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Pork Rib Primer

What do you know about ribs? You may know that ribs are a beloved food in Western and Asian cultures. They are cut from the rib cage of pigs into usable pieces and are cooked by grilling, baking and smoking with either a dry rub or a sauce or some combination. One half rack of ribs yields approximately 4 ounces of meat, depending on the size of the rib and the cut. When buying and serving ribs, figure you will need a pound of ribs (bone and meat) per person.

But what do you know about how the raw material is cut for your restaurant or hotel? Let’s talk about how we cut the distinct sections of the rib section into its most delicious parts. Ribs are divided into two main categories: The loin back and spare ribs. We cut each differently and each will look and taste distinct when they are cooked. The loin back come from the top of the rib cage close to backbone of the pig. These ribs tend to be smaller, with more tender meat and will cook quicker than the spare rib. Spare ribs are located at the bottom portion of the rib cage on the side of the pig’s belly. They tend to be meatier, bigger and required longer cooking times.

The loin back ribs can be called baby backs and include a portion of the rib cage along the sternum below the loin and are curved in shape. We trim off the cartilage near the breast bone and sell it as featherbones, trim off the skirt meat on the middle of the rack on the back side and pull off the membrane. The slab will feature a slight size differential between each end. Each rack will contain at least 11 bones. We sell our premium back ribs 1.25 and down, 1.5 and down, 1.75 and down, 2.0 and down, 2.25 and down and 2.25 and up. These ribs also are consistent from slab to slab and are hand cut by our butchers.

We cut our spare ribs into St. Louis-style ribs and brisket bones. This type of rib is larger than the baby back variety. Our butchers make a rectangular rack, trim the flap meat at the end and remove the membrane. We grade them 1.75 and down, 2.0 and down, 2.25 and down, 2.5 and down and 2.5 and up. Each rack will feature visible fat throughout that is evenly spaced for the best eating experience. Our product is consistent from slab to slab. These ribs are meatier than back ribs and require a longer cooking time. Each slab will contain at least 11 bones. Our meaty brisket bones that we cut off the rib cage are sold to restaurants which use them as rib tips. They offer that great rib taste at a competitive price.


For more information about any of our rib products, please contact Ray at rkozlowski@chicagomeat.com or 773-254-3811.

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