Why Country-Style Pork Ribs Aren't Actually Ribs

Backyard BBQs are full of drinks, fun, and more importantly, food. Plates are often piled high with potatoes, greens, bread, and tender BBQ meats like pan-seared pork chops, steaks, kebabs, and ribs. And speaking of ribs, you might be familiar with the "country-style" variation, which has an intense meaty flavor and loads of fat that melt in your mouth like butter, per Food Fire Friends.

These are also easy to cook since they can be either braised whole or seared after being sliced into chunks, as noted by TheKitchn. Some country-style pork recipes also suggest roasting them and heightening the flavors with a fresh and herbaceous sauce, such as jalapeƱo or cilantro pesto.

But the thing is, country-style pork ribs are a bit of fraud among the rest of the meats. They're often boneless and have nothing to do with the rib cage of a pig, per Butcher Box. In fact, they're not even real ribs at all. Here's why.

They're from a pig's shoulder area

If you've ever looked at a package of these so-called "ribs," you might have noticed the contrasting color tones. Some parts are light, which is the loin meat, and other parts are darker, which is from the shoulder, via Cook's Illustrated. They go on to state that this is because country-style pork ribs are sliced from an area that is in between the shoulder and the loin of a pig. Butcher Box explains that you'll occasionally find a bone in such ribs, and it could be the shoulder blade itself or the scapula.

But if these BBQ ribs aren't "real ribs", why are they named as such? Butcher Box has a theory, as they state that country-style pork ribs have almost the same flavors and textures as other types of ribs. Fine Cooking also states that these are great for BBQs since they are rich in fat, meat, and connective tissues.

So next time you see a package of country-style pork ribs, remember that these are chops, not ribs, per Smoked BBQ Source. But don't let that deter you from braising or roasting these for your next meal since they taste just like "real ribs" after all.