Carolina BBQ [split from LA]
[Note: this thread was split from the LA board at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6537... -- The Chowhound Team]
"Falling off the bone" means tender and perfect, properly mopped, not a dried-out lump of charcoal subjected to a dry rub of dirt.
For detail of the East vs. West Carolina aspects, and what parts of the hog, see:
The two styles have interbred to a degree elsewhere, and I stand by my love for slow-cooked ribs with a vinegary sauce.
In truth most of my knowledge of Carolina BBQ has come from reading "Holy Smoke' by my friends John & Dale Reed - I usually cook more Kansas City Style.
To me "falling off the bone" ribs mean you take a bite of a rib and ALL the meat comes off. I like to take a bite and have to tug A LITTLE - and on the rib should be a semi-circular bite mark. However, you can cook your ribs any way that you like and if you serve them to me and they are good, I will enjoy them :)
re: rich in stl
Googling "off the bone" and Carolina I ran across several restaurant reviews where folks described the meat as fall off the bone tender. One of those restaurants early in the search results describes its cooking process for baby back as: "Our tender ribs slow-cooked for over 12 hours."
If I do try smoking at home, that's the length of cooking time I'd try.
I do know there are bad variations of regional food specialties around prevalently, so those who've said they've had bad, watery fall-off-the-bone ribs I can understand. (I'm just sayin' don't give up hope on the concept. Meanwhile, enjoy your ribs whatever style you like!)
NC bbq is chopped whole hog in the east, and chopped/sliced shoulders starting about an hour west of Raleigh. You very rarely find ribs offered separately.