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Pork Backbone and Rice

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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