Do you ever crave the delicious beefy-fattiness of brisket but feel like cooking for 12-18 hours is just too much? Do you want
What are beef ribs?
They’re not short ribs! Back ribs are, get this, from the back of the cow, where they sit under the prime rib roast. They are, in fact, analogous to pork baby back ribs. They don’t have
One drawback to beef ribs is that because they are coming off of such a prized piece of meat, they are usually cut quite close to the bone. So while the meat between the bones is wonderful, there’s precious little meat that lies atop the bones themselves. After all, the butcher can get more per pound for a good prime rib roast or steak than for a slab of back ribs!
How to find beef back ribs?
When your butcher makes a boneless prime rib roast or a tray of ribeye steaks, these are the ribs she cuts off. And that, in turn, proves to be their one difficulty: they are not always readily available. Most butcher’s shops only have as many racks of back ribs on hand as they have from their cutting. Calling ahead to a butcher shop or meat counter can ensure they have some on hand for you. Just be sure to specify you want back ribs, not short ribs. You are fortunate indeed if you are able to score a full, uncut rack of these tasty morsels—they are often cut into partial racks of 3-5 ribs. Now, there’s nothing wrong with partial racks—they cook up just fine—but if you want full racks, be sure to call your butcher a day or two ahead of time.
How long to smoke beef ribs?
Beef ribs can cook well and easily in about 3 hours time. The ribs are filled with connective tissue, yes, but it seems to be of a finer, less dense sort. When smoked at 275°F (135°C), beef ribs become tender and well-rendered in record time. You can put them on after breakfast and eat them for a late lunch. Of course, the 3-hour time is a rough guide: the ribs will be done when they have cooked sufficiently and the collagen in them has dissolved enough. That is measured by temperature. Using a Smoke X2—combined with Billows™—or other leave-in probe thermometer to track the temperature is essential because these ribs will not bend floppily when they have finished cooking—especially if they are cut into 3–5 rib pieces. A thermometer probe placed in the thickest part of the meat between two ribs with the high temperature alarm set to 205°F (96°C) will alert you to a perfect doneness temperature. There will be a stall on these ribs, but it is much shorter than on other BBQ cuts.
As for preparations, these ribs do fantastically with a mixture of salt and pepper, but your favorite beef rub also works for seasoning. No matter how you season them, you must remember to remove the silverskin membrane from the back (concave) side of the ribs. This is an important step for pork ribs, as well, but it is essential for beef ribs. If left in place, the membrane will cook up to a tough, inedible fibrous skin. To remove it, peel the membrane back a little at one corner of the rack, grip it with a towel and pull it off. Or, even better, have your butcher remove the membrane for you.
Smoked Beef Ribs Recipe
For this recipe, we’re following the method recommended by Jess Pryles in her Salt & Pepper Smoked Beef Back Ribs.
- 2 racks beef back ribs
- Your favorite BBQ rub
- 1 part kosher salt
- 3 parts large-mesh black pepper (16-20 gauge)
- Preheat your smoker to 275°F (135°C), burning your wood of choice—oak is highly recommended for this dish.
- If you haven’t removed the membranes from your ribs, remove them by peeling a little corner of the membrane off and pulling the membrane with a paper towel. (Again, having your butcher remove the membrane is a great idea.)
- If using the salt and pepper combine them.
- Apply your rub thoroughly to the ribs, pressing it into the meat.
- Place the ribs in the smoker.
- Set up your Smoke X2 thermometer, using a probe for the meat and a probe for the smoker air-temp. Set the high alarm in the meat for 205°F (96°C). For the air probe, set the high alarm to 300°F (149°C) and the low alarm for 250°F (121°C).
- When the high alarm for the ribs sounds, verify the temperature with an instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen®.
- Wrap the ribs in butcher paper and let them rest for 20 minutes.
- Cut the ribs apart and serve!
As you gnaw at these bones, enjoying your brisket-on-a-stick, remember to bask in the knowledge that you have created this bounty in a fraction of the time almost any other barbecue dish requires. And with the help of your Smoke and Thermapen, you’ll know even before you take a bite that everything is done perfectly.
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Jerry Newman says
As a beef back rib lover my never ending search for meaty back ribs has led to small independent grocery stores that cut their own meat. They will generally leave a fair amount of meat on the bones and sell them as reasonable prices, although they are not always available. Stay away from the ribs packaged and frozen as they have little or no meat.
The other little secret about the ribs is that they are still wonderful after having been refrigerated, so don’t worry if you have some cooked ones left over. Wrap them in foil and reheat in the oven or Toaster oven for about 15-20 minutes at about 275-300 degrees. You can also reheat them without the foil, but they often come out dry. You can even put them in the microwave loosely covered with a paper towel for about 2 -3 minutes, but be careful as the bones get very hot and can burn your hand when you pick them.
Great tip. Thanks!
De Prima Carl says
I smoked the beef ribs on the Big Green Egg. I used my Smoke thermometer for the air temp with the small probe for the meat and verified the finished meat temp of 205 with the Thermapen Mk4. I felt 276 was too high to smoke the meat, so I used 250+/- 5 degrees. Cooking it for 3 hours gave me the finish temp of 205 degrees and perfectly done. If I had followed the directions of cooking them for 6 hours at 276 I feel, based on my experience, they would have been way over done.
The instructions say to cook for about 3 hours, not 6. I’m glad they turned out perfectly for you!
De Prima Carl says
Sorry. My mistake for not reading carefully. My St Louis ribs take about 6 hours and I confused the two without re-reading these instructions. But I still think that 250 is a better temp to smoke at, as at that temp mine were ready in 3 hours.
Kyle F says
I just got into smoking and I bought some beef ribs, and I told the butcher I would be smoking them. The ones I got didn’t have a lot of meat on them, I am supposed to ask for a certain type of beef rib? Any help or guidance you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
There are two main kinds of beef ribs: plate ribs and short ribs. Short ribs have a thicker layer of meat that lies atop the bones, plate ribs are, yes, rather sparse. This recipe is for plate ribs, and you don’t get lots nad lots of meat off of them, but the meat is quite rich. But if you want as much meat as you get on short ribs, you’ll need several small racks.