One of my suppliers recently sent me a whole entire box of ribs to try out. Such a burden for us. Gawd, we could barely stand it. I’ve been down just about every road lined with ribs there is, so these were nothing new, exactly, but I told him I’d write him up a good product review, so here goes. By “good,” I mean thorough, not necessarily positive. Expect some snark, here. This post is mainly directed at my fellow restaurant-owners, and probably my cousins who like to use their Treagar grills and Big Green Eggs.
Some background, first. I used to have baby-back ribs on my menu full-time, but as the popularity of home-smoking has grown, the price of easy-to-use cuts like baby-backs has gone up. Baby-backs cook quickly and evenly and yield a consistently good end product as long as they aren’t over-cooked. Currently we use St. Louis style ribs, which are larger than baby-backs, but a good bit less expensive. We run them as a special every few weeks, or we’ll do them as a special order or catering item. The St. Louis ribs take a little longer and a little more finesse to cook, but my customers like them since they feel like they’re getting more bang for their buck.
The ribs I got from Pat (my overly-nice food rep) are country-style ribs, meaning they aren’t trimmed, the “knuckle-bone” thingies are still on the bottom. You’ll notice that baby-back ribs have round bones, and as you work your way up to the larger country-style, the end bones are flat. Almost always, the meat is thicker on top of country ribs but there is less meat in-between the individual bones, as was the case with these.
From Performance Foods, these ribs come packed 3 racks in a cryovac, 3 packages to a case, so 9 racks in the box. If you’re a small-volume joint like we are, this is not the absolute best, since you’ll have to do at least 3 racks at a time. Actually though, I would only do fewer than that if I were doing a special order, so maybe it doesn’t matter so much. I’m always down for easier opening, and this is definitely easier than individually wrapped crap.
I coated these with my standard pork dry-rub, and not to bog us down in details (I’m assuming that if you care enough to actually read this you know how to smoke ribs already), smoked them with the silver skin on and peeled it as soon as I took them out. Count on a longer smoking time than baby-back or St. Louis Style ribs.
From that ^^^
I like these! They’re very impressive to plate, especially if you’re located in the dirty dirty south like we are. People want to order a whole rack of ribs with a couple of sides. I plated these on rectangular trays with parchment paper underneath with the sides just set on there with them. In reality, You would be ahead to slice them into individual ribs after they’re cold and serve about 4 to an order. That does get tricky with the bottom section, which you can see at the last photo in this series.
Depending on whether you’re serving these straight out of the smoker or reheating them, you could do them a couple of different ways. We did find that some people didn’t realize they should most definitely eat the meat from that little bottom cut. We found this to be the most delectable little bites on these bad boys.
So, overall, we liked these, especially for the price. I mean, actually we got these for the price of free this time, so you can’t beat it. Everyone who ordered them ate them down to dry bones, but stopped short of cracking said bones and sucking the marrow out. Cause, dang, we’re in public here. We might be hillbillies, but we do have some manners.
So, in short, save yourself a little food cost if you’re in an area where you’re going to have to explain to people the difference in types of ribs. They don’t care. They’ll be happy to get more meat for their money. If the people who make up your customer base consider themselves foodies, spring for the more expensive baby-backs. These won’t fool them. On the other hand, if you’re a great sales-person, you can convince them that they want these more than the baby-backs. Make that money, y’all.