Spare Ribs - Buying and Trimming

When you buy spare ribs they are generally untrimmed with lots of  fat and boneless meat.  To help them cook evenly and for a really nice presentation, the spare ribs should be trimmed before cooking.  Properly trimmed, spare ribs are much meatier and tastier than baby back ribs.  So let's get trimming.
The keys to success: 1) pull the membrane off, 2) trim the meat evenly along the top of the ribs, 3) trim off the underside flap of meat, and 4) trim excess fat.

 I like the "St. Louis Cut" which is a lean, evenly trimmed slab of ribs, easy for cooking and great looking for serving.  Depending on appetites, we figure 3-5 ribs per person, and there are 12-14 ribs per rack. That works out to around 3 servings per rack, or just under 1 pound of trimmed ribs per serving.

The first step is to trim the membrane off the ribs. Turn the slab over and pull the membrane off the underside. You can use the tip of a spoon to get the membrane started off the meat.  Use a paper towel to grab the membrane; otherwise it's too slippery.  Pull it off the full length of the slab.  If it rips just pull the extra pieces also.

After removing the membrane, trim as much fat as you can.  You don't need any of the external fat to flavor the meat while cooking.  There is plenty of fat inside the meat to do this!

After trimming the fat, place the slab on a cutting board and trim off that large piece of boneless meat above the ribs.  Trim it as close to the ribs as you can.  You'll cut through a portion of cartilage.  Don't be concerned; that's not the ribs!

Then trim the large flap of meat on the underside that's near the middle of the ribs. It kind of flaps from the bottom.  Cut it off neatly.

You'll be left with a trimmed, lean even rack of ribs.  And all that extra meat you trimmed off can be cooked and served as "tasters" or "rib tips".  They do make great snacks!  The tasters will take a lot less time to cook than the ribs so be sure to take them off the grill when they're done, between one and two hours.
    Trimmed to "St. Louis Cut" (rib tips on the left)
    These ribs were from Costco.  The package weighed 9.5 lbs and trimmed to 5.5 lbs of ribs, 2.5 lbs of rib tips and 1.5 lbs of waste.  The package cost $1.79 per pound which became $3.10 per pound for the 5.5 lb of trimmed ribs plus 2.5 lbs of rib tips for free!

    I did the same calculation with ribs from Publix.  An 8.25 lb. package trimmed to 4.5 lbs of ribs, 2.5 lbs of rib tips and 1.25 lbs of waste   The package cost $2.99 per pound which became $5.80 per pound for the 4.5 lbs of trimmed ribs plus 2.5 lbs of rib tips for free.

    So govern yourself accordingly when calculating how much to buy and from where.

    We are ready to rub and cook!

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