St. Louis Style BBQ is kind of like the middle child of rib styles and gets lost between its more famous big brother Kansas City barbeque and its adorable little brother Memphis barbeque. Adding to the confusion is that St. Louis ribs don’t just describe a style of BBQ but a cut of ribs as well.
So first understand the rib cuts. You have Baby Back Ribs and St. Louis Style Ribs. Baby Back Ribs are from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs just below the loin muscle. St. Louis style ribs are cut from spare ribs and then the cartilage, sternum bone and rip tips are removed leaving an almost rectangular shape of ribs.
In St. Louis the barbeque is either going to be the St. Louis cut of ribs or more likely a barbecued pork steak. Pork steak is most often cut from the shoulder part of the hog and this is a fatty cut of meat unless trimmed. The "steaks" are sliced 1" thick and are rimmed with fat.
The signature of a classic St. Louis barbeque is the sauce. St. Louis barbeque sauce is thinner with a bit more tang than the better known Kansas City BBQ Sauce.
Slow cooking over low heat is the key to creating a culinary barbecue masterpiece whether you’re going for ribs or pork steak. For ribs liberally use a St. Louis style barbecue sauce and return the re-sauced ribs to the grill repeatedly for caramelizing. For St. Louis style pork steaks these should be slow grilled until done and then brushed with or dipped in St. Louis bbq sauce and returned to the grill for caramelizing, turning frequently.
So now you have a good idea on what makes up the different nuances of St. Louis style bbq except for one last critical step and that is at the very beginning -- the seasoning or rub. You need a good rub to balance the sauce and this one has some sweetness with a touch of sassy-attitude that best reflects what you’d find in a local St. Louis neighborhood.
The key to this rub is brown sugar which provides the sweetness while the celery salt rounds out the flavor profile, you’ll also find a delicious hickory undertone. This rub was a family secret given to us by a St. Louis native when we made some special blends for him.
Hand blended from brown sugar, domestic paprika, celery salt, garlic salt, hickory salt, onion powder, ancho chiles, red pepper flakes, fennel seed, black pepper and vinegar powder.
You may also be interested in our other BBQ Rib Rubs - Memphis Style Dry Rib Rub, Kansas City Rib Rub, All American Dry Rub, Deep South Rub, Little Rock BBQ Rub, North Carolina Style and Pork Stank.
And if you're fairly new to the whole barbecue scene and want to learn more then check out these helpful articles - A Slow Cooked Guide to Cooking Ribs, How to Choose Your Smoking Wood, The 12 Secrets of Cooking Smoked Ribs and if you don't have a smoker you can still get a decent smoked pork using your grill.
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