When you talk about ribs, you are talking about a very wide variety of rib types including those from pork, beef, and lamb. There are also the exotic varieties such as buffalo, elk, wild boar, and venison.
My favorite has always been the pork spare ribs which I will cover in detail below. Regardless of personal preference they can all be smoked with your favorite woods and will work quite well with almost any rib recipe.
The term spareribs is always referring to pork ribs and never refers to beef, lamb or any other rib types. Spareribs come from the side or belly of the pig and are often sold with the brisket bone attached which you can cut off or ask the butcher to do it for you. I usually do this task myself. The brisket bone can be frozen and later used in soups, beans, stews, etc.
There is a thin flap of meat which runs along the length of the ribs on the meaty side called the skirt. I prefer to cut this strip of meat off and smoke it alongside the spareribs. It will get done within an hour or two and is good tasters for the kids or the neighbors salivating across the fence.
With this skirt cut off the ribs are known as "St. Louis style ribs" while leaving it on makes them "Kansas City style ribs."
Based on experience and what I have read, serving portions of spareribs as appetizers are two ribs per person…as a main entree it would be half a slab or six ribs.
Pork Baby Back Ribs
One of the most liked rib types are the famous "baby backs." These ribs are less meaty but tend to have less fat and many rib connoisseurs claim they taste better.
I find great pleasure in all rib types if they are adequately prepared and not drowned in barbecue sauce (properly smoked ribs will never need barbecue sauce…a good dry rub just before smoking will be more than sufficient).
The pork baby back ribs come from …you guessed it… the back of the pig and depending on where you buy the meat can have a fair amount of loin meat attached and could weigh as much as two pounds or more.
Serving portions on baby backs are 2 ribs per person as an appetizer or half a slab as an entree.