Country-style “ribs” on a hog are actually a cut coming from the loin just behind the blade portion of the shoulder, which is referred to as the “butt” (as in a Boston Butt roast). Apparently, whoever named the cuts of meat on a hog wasn’t very inept at basic swine anatomy…but that’s not a topic for this site. Depending on what specific portion of the shoulder-to-loin region they are cut from, they may look like a sliced section of the butt roast (with a blade “7 bone” in them) or they may look like a rib chop that has about half the meat missing. Regardless, they are often an overlooked cut of meat when compared to things like loin chops, baby back ribs, and bacon.
Country-style ribs should be cooked like the other leaner cuts on the hog (such as loin chops or rib chops), but are often less expensive than their “premium” counterparts. So today, we’re going to marinade some country-style ribs in a simple and fast-acting marinade and then cook them over apple-wood smoke on the pellet grill. This marinade also works great for poultry, shrimp, and firmer-textured white-meat fish like sturgeon and halibut.
- 2~3 lbs country-style pork ribs
- zest of 2 oranges
- juice of 3 oranges (including ALL the pulp)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1-1/2″ fresh ginger root, grated
- 1-1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar (not pictured)
Start out getting a helper to zest the oranges on your microplane grater (watch those knuckles though!). While she’s working on that, you can peel and press the garlic and get everything else measured and assembled (including juicing the oranges once they’ve been zested).
In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients and stir well. Place all of the “ribs” into a gallon-sized freezer bag (or you can use a baking dish in which they all just fit across the bottom). Pour the marinade over top, then toss (turn if in a baking dish) to coat well. Press as much air out at possible (cover the baking dish with foil pressed down tightly against the meat), then place in the refrigerator for about 1-1/2 to 3 hours. Turn once half way through so that every part has equal time coated and covered.
Get the grill warmed up to 400 degrees (medium-high heat), while you pull the meat out of the fridge and let it warm closer to room temperature. When the grill is ready, cook the ribs for about 7~10 minutes per side (depending whether you have a direct- or indirect-heating grill) until your thermometer registers just barely under 145 in the center of the cut. Pull them off and let rest under some foil for a few minutes while you serve up the side dishes, then dig in.