Barbecued Beef Ribs (II: Practice)

In the first part of this article, I discussed the basic idea behind barbecuing beef ribs. In this final section, I’ll discuss the details of how you can do it on a home charcoal smoker or charcoal grill. 



Barbecued beef short ribs

There are various kinds of beef ribs. As beef ribs are less popular than pork ribs, you may not have the option of choosing the cut. Most commonly, you’ll find beef short ribs (or plate short ribs). These are the toughest cut of beef ribs, with the most connective tissue, but also the flavorful when properly prepared. This is what I barbecue when I make beef ribs.

Beef back ribs and chuck short ribs are two other cuts of beef ribs. These are meatier cuts, but less flavorful. If the ribs are labelled simply beef short ribs, they are usually plate (not chuck) short ribs. When selecting your ribs, look for ribs that are as meaty as possible. Plate short ribs contain less meat than the other cuts, so look for the meatiest you can find.

[Read more…]

Barbecued Beef Ribs (I: Theory)

Beef ribs are neither beer nor wine, nor does my recipe (which I’ll give tomorrow) include either of these  — although I heartily recommend enjoying a tasty beer while smoking the ribs. Still, I wanted to post an article on beef ribs because I know a lot of brewers also have an interest in grilling and smoking. 



Giant beef rib at Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, Texas.

I used to prefer pork ribs over beef ribs when I went to a barbecue joint. Pork ribs always seemed more tender, juicy, and flavorful compared to beef ribs, which often seemed either lacking in flavor or tough and dry. Then I went to Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, Texas. Their specialty is giant beef ribs and so I tried one — and believe me, one is all you need; their giant beef ribs look like something out of the Flintstones.

I was blown away. Their beef ribs were very flavorful and tender. In a lot of ways, the flavor of properly smoked beef ribs is similar to brisket. This isn’t surprising as brisket is the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscle from beef, and is located near the ribs.

Black’s beef ribs were not “fall off the bone” tender. Rather, they were moist and easily separated from the bone with a bite. You can get the “fall off the bone” character if you grill or smoke the ribs lightly, then braise them in the oven or stew them in a crock pot. You could also use sous vide cooking methods for this.

However, I like to prepare my beef ribs entirely in the smoker. So I don’t ever boil them. I want the full, smoked flavor of ribs cooked entirely in the smoker. As I found out, it isn’t easy to replicate Black’s style of beef rib preparation. However, with some research and multiple smoking sessions, I finally got it right.  [Read more…]