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 Mk4, you’ll know even before you take a bite that everything is done perfectly.
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