How To Prepare Spareribs For The Grill or The Smoker

Removing The Fell While I Prepare Spareribs For The SmokerREMOVING MEMBRANE FROM PORK SPARERIBS

Take a little time and prepare spareribs by shaping them into St. Louis or Kansas City style slabs. By trimming the whole sparerib, you'll end up with a slab that cooks great and looks great.







A whole sparerib slab is made up of six main parts.

  • The Ribs
  • The Sternum
  • The Point
  • The Cartilage
  • The Fell
  • The Skirt



How to Prepare Spareribs For The Smoker or Grill

A whole slab has thick section, thin sections, flaps of loose meat, and has an awkward shape for cooking and serving. There are several benefits to trimming a slab before it's barbecued.

A trimmed slab is an even thickness overall, so it cooks evenly. It's easier to handle when cooking and serving. And when looks are important, a trimmed up slab looks great.

Turn It Into a St. Louis Style Slab

This is how to prepare the slab St. Louis style.

  • Remove the breastbone (sternum) by cutting through the cartilage near the rib ends. Continue the cut along that side of the slab to make both sides parallel to each other.

  • Remove the skirt from the bone side of the slab. This is a loose flap of meat that runs diagonally along the slab. While pulling the skirt away from the slab, slice it off right next to the bones.

  • Next, remove the tough membrane, otherwise known as the fell from the bone side of the sparerib slab. Slip a butter knife or screwdriver underneath the fell and pry it upwards. Grab the flap and peel it off. If it tears, repeat the process. Use a paper towel for better grip.


That's how to prepare spareribs St. Louis style. The slab is now rectangular shaped, except for the point. That's the loose, boneless piece of meat at the narrow end. Slicing off the point and squaring up that end changes the St Louis slab into a Kansas City style slab.

Now evenly shaped and a little smaller, the trimmed pork rib slab will fit better in the grill or smoker, and is much easier to cut into serving sized pieces.

Oh, and about all those pieces that were trimmed off. Season 'em up and cook them right along with your ribs. They'll be done sooner than the ribs and are great for snacking.

Do Minimal Trimming When Cooking The Whole Slab

If you decide to smoke the sparerib slab without adjusting its shape, there are still a few things that should be trimmed off. Deposits of fat and loose flaps of skin should be cut away first.

On the bone side, which would be the interior of the hog, you'll see a strip of tissue running lengthwise, attached to the bone. This is referred to as the flap. It's actually part of diaphragm, and should be trimmed off.

There's a translucent membrane covering the rib bones that also needs to be removed. If left on, seasoning flavors won't reach the meat on that side. It can also become rather chewy when cooked.

Finally, trim off any thin pieces of meat from the edges of the slab. The thin meat will dry out and overcook. Pay special attention to the point-end.