Last weekend my wife and I hosted good friends from Louisville, Kentucky, Ted and Cheri. We like to get together two or three times each year to renew friendship, play golf (the girls shop) and of course I grill some steaks. This visit I changed the menu somewhat and grilled some pork. At the table, Ted and Cheri both said “This is the best tasting meat I have ever had!” These words are what every grill master lives to hear. Ted and Cheri always say nice things about my grilled meats, but this time they convinced me that this meat really was great. Curious? Okay, I’ll tell you what it was and how to prepare it.
The cut is called Pork Country Backbone also sometimes labeled Pork Country Style Ribs. I can illustrate this cut by taking us back to my last post where I discussed all the steaks that lay along the backbone of a steer. I said the first Ribeye begins where the last New York Strip ends. Beef loins and pork loins are similar. The last center cut pork chop ends where the first rib-end pork chop begins. At the opposite end of the pork loin, you will find sirloin chops just as you would find sirloin steaks on the rump end of a beef loin.
If we were to look at the first rib-end pork chop, it would look almost exactly like the last center cut pork chop. As we move on toward the neck, the appearance of the chops begin to change much like beef rib steaks change moving the same direction. More fat appears; the more dominate eye of the center cut chop begins to diminish and an eye brow becomes more dominate.
Country Backbone and ribs are merchandised from the last nine inches of the rib-end of the pork loin. The only difference between a rib-end pork chop and a piece of country backbone or country style rid is that the chop is cut in half. One half has the meat attached to the backbone and the other has meat on the rib. All the meat is tender and tasty. You might ask your meat cutter to explain how Country Backbone and Country Style Ribs are processed.
To prepare the meat for grilling, I use both wet marinade and dry rub. The marinade is sprinkled on the meat, not pooled so that the meat sits in a marinade bath. The taste that has won so many compliments comes from a Worcestershire marinade. Sprinkle Worcestershire sauce on each piece of backbone (I’ll use this term to designate both backbone and ribs). Then season to taste with salt and pepper and garlic salt. Let the meat sit for an hour or so and then repeat the application of the Worcestershire sauce and move to the grill. I like to keep the bottle of Worcestershire sauce available to repeat the application while the meat is grilling.
I recommend charcoal and wood for grilling, but realize many don’t have the time and/or desire to mess with that level of commitment. Country Backbone prepared with these seasonings and marinade and grilled on a gas grill, should still bring you many compliments. Grill on a hot grill, turning with tongs (never a fork) and remove as soon as meat moves beyond a pink appearance in the center. You don’t want to serve dry, over-cooked meat to anyone accept those who hold the misconception that meat must be cooked so long it ceases to resemble food. All you can do for them is smile and comply (start their meat ten minutes earlier than the rest and pray for God to enlighten them).
One word of caution. Some retailers (maybe most) also merchandise a “country backbone” that comes from the blade of the shoulder and is more a part of the Boston Butt (like a chuck roast on beef). This meat is fine, but will not be as tender as rib meat from the loin. Look carefully at the label. If you see the word “blade” or “shoulder” on the label, I recommend you leave it alone. If you want to be certain, just ask the market manager a question like, “Is this meat from the shoulder blade or the rib-end of the pork loin?” If you have trustworthy retailers they will tell you the truth.
I hope you enjoy this dish. It goes great with a salad and baked potato. Let me hear how it goes for you.