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Video: Preparing Pork Loin Back Ribs
This video demonstrates the steps described in this article. Click on the video to play.
Here are some pictures I took on July 25, 1999 when I prepped three slabs of loin back ribs for use in the Best Ribs in the Universe recipe.
Click on any of the pictures to view a larger image.
I purchased three whole slabs of loin back ribs packaged in Cryovac from a wholesale warehouse store. The combined weight of all three slabs was a little under 7 pounds.
Loin back ribs don't have the complicated anatomy of spareribs. There's no sternum, cartilage, or attached meat...just rib bones with meat over and between them.
The reasons for removing the membrane on loin back ribs are better eating and better smoke and seasoning penetration of the meat.
Start at the small end of the slab and use a butter knife or similar tool to pry-up part of the membrane. It seems to be easier to get this started on the short bones rather than on the long bones. Grasp the membrane with a paper towel and pull it off toward the wide end of the slab, as shown in Photo 3.
If you're careful and lucky, you'll get the membrane off in a single piece. The membrane on loin back ribs may shred when pulled off, so you may have to pry up a few remaining bits and pull them off.
Don't be fooled by what you see beneath the membrane you've just removed. There appears to be another layer of membrane and some folks are tempted to try to remove it. You can't and you shouldn't...that material is what holds the meat and bones together. Just leave it alone.
Also, don't be surprised to open up a Cryovaced package of loin back ribs and find that the membranes have already been removed. This is quite common with ribs purchased at wholesale warehouse stores. If you're having a hard time prying up the membrane, it may not be there!
If you purchase ribs from a full-service meat department or butcher shop, ask them to remove the membranes for you.
Now turn your attention to the ends of each slab. You may find some scrappy meat or blood vessels hanging off each end. Just trim off this material to make the ends more presentable.
With the membrane removed and the ends cleaned up, scrape away any large deposits of fat hiding between the bones, as shown in Photo 4. Next, flip the slab over and trim off any large areas of fat on the meat side of the slab.
The point here is to just remove the large areas of fat. Don't worry about smaller areas of fat. Most of that will render during the cooking process.
Here's the finished product—three trimmed slabs of loin back ribs ready for the application of rub, then into the smoker.
If you click on this picture to view the larger version, you'll see one of the membranes stretched out in the foreground. Try sticking your finger through this material and you'll see why it's such a good idea to remove the membrane from ribs before you barbecue them!
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