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Mar 24, 2018
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Barbecue: Know your cuts of pork
By Ligaya Figueras | Photo by Carmen Troesser
Posted On: 06/21/2011   

You can debate wet versus dry and apple wood versus hickory till the cows come home, but you can’t have barbecue without the meat. Callie, Boston butt, St. Louis-cut ribs – all those different cuts can befuddle the best of us. Here’s a bit of pork nomenclature to help you navigate the butcher shop.

Baby back ribs: The most tender and the leanest cut of ribs is that nestled beneath the loin muscle near the animal’s back. Baby backs have a greater meat-to-bone ratio than St. Louis-cut ribs and the curvature of the bone is more pronounced.

Spareribs: Spareribs are cut from the end of baby back ribs, further down the side of the hog. While there is typically more bone than meat in a slab of spareribs, the bones and connective tissue make that meat awfully flavorful.

St. Louis-cut ribs: A flat rectangular slab, also known as a barbecue cut, is achieved by removing the rib tip section from a slab of spareribs.

Rib tips: Strips containing cartilage and soft bone that are cut from the lower end of spareribs when cutting a slab of St. Louis-style ribs.

Butt: Boston butt, pork butt, shoulder butt, shoulder roast, country roast – call it what you will, this cut, from the top of the shoulder socket to the spine, is a weave of muscles, fat, sinew, connective tissue and bone. It falls apart easily when cooked, making it the most popular cut for pulled pork.

Picnic or callie: The upper part of the foreleg, from the shoulder socket to the elbow. The picnic is a good choice for making pulled pork thanks to its fattiness. That extra fat provides flavor and juiciness without drying out the meat during low-and-slow cooking.

Snout: That fat-filled hog meat from the nose and cheek area makes for some crispy, greasy, downright delicious snoots.

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