Butchering Pork Spare Ribs.

Anyone else like to buy the whole slab of pork spare ribs and butcher/trim them?

I buy the slabs of untrimmed pork spare ribs, they are cheap and when you trim of the pork belly and skirt you have awesome taco meat to throw in a ziplock to marinate and grill later in the week or to freeze.

When you are done trimming, half the meat is a nice, neat trimmed rack of pork ribs and the other half is another couple of dinners during the week. I am pretty sure the lower meat is pork belly, you cut that off and slice it and grill for the best taco meat you’ve ever had.

Also butchering the untrimmed slab, you end up with nice pork fat. I like to lay the fat on top of grilling veggies so it melts and trickles over them. If you try that, make sure to sear the vegies a little after taking the pork fat off, (if fat is still partially uncooked.)

Remember on both pork and beef ribs to remove the membrane skin on the bone side. (Fell.) Use a dull knife to start it, then grab with a paper towel and pull it off.

I rarely buy my spares ribs from the butcher trimmed. I’m not sure what you are referring to as the “pork belly”, but I think it may be what I’ve been told told was the “brisket” by some serious Q’ers. Whatever it’s officially called, it’s good stuff along with the tips and skirt meat.

One note on the membrane: I think anyone that has ever made spare ribs (or back ribs for that matter) understands that you should really pull the membrane before you cook them, but there are actually two membranes. Many people are told (as was I) to jam a butter knife under the membrane at one of the bones to get it started, but that will usually result in you pulling off the lower membrane, which is what will help keep the bones from completely falling out when they are cooked properly. The membrane that you want to remove is the thin top layer, and if you poke around on the back of the ribs you will find a spot where they separate and you get a grip on it.

Sorry, but I can’t agree about the membrane. I did this the first couple of years I cooked ribs. I just don’t bother any more. I smoke the ribs then finish them on the grill with my home made sauce and the membrane is pretty much gone after that. There may be a little stuck to the bones but there’s no meat under it.


To each their own…I think this is one of those “it’s recommended but you don’t have to do it” techniques. I remove mine because I think that the rub and/or marinade get better penetration on the ribs without the membrane, and I think it makes them a bit easier to eat.

Heck, I know people that don’t trim the ribs at all, they just throw the entire slab on. Whatever works for you!

I trim them myself…and membrane removal is a must.

membrane off.

I just have one question for those that remove the membrane, since you’ve gotten good at smoking ribs (no longer a newbie at Q) , have you tried it without removing the membrane? Most of what is under the membrane is just the back of the rib bones. It does cover the meat between the bones on the back side but I just don’t see getting the rub on that is a big deal because it’s such a small % of the surface area.

I’ll be doing another Q-fest in August, maybe I’ll do half and half and see if anyone notices a difference.

Andy, I have never not removed the mambrane for either back or spare ribs. Habit I guess. My belief is that it allows for better rub adhesion as well as smoke penetration. I also don’t want the “chewiness” or whater you want to call it by leaving it on.

I guess the same thing goes when I get a whole beef tenderloin…I remove every speck of silverskin and external fat.

I try to do the same as you for tenderloin because I’m cooking it hot and fast - some say I hardly cook it at all - but for low and slow, I just trim any excess fat and let the cooking take care of the rest.

It’s not really difficult to get rid of the membrane on ribs, I just forgot to do it and the ribs came out great so I stopped bothering.


What Bill said. I just started doing so and will never go back. Pulling that membrane out from between the teeth is a memory, not to mention…it’s Bill. Our on-site meat professional.