you go to restaurants and get a rib.

You simply take a spare rib, which is this here. Not confuse with the baby back rib but a spare rib. What we want to do first is we want to take our knife, we want a very sharp knife. We want to take this fat flap here, it's got a little skin, a little meat, a little fat on it and we want to trim it. So just trim it down and we want to have a little waste bucket there for us.

We want to square it up. A traditional St. Louis style cut has 13 bones, so we're going to count. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, 12 and 13. So we're going to come and just find that 13th bone, square that side up. So we have a fairly square slab of ribs.

Now, we want to come up over here and kind of feel where the bone ends and the cartilage begins which is going to allow us to get a nice square slab of St. Louis ribs. Like I said, you want a really sharp knife here because you're going to be cutting through some cartilage and quite a bit of fat and meat. Now, these are what is known as the rib tips. You certainly don't need to throw these in the trash. You can just season these up and throw these on the grill, makes a nice little snack. You can also make some stock out of it. So I would just encourage you to keep that.

So what we've got here is a nice straight rectangle slab and we're going to come over here, any loose skin, loose fat that we see we can trim that up, don't have to get it all but we want to be able to have a nice surface for the spices to penetrate.

Now, the most important step that all people forget to flip it over and remove what's called the membrane. The membrane, if you leave it on it is going to be kind of tough and it's also not going to allow smoke and spice to penetrate into the meat when you're cooking. So get simply just a knife out of your standard dinner sets of knives and spoons and you want to come in here a couple of bones in and sometimes this can be easy and sometimes it can be challenging. So you want to lift up, get a nice bit of this membrane up. And then what I like to do is take a paper towel, grab the membrane. And again, sometimes it comes off in one nice big easy motion and other times it comes off in pieces. So this time we got pretty lucky and got most of it there in the first motion. I see a little extra fat here on the back here after I've taken the membrane off that I want to get off. And we've got a little bit of membrane hanging right here.

But, there we go. That's a St. Louis cut spare rib. It's ready to be seasoned up and thrown on the grill and a few hours later you'll have yourself a nice meal. So I encourage you to, you know, to try this at your home and see what you think. Spare ribs have a lot of flavor in them, a lot of fat and really produce a nice product off the smoker.

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