All About Pork Spareribs And How They're Put Together

A Whole Pork Spareribs Slab On Aluminum Foil

When most people hear the word barbecue, they think ribs. Pork spareribs to be exact. A slab of these ribs on the grill or in the smoker can be transformed into some really good eating. But just what are pork spare ribs?

Spareribs are not the meatiest cut from the hog, nor the leanest. But they are extremely flavorful. As the ribs cook, the fat melts, adding flavor and juicyness to the meat. And for some reason, they're just plain fun to eat!

The Whole Pork Spareribs Slab

The whole sparerib slab consists of several different parts. These include the ribs, point, skirt, sternum, membrane (the fell), and the cartilage.

  • The Ribs - The lower half of the hog ribcage is taken off and makes up the sparerib slab. The ribs remaining between the top of the spareribs and the backbone are the back ribs...babyback ribs if not too large.

  • The Point - This is the tail end of the slab, the small end. It's a boneless section that's trimmed off when preparing a Kansas City Style slab. Great for cooking on the side, as it cooks quicker than the ribs, and is great for snackin'.

  • The Skirt - Connected to the bone side of the rib slab is a flap of membrane covered meat. It's what's left of the diaghram. The skirt should be trimmed off for a nicer looking presentation. Remove the membrane, and it makes a great snack, too.

  • The Sternum - This is on the wide end of the slab, opposite the cut ends of the rib bones. It runs about five inches, parallel to the length of the slab.

  • The Fell - The fell is the tough, rubbery lining of the inside of the hog's body cavity. It's attached tightly to the rib side of the slab and should be removed if you want the best tasting and eating ribs around.

  • The Cartilage - This is between the breastbone (the sternum) and the ends of the rib bones. Trimmed off, this section is known as the brisket or rib tips.

Whole pork spareribs are a versatile cut of pork and can be cooked in the barbecue grill or the smoker when the weather cooperates, or inside in the oven when it's raining. The spareribs slab should be trimmed before cooking. That will ensure that it cooks evenly, and looks great at serving time.