Pork Ribs Part 1: How to trim ribs for Saint Louis cut.

One of the more popular cuts of pork ribs for the outdoor BBQ/Grill is known as the St.Louis cut.  Trimming your full rack of ribs down to a St. Louis cut allows you to fit more racks of ribs on the grill.   By cutting away the knuckles, little bones and other parts you only have to deal with the best part of the rib.  A St. Louis trim is also a great cut when cooking your ribs indoors.  Whether in the oven or in the slow cooker you’ll have a much better cooking experience with trimmed ribs.

You can purchase St. Louis cut ribs in the grocery store, but just like anything else, the extra labor involved means paying a premium for your ribs.  With a little practice you’ll be able to trim ribs as nice as your meat cutter.  Just follow these simple instructions…

Start with a couple full racks of pork ribs.  In this case, two racks still the cryovac from the store.

Start with a couple full racks of pork ribs. In this case, two racks still the cryovac from the store. Make sure you've got a sharp knife!

Remove the ribs from the packaging and place one on your cutting board.  I normally like to rinse them off and pat them dry before getting started.

Remove the ribs from the packaging and place one on your cutting board. I normally like to rinse them off and pat them dry before getting started.

Turn the rib rack over and grab the flap of meat.  Note:  For those of us cooking ribs outdoors this flap of meat is normally considered the "cook's snack."

Turn the rib rack over and grab the flap of meat. Note: For those of us cooking ribs outdoors this flap of meat is normally considered the "cook's snack."

Holding your knife parallel to the cutting board slice off the flap as close to the bones as possible. Make sure you save the flap and all your trimmings!

Holding your knife parallel to the cutting board slice off the flap as close to the bones as possible. Make sure you save the flap and all your trimmings!

And this is how they should look with the flap removed.

And this is how they should look with the flap removed.

Now carefully slide a butter knife between the bone and the membrane.  Removing the membrane is an important part of getting perfectly cooked ribs.  The membrane will shrink causing your ribs to curl, it's tough and it keeps the seasoning from getting to the meat.

Now carefully slide a butter knife between the bone and the membrane. Removing the membrane is an important part of getting perfectly cooked ribs. The membrane will shrink causing your ribs to curl, it's tough and it keeps the seasoning from getting to the meat.

Lift the back of the knife to separate the membrane from the bone.  Don't get discouraged if it doesn't come up easily.  After a couple rib racks of practive you'll get the hang of it.

Lift the back of the knife to separate the membrane from the bone. Don't get discouraged if it doesn't come up easily. After a couple rib racks of practive you'll get the hang of it.

Once you have it separated, grab the membrane with a papertowel and peel the membrane off.  Again, with practice you'll be able to do this in one piece.

Once you have it separated, grab the membrane with a papertowel and peel the membrane off. Again, with practice you'll be able to do this in one piece.

Using your finger locate the longest rib bone in the rack.  Insert your knife right at the top of the bone.

Using your finger locate the longest rib bone in the rack. Insert your knife right at the top of the bone.

Cut straight down the rack of rib removing the "rib tips" from the rack.

Cut straight down the rack of rib removing the "rib tips" from the rack.

One perfectly cut St. Louis trimmed rack of ribs.

One perfectly cut St. Louis trimmed rack of ribs.

From two racks of ribs you should have something that looks similar to this.

From two racks of ribs you should have something that looks similar to this.

Next up?  What to with the racks of ribs and the trimmings!

Pictures are courtesy of Mr. Bob of The Hog Blog.

4 thoughts on “Pork Ribs Part 1: How to trim ribs for Saint Louis cut.

  1. I don’t usually trim my ribs, outside of peeling the membrane off. I’ll usually buy my St. Louise cuts. However using the excuse of the cooks snack or portion will inspire me to trim my ribs from now on. My question is, when trimming at the longest bone, is there a seam or joint where the knife will go through easily or am I gonna have to hug that thing to muscle the knife through the bone?

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