Manufacturer: Swift Premium
So back in September or October of 2013, I ventured into the wonderful world of smoking...BBQ smoking, not cigarette smoking! Those days are long behind me...
Anyway, I started smoking because I inexplicably wanted to go back to grilling with charcoal, after years of using a standard propane gas grill. And after grilling with charcoal for a while, you get tired of just cooking steaks. I wanted to venture out to larger meats...and ribs! Long story short, after making my own mini Weber Smokey Mountain (mini WSM), I bought my first bona fide smoker, the 22.5" Weber Smokey Mountain. What a beast.
When you think ribs, most people don't realize that there are two different types of pork ribs. The first is baby back ribs, or loin back ribs. These ribs are located towards the back of the rib cage. They have plenty of meat on them, but they tend to be leaner and are very easy to dry out during the cooking process. The other type of ribs is the spare rib. These ribs are located more towards the front and bottom of the ribcage. Most spare ribs are cut into "St. Louis style" spare ribs, with this style served in many BBQ joints. Without going much further with the innuendos of pork ribs, I'll just end this portion stating my preference for baby back over spare ribs. Yeah, others say spare ribs have more fat, tastes better, but I just can't get over the bits of cartilage and bone in spare ribs. When I bite into my ribs, I just want meat.
Typically, in my novice few months of smoking, I've purchased my ribs from Smart n' Final. Specifically, I mosey on over to the Farmer John's brand and give it a go. I know Costco's meat quality is usually above average. Their beef is USDA Choice and above. But I have no idea how to select quality pork meat. So far, Farmer John's has done me no wrong. Then I was at Costco the other day and noticed their ribs.
Under the Swift Premium label, Costco sells both baby back ribs and St. Louis style spare ribs. They're a little bit on the pricey end here in Southern California (running over $3.50/lb) but that's just Costco for you. I picked up the baby back cryo-pack and noticed they come 3 racks to a pack. And let me tell you, these are BIG racks. I normally get racks that are ~2.5lbs each. The 3-rack package was over 10 lbs. That's well over 3lbs each. You usually don't want racks to be too big for a number of reasons. For me, smaller racks allow the spices to penetrate better and flavor is more consistent bone-to-bone.
Despite the larger size, these ribs turned out to be quite tasty. The meat itself came out a little darker than what I'm used to with Farmer John's. Not sure why that happened. And as stated above, these larger racks had chunks of meat that didn't allow much of the seasoning to penetrate through.
I can't say that I'll exclusively deal with Costco for my ribs, seeing how local markets tend to have sales every now and then. And with the summer BBQ season right around the corner, I expect many of these local vendors to have specials very soon. So, I don't see myself buying ribs from Costco, unless it's during the off-season and I'm cooking for a group. One thing I will give to Costco though...their ribs come with the membrane already off. That's a bit of a plus in my book.
|Check out the amount of meat on the rack in the back!|