Beef ribs, one surefire way to make my eyes light up is to place a huge beef rib that was smoked low and slow for hours in front of me. That peppery bark, coupled with a couple pounds of smoked, rich, fatty, tender beef on a monster sided bone is enough to make just about anyone excited. Where I live, you would have to drive at least 4 hours to find a place that makes them, and makes them well. Because of this, I set out to create these impressive ribs myself.
My biggest initial issue with creating these monster sized ribs, was to actually find a place to purchase the beef short rib plates. Most butchers or stores where you can purchase short ribs, cut them down into smaller pieces to put in the meat case. I usually hit up the butcher earlier in the day to guarantee there will still be some there before they cut them, and I ask for the largest looking pack they have on hand. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a few packs to choose from.
Considerations: You can find many ways to cook any types of ribs in books, on the internet, or from people who have done it before. Cook temperatures in BBQ can be variable. One person may like to smoke their ribs at 225°F and and another 275°F. One person may like to wrap their ribs in butcher paper or foil, and another might not wrap at all. None of these people are wrong. Through trial and error, find the method that best works for you. I switch it up all the time, just so I can see which methods I prefer.
1. Prep the ribs. Trim off any excess fat off and silverskin off of the meat side of the ribs. Most of the time they come pretty well trimmed, but on occasion they are not.
2. Apply the rub. Using your favorite rub or your own, liberally coat and rub the surface of the meat on all sides. If you do not have a commercially available rub you like to use, mixing equal parts of kosher salt and a medium grind black pepper will give you a more classic “Texas-style” bark on your ribs. Sometimes I even enjoy adding a bit of garlic powder and paprika. If time allows, I like to refrigerate my ribs overnight after they have been rubbed, but they will turn out just fine without this step.
3. Fire it up! Get your smoker lit and set up for indirect cooking at 275°F, and add your desired wood. I personally enjoy post oak, hickory, cherry, or a combination of any of those woods, but use your personal favorite. Place a drip pan full of water either underneath the grate, on the grate of your smoker, or where it is feasible to do so. The moisture will help to keep the surface of the meat from drying out and help to encourage a nice smoke ring as well.
4. Smoke. Place the ribs bone side down on the grate. Periodically spritz the ribs with either apple juice, vinegar or whatever you prefer, after the bark is starting to set up on the ribs. Usually this is at least a couple hours into the smoking process. I use apple cider vinegar personally.
5. To wrap or not to wrap, that is the question. I personally wrap my ribs in either pink/peach food grade butcher paper or foil when the internal temperature of the beef is 160°-165° I do not add any liquid to my ribs when I wrap them. Continue to cook the ribs until a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat reaches 203°F. I use my Thermapen MK4 as it gives a quick and precise temperature reading. Remember, we are cooking to temperature, not to time. Cook time will depend on the thickness of the meat and the temperature you are cooking at. If you are cooking at 275°F, you might be looking at 6 hours. If you are cooking at 225°F, you could easily be looking at much longer. Plan accordingly.
6. Rest. I prefer to let my ribs rest for a full hour to allow the connective tissues in the meat to further break down yielding that dreamy tender beef rib that we’ve patiently been waiting for.
7. Enjoy! Slice up your beef ribs to your liking and enjoy!
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