There is some meat magic going on here. Spare ribs are, as mentioned by Andy and Uncle Bob, mostly bone, with the well excercised intercostal (rib) muscles joining them together. These muscles are working muscles as they are what cause the chest to expand and contract, thereby causing the lungs to inflate and deflate. They are strong muscles, and have a richer flavor due to greater blood flow, as do all well exercised muscles. They are also fairly tough because of this. Lastly, they have a tough "skin" that encases one side of the ribs. All of this lends itself to braising, or slowly cooking in liquid. This is best done at fairly low temperatures, below the boiling point of water. The meat is ideally brough up to a final temperature of about 190 degrees. This allows the meat protiens to break down and soften., making the meat easier to eat. But cooking in any liquid is going to remove soem of the meat flavor. It's better do slowly roast ribs over a slow fire, basting frequently to keep the meat surface from drying out. Basting with a flavorful mop, or sauce also creates a light crust on the meat that can, if flavored properly, enhance the meat flavor.
Dry rubs can also be used on the ribs, and for the same purpose. And with a dry rub, you don't have to keep messing with the meat (basting).
Country style ribs don't have as strong a flavor as do spare ribs. They are also more meaty. They lend themselves to fast cooking techniques, such as grilling over a solid bed of coals, or pan frying in a lightly oiled pan, or broiling. Country style ribs are difficult to cook with a rub as the rub will quickly burn over higher heat. The exception to this was already mentioned as well. If your put them into a foil pack, and cook slowly, they will remain moist and juicy, and can be flavored with sauces or rubs. Overcooking country style ribs will make them tough and flavorless, as it does with all meats. Boiling meat is a sure way to toughen meat and make it bland. The water extracts the flavors while at the same time, transferring heat much better than air or radiant heat does. The meat becomes too hot (generally above 160'F for most meats, unless braising a tough cut with lots of connecting tissue) and the protiens bind together, squeezing out the moisture and making it tougher than leather.
Spare ribs - low and slow over slow heat, with dry rub or frequent basting is the ticket.
Country style ribs - cook 'em like a steak, preferably to a final temp of no more than 160', or alternately, in a foil pack with seasonings, sauce, or dry rub in a slow oven for a few hours.
And, all pork loves smoke, or I should say, all pork eaters love a good smokiness on their pork.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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