Need help with how to prep ribs, how to smoke ribs, or which ones to buy? Look no further! Our inhouse butchers at Fareway Meat Market break down everything you need to know about one of the best cuts of pork. In celebration of our Ribs for Kids event we are giving you the inside scoop on the best ways to pick and prep your ribs the way the professionals do.
Pork ribs are one of people’s favorite meats to barbecue; come on, who doesn’t love ‘em? There’s just something about picking up a rib with your fingers and chewing all that meaty, smokey deliciousness.
Where the ribs are located on the pig
Let’s start with baby back ribs. They are cut from where the rib meets the spine, at the top of the pigs back. They are lean, tender, and the most popular. There are thirteen ribs on a rack, they have curved bones and are shorter on one end, due to the natural tapering of a pig’s rib cage. Contrary to what you might think, baby back ribs are not from a baby pig. They are called that because they are smaller in size compared to the larger spare ribs.
Next are the spare ribs. They are the same thirteen ribs, just located lower on the pig, by the belly. Spare ribs are meatier, the bones are larger and flatter. They do contain more fat but remember, fat equals flavor! Spares will take a little more cooking time to make them tender.
A full rack of ribs are cut in half, to show the smaller baby back ribs on the top and the larger spare ribs on the bottom.
Making the best ribs ever starts with knowing what to look for when buying them. When searching for ribs at Fareway’s Meat Market our expert butchers can help you find the best and unique cuts of meat, making sure the ribs have an even layer of meat across the rack. You don’t want to buy a slab that has a large amount of meat on one end and little to no meat on the other.
How many slabs of ribs do I need?
Don’t be afraid to ask one of our professionals, we are always happy to help with meat purchases. People often ask, “How many slabs do I need for my barbecue?” We suggest one slab of baby backs to feed two adults. When it comes to spare ribs, figure one slab for three people.
How to trim ribs
First, make sure your workstation and cutting board are large enough to handle the amount of ribs you are cooking. Open up your package of ribs, pat them dry with a paper towel, and lay them out on the cutting board with the meat side up. Closely look at your ribs; trim off any dangling meat or excessive fat.
Next, turn the ribs over to remove the membrane covering the rib bones. To remove the membrane, simply insert a kitchen butter knife on top of a rib bone on the small end of the rack of ribs; gently push the knife upwards to loosen the membrane. Grab the membrane with a paper towel and slowly pull it toward the opposite end of the rack. If it tears, just repeat the process until it is all removed.
Now it’s time to apply your favorite dry rub. If you want classic barbecue ribs, use a rub heavy on brown sugar, paprika, salt, and pepper. Our professionals can provide excellent recommendations for rubs to buy in store and pair great with different barbecue sauces.
With the rack laying on the meat side, simply sprinkle the rub on to the entire rack making sure you don’t miss any areas, even the sides of the ribs. Flip the meat over and do the same on the other side. It’s best to season ribs an hour before they go on the smoker.
How to cook ribs
If a rack of ribs is improperly cooked, it can be tough and dry. The best way to cook pork ribs is the well known 3-2-1 method. This is the fool proof method for fall-off-the-bone tenderness, especially with spare ribs. Once your barbecue pit is up to the proper temperature, (225 degrees) place the seasoned racks on the smoker, bone side down, for 3 hours. After 3 hours, the ribs will look golden brown and will have absorbed all the smoke flavor they need.
Next, lay down a double sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and place each slab separately in the foil, meat side down. Just before sealing them up tightly, pour a little apple juice in to help steam the meat to become tender. Place the sealed ribs back on the smoker for another 2 hours.
Now we are almost there! Remove the ribs from the foil and place them back on the smoker, meat side up, and hit them with your favorite barbecue sauce or glaze for 1 more hour. Some folks even like hitting the ribs on a gas grill for a few minutes to char things up. If you need to rotate things on your smoker, you can throw wrapped ribs on a baking sheet and place it in a preheated oven at 200°. This method will almost guarantee you the best ribs ever!
The quality of meat from the Fareway meat market and McGonigle’s BBQ, is something that has always made our market stand out from the rest whether you want to season and prep your ribs the way you want to or purchase our ready made ribs our professionals are here to help decide what is best for you. Our business is rich with local history. It’s a prime example of how the marriage of meat, hard work and know-how made our town famous for barbecue. Granted, the meat market and barbecue tradition was already more than four decades old when our store opened the Ward Parkway market in 1951, continuing the meat market legacy going back to 1882.
More than five decades after the Ward Parkway market opened, our founder decided to smoke and sell barbecue to go or to enjoy at picnic tables on the grassy tree-shaded lawn next door. McGonigle’s got up to speed quickly and quickly became a local staple.
McGonigle’s BBQ has friendly, efficient, knowledgeable staff, fantastic selection of top quality meats and food truck barbecue fresh from the pit makes it easy to see why 79th and Ward Parkway is one of the most popular barbecue destinations in the Greater Kansas City area.