Country Style Spareribs were developed in the late 60's and early 70's by an enterprising butcher, meat cutter and teacher named Cliff Bowes from the Chicago area. For years grocery and meat markets had a hard time merchandising the Rib End of a pork loin....the chops looked terribly fatty and boney......and this cut would usually end up as an Rib End roast, the bottom chops in a package of "Quarter Sliced Pork Loin", or boned out and ground up for sausage. Cliff split the bones about an inch from the back bone and then split the meat into a tri-fold and scoring between the bones. Voilà, Country Style Ribs were born! It was a pretty impressive piece of meat in the display case. A few years later on, myself and other meat cutters, just split the rib end in two and cut into little 'chops' approx 1 1/4" thick and displayed ‘meat’ side up. Now you couldn't keep them in the meat case at all and they became a rarity, except to a select few that would beg you to save "all you can get". The problem of having too many rib ends of pork was no longer a problem.
In the mid to late 80's, to keep up with the demand for "Country Style Ribs", pork shoulder butts (Boston Butt) were split in two underneath the blade bone and cut into strips on the saw, some boneless, some bone in. These so called ‘ribs’ cut from the shoulder are 99% of the Country Style Ribs that you see today in the supermarkets and your large chain box stores (Sam’s, Costco, etc). They are by no means 'ribs', but a tasty cut for the grill. I brine mine and cook approx 275° indirect for 2 1/2-3 hours and they come out perfect every time.
Some select stores will also merchandise other cuts of pork as Country Style Ribs. The Sirloin End of the pork loin, for instance. I’ve even seen some Center Cut boneless loins cut into ‘ribs’. Pork “Cushion Meat” (the meaty muscle from the shoulder Picnic) can be cut into strips for a tasty treat on the grill. Keep this in mind when cooking any of these other cuts…if the meat is fatty; cook it slow over a low heat. If the meat is lean; it is best cooked as a chop, hot and quick.
Lately, I have seen Beef Country Style Ribs in some of the area supermarkets. They are basically nothing more than a Chuck Roll, or a Shoulder Clod, that has been butter flied and cut into boneless strips of meat. Keep in mind that these will benefit from marinating and a slow cook on your grill or smoker.
Here is a picture of the two styles of Pork Country Style Ribs. The shoulder (butt) on the left and from the Rib End of the loin on the right.