Pork Backbone and Rice

| March 5, 2017 | 22 Comments

Pork Backbone and Rice recipe.
Follow our step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe for making this old Southern favorite of Pork Backbone and Rice. Just a few simple ingredients are all you’ll need to complete our super easy recipe. It’s a great way to take advantage of the low price of pork backbone, and stretch it out into a great family meal. Printable recipe included.


backbone and rice, slider
Pork Backbone and Rice recipe.

I love my older brother. I love his stories of “Growing Up Gordon,” that he often shares when I can get him started in that direction. He has a very vivid memory of what it was like growing up when he was young.

There were three of us. We had a sister that passed away a few years back. She was the middle child, and I’m the youngest of the three.

When older brother and I are on a road trip in the truck, we often talk about things from the past. He says he can remember things from his childhood better than things he did yesterday. Smile.

On a recent road trip, we got to talking about “hog killing time.” I think it was because the weather had turned really cold and one of us made the comment that it was “cold enough to kill hogs.” It’s an old Southern expression often heard when the weather turns really cold around here.

We talked about the process of slaughtering hogs around Thanksgiving, and he was quick to point out just how good that fresh pork tasted right after the hog was butchered.

That brought up a conversation about “backbone.” Older brother said it was usually the first piece of meat that Mama would cook on the day we killed pigs. She’d always prepare a big meal for those that had been helping us with the work that day.

Then he mentioned how the next morning, Mama would usually fry up some of the fresh pork tenderloin from hog killing day. She’d start by baking up a large pan of her Buttermilk Biscuits, then fry up some tenderloin to go along with it.

Those hot biscuits, with a piece of fresh, fried pork tenderloin would get any day started off right.

But, going back to the backbone, older brother said there just isn’t any comparison to buying pork in the store today as it was getting it fresh from the hog on those days.

Hog killing days were cold, long, and filled with hard work. Everyone was ready for one of Mama’s hot meals by the time they had butchered the pig down to where she could have the backbone to cook.

A week or two later, I found myself at the Nahunta Pork Center down in Pikeville, North Carolina. Nahunta bills itself as the largest all pork retailer in the eastern part of the United States. The only meat products they sell are… Pork.

Looking through the long cases of various pork products, I spotted a large package of pork backbone.

Remembering our conversations, I had to pick up a pack, and I’ve got two recipes for you here on Taste of Southern that I’ve prepared from that package of fresh backbone.

This Backbone and Rice is the first, and I’ve got one for Backbone with Dumplings. Both are old Southern favorites, and both utilize one of the cheaper cuts of pork, along with ways on how to stretch the meat portion even further. Backbone is one of those frugal type of meals.

I do hope you’ll enjoy it. Should you give the recipe a try, be sure to come back and leave me a Comment in the section at the bottom of this page.

So, if you’re ready, let’s get in the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking.


backbone and rice, ingredients
Pork Back Bone and Rice: You’ll need these ingredients.


backbone and rice, dice the onions.
Dice the onions. Grab a tissue, they’ll probably make you cry. Always does me.


backbone and rice, rinse the back bones under cold water.
Rinse the pieces of backbone under some cold running water. I just place them in my colander, rinse them, then let them drain. As you can see these are some fairly large sized pieces of meat.

You may not be able to find them listed as backbone in your area. If not, look for something called Country Style Ribs in the pork section.


backbone and rice, add bacon grease to sauce pot.
Place a large sauce pot on your stove top. Set the heat to Medium, then add the Bacon grease.

Bacon grease will add a lot of flavor, but if you don’t have it, a little butter or vegetable oil will work just about as well.


backbone and rice, add the onions.
Toss the Onions into the pot.


backbone and rice, cook onions until they are translucent.
Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent. Only takes a couple of minutes.


backbone and rice, add the meat to the pot.
Place the pieces of backbone meat into the pot on top of the onions.


backbone and rice, lightly brown the meat.
Let the meat lightly brown, then flip it over. This will take about two minutes per side.

You’re not cooking it all the way through, just lightly searing it a bit.


backbone and rice, add water.
Add the water.

I like to add warm tap water at this point. Cold will work unless you’re using a cast iron pot of some type. You wouldn’t want to run the risk of cast iron cracking by adding cold water to a hot pot.


backbone and rice, add enough water to cover the meat.
Add enough water to cover the meat by about an inch.


backbone and rice, add the salt.
Now, add the Salt.


backbone and rice, add the black pepper.
Add the Black Pepper.


backbone and rice, add the sage.
Add the Sage.

This step could be optional if needed. I’m only adding a small amount as you can see. I’m not a big fan of Sage, mostly because it gives me heartburn, but I do like a little for flavor.

Oregano, Rosemary, or Poultry Seasoning could be used as a good substitute if desired.


backbone and rice, add the vinegar.
Add the Apple Cider Vinegar.


backbone and rice, cover and simmer.
Stir all the spices into the water, then bring the pot up to a slight boil.

Cover the pot, REDUCE the heat down to about Medium-Low, then let it simmer for roughly about an hour, or until the backbone meat is tender.


backbone and rice, add the rice.
When the meat is tender, add the Rice.

Pork is done at 145F degrees. If you have a thermometer, it’s always good to check the temperature of the meat so you get it done without over cooking it. I like to use a digital thermometer that gives a quick reading. It’s one of my must-have kitchen utensils.

The meat should easily pull away from the bone when tender.

Before adding the rice, you could also remove the meat and let it cool a bit, before removing the bones. Then, add the meat back into the pot and add the rice.

I chose to just leave the meat on the bone for this recipe. Either way will work. Your choice.


backbone and rice, stir gently.
Give the rice a gentle stir.


backbone and rice, cover once again.
Cover the pot again, and let the rice simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Do NOT open the pot to stir the rice. Just let it cook.


backbone and rice, enjoy.
Serve and Enjoy!

I used a slotted spoon to remove the rice and a portion of the backbone per serving. It kind of depends on how much liquid or “soup” you have in the pot once everything has cooked.

Serve it up with a side of greens, and maybe some baked sweet potatoes. Oh yeah, don’t forget the cornbread.


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Backbone and Rice recipe, printable recipe, as seen on Taste of

Pork Backbone and Rice

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish, Pork
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


Follow our step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe for making this old Southern favorite of Pork Backbone and Rice. Just a few simple ingredients are all you’ll need to complete our super easy recipe. It’s a great way to take advantage of the low price of pork backbone, and stretch it out into a great family meal.



  • 3lb Pork Backbone, sliced
  • 1 small Onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Bacon Grease
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of Sage
  • 1 cup Rice, uncooked
  • 6 cups Water


  1. Dice the onion.
  2. Place a 6 quart pot on Medium-heat on your stove top.
  3. Add the bacon grease.
  4. Add the onions, sauté until onions are slightly translucent.
  5. Add the backbones. Brown slightly on all sides, about one minute.
  6. Add water.
  7. Add salt.
  8. Add black pepper.
  9. Add apple cider vinegar.
  10. Add sage.
  11. Bring mixture to a slight boil. Cover. Reduce to Medium-low heat.
  12. Simmer on low heat for about 45-60 minutes, or until meat can be easily removed from the bone.
  13. Add the rice.
  14. Cover pot and simmer another 15 minutes.
  15. Remove from heat. Leave covered and let rest for 5 minutes.
  16. Serve warm.
  17. Enjoy!

Keywords: Pork Backbone and Rice Recipe, backbone, rice, southern recipes, made from scratch, soul food

Your Comments:  Ever tried Pork Backbone and Rice? I’d love to hear your comments on our recipe. It will only take a minute or two for you to share your comments in the section below.  Just remember, all comments are moderated.  That just means that I personally read each and everyone before they are approved for viewing on our family friendly website. Thank you in advance for sharing.

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Category: Main Dishes, Pork

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (22)

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  1. Cassie Milligan says:

    Thanks for the recipe. Just ordered a whole pig from a local farmer in SC and didn’t know what to do with the backbone!!

  2. Carrie says:

    Made this tonight after finding some backbone in my freezer, I added a chicken bouillon cube, and a little extra rice, it was amazing!!

  3. Paula says:

    Mom cooked her backbone on top of stove . Lots of fat on it was so tender melted in your mouth. Now can’t find that piece of meat…I have asked butchers too and don’t know. Please let me know if I can find anyone in Dallas area who sells backbone..

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Paula, I’m surprised a butcher can’t come up with a pork backbone for you. And, I’m sorry that I personally can’t help you in your area. Maybe one of the readers will chime in and offer a suggestion if they live in the area. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of help. Thank you for your visit today. I do hope you’ll visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      • Rick says:

        Re your reply to Paula…ypu might want to go back and read your recipe… it clearly states country style ribs can be substituted for backbone. Also, 6 cups of water and 1 cup of rice sounds like potentially a stew!

        • Steve Gordon says:

          Hi Rick, Paula had asked specifically for the backbone information. I’m surprised her butcher didn’t suggest the country style rib part to her. As for the ratio of water and rice, it really didn’t turn out as thin as you might think. At least mine didn’t. Smile. I appreciate your comments and your visits. I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  4. Ing says:

    I will be trying this recipe today as I picked up some pork backbone unknowingly at the store. We are currently in Portugal and I did not use my translate app while in the store. I might alter the spices somewhat depending on whats available. Can’t wait to start cooking!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Ing, Greetings to PORTUGAL all the way from North Carolina. I hope the Pork Backbones turned out great for you. I’d love to hear about that. Thank you for taking the time to write and for your visit today. I hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  5. Barbara Moore says:

    My South Georgia relatives called this Porky Rice. Delicious. Can’t wait to try! Would love a recipe for your flat cornbread. They made their cornbread like that, too!!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Barbara, Never heard it called Porky Rice, thank you for sharing that. I do hope you’ll try it and I look forward to hearing how it turns out for you. I’ll work on getting a recipe for the “flat cornbread” as you called it. Thanks for the reminder. I do appreciate your visits and hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  6. David Browning says:

    My dear mother used to make this budget recipe, and it was really good! I was delighted to find the cut in an Asian grocery–I have never seen it in a regular supermarket. I immediately knew I had to make backbone and rice, and I can’t wait. For the record, I have some fresh chicken stock that I just made that I will use instead of water, and I might adjust the seasonings. Also, I don’t have any bacon grease, but I have either chicken fat or lard (from a Latino grocery store) that I will use to saute the onions. I will let you know how it turns out!

  7. Sandra Lowry says:

    I buy this cut of pork often labeled as Country Style Ribs. (I believe I like that name better than Backbone!) I usually bake them in the oven with bbq sauce but this recipe sounds great. I can’t wait to try it.
    I use the expression “cold enough to kill hogs” often and get quite a few comments about it. Growing up in the country in Virginia, it’s an expression locals know but it does create a little confusion for others!
    Love your recipes, stories and especially your love of all things Southern. You are like my own family!

  8. Karen Miller says:

    It’s definitely Spring in Georgia. Everything turns yellow, including my Red car.

    It’s also the beginning of yard sale season. The second full weekend in March, my husband and I leave out early Friday morning for the “peaches to the beaches” 200 mile yard sale from Barnesville, Ga to the Georgia coast. We have several special stops to catch up with friends and craftsmen/women we met over the years we’ve been doing this.

    We discovered a similar type sale in North Carolina last year. Had a lot of fun!

    Enjoy your newsletter.


    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Karen, They do have one of those “miles” of yard sales not far up the road from me each year. I’ve never been to it though. I enjoyed yard sales in my younger days, and have had plenty of them myself, but these days, the old legs just don’t want to participate much anymore. I hope you can track ours down one day and take it in. Thank you for your comments, and thank you for your visits to Taste of Southern. I trust you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  9. Brad Corn says:

    Love backbones and ribs. Growing up in south west Virginia almost every Sunday my grandmother had a big ole pot of backbones and ribs with boiled cabbage and cornbread yummmmy!After church we would gather for lunch at our grandparent for good ole southern cooking. Miss those days!

  10. Marilyn says:

    Good Morning,

    Looks really good. I was wondering if the corn bread that is pictured in your illustration is what is called a Hoe Cake? I read one of your stories a few years back about how you would cook these up as a youngster when you came home from school, and I have looked for that particular article a few times. I have wanted to try them, and can’t find a recipe for it on your website. Could you give the recipe for that? Have a great week, I look forward to the next pork recipe.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Marilyn, Mama always called those pieces of cornbread Hoe Cakes. Some folks just call it Fried Cornbread. Thank you for the suggestion, I’ll try to do a recipe for it soon. I do hope you’ll visit with us often. I appreciate your visits and your comments. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  11. Ann Kloman says:

    Is a backbone the same as country style spareribs? Thank you.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Ann, Thank you for the question. Yes, they are often times called Country Style Ribs. I do hope this helps. Please let me know if you try the recipe and how it turns out for you. I appreciate the question and your visits to Taste of Southern. I trust you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      • Larry Westberry says:

        Actually the answer is no to that question. The old fashioned backbone that the old timers were used to looks sort of like an extra thick pork chop. Sadly you can’t find it now, so we have to settle for the next best which is country style ribs.

        • Diana Baker says:

          I can find pork back-bones from Polyface Farms in Virginia. They are inexpensive and the flavor is amazing.

          • Laura says:

            Hi Diane, That’s why I’m here. Just got pork back bones from polyface farms. I am making this today.

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