The Best Pork Cuts for Barbecue

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Grilling and barbecue are two different things to cooking enthusiasts. Grilling is cooking over direct high heat and barbecuing is cooking over a low heat slowly with smoke. When selecting pork for a barbecue there are certain things to look for like marbling of the meat. The pork cut needs to have some fat on the outside and incorporated into the flesh of the pig. When the fat on the outside melds with the fat on the inside, the meat stays tender, moist and flavorful.

Baby Back Ribs

  • Baby back ribs are a particular cut of pork. This rib has loin muscle and ribs. Loin is the tenderest meat on the pig. Baby back ribs are shorter than spareribs and a slab consists of approximately 13 rib bones. The shortest baby back rib on a slab is 3 inches and the longest 6 inches. The baby back ribs curves and the meat is on the humped side of the rib. Baby back ribs cook faster than spareribs because they weigh less.

Pork Shoulder

  • The pork shoulder runs along the spine down to the elbow on the front leg of the pig and includes a few ribs and the shoulder blade. The pork shoulder slices into pork steaks, country style ribs and roasts. The pork shoulder needs slow cooking to become tender enough for pulled pork. The barbecue technique of smoke roasting and braising is a Southern style of cooking the pork shoulder. The pork shoulder when cut in half produces a pork picnic and a pork butt.

Butt Roast and Brisket

  • The butt roast is a brisket. The pork brisket requires a similar cooking technique to beef brisket -- slow is best. The rib tips and pork brisket are the same thing. The pork butt is the top of the shoulder near the socket and spine of the pig. Pulled pork, which is slow cooked and smoked, comes from pork butt. Pork butt uses include stews and sausages.

St. Louis Cut Ribs

  • St. Louis ribs have no rib tips and are flat and rectangular. A full slab of St. Louis ribs has 11 to 13 bones that are flat and not curved. Many cooks sear the ribs before barbecuing, believing the process seals in flavor and juices of the meat. To cook St. Louis ribs, smoke roast for as long as six hours. The meat of this rib falls off the bone after cooking. This cut of meat is generally expensive per lb., especially when you consider most of the weight is bone.

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