Ahead of brisket and way ahead of pork ribs - beef short ribs are my go to low and slow meal. They are a breeze to cook, very forgiving and pack so much flavour when nailed on the smoker.
Rack of beef short ribs*
Water spray bottle
6-10 hours smoking time.
Prepare the beef short ribs by trimming them of excess fat. I recommend using a sharp filleting knife to remove the fat from across the top of the rib, using it to get under the fat expose the rib meat. Next, remove the membrane from across the back of the bones. Some would say this isn’t necessary, but I find removing it makes the ribs easier to cut up after cooking, plus the bones are nicer to gnaw on! Once trimmed up apply your favourite BBQ rub to the beef ribs. see notes for more information on rubs.
Prepare your smoker for a target temp of 250-275°F. Up until recently I cooked my ribs on my Weber Kettle with great results using a 2-zone cooking setup. Now I cook them on my Weber Smokey Mountain mostly due to cooking space available. You don’t need a few thousand dollar offset to produce good ribs. I find that beef ribs will cook better with the fat rendering more easily at the higher end of this.
Place the short ribs on the grill. If you are using a digital thermometer place this into the BBQ on the grate next to the meat. A meat probe isn’t necessary for low and slow cooking. They aren’t helpful for gauging when a cook will be done as the cut, the stall and other BBQ related factors such as fire consistency and weather can swing this wildly. This is especially true for someone just starting out. Instead we focus on how the meat looks and how it feels. More on this later.
Once the short ribs are in position and the BBQ is at temp, add your wood chunks to the coal, and place any water baths you may have into the grill and close the lid.
After the short ribs have been smoking for an hour we want to check in on progress. At this stage I typically find it best to start the spritzing process. For my spritz I use water, and nothing else. Some will insist on a concoction of water with other additions such as vinegar, beef stock, apple juice etc. To each their own but i don’t find this necessary.
When spritzing adjust your spray bottle to a fine mist, open the BBQ and give the ribs a very light spray of water, being careful not to disturb the rub by spraying too directly or heavily. Repeat this process every hour, topping up or adjusting your coal and wood as needed to maintain the consistent temperature of 250-275°F.
Around the 7-8 hour mark, depending on your cut and fire etc, the short ribs will be nearing ready, however its not unusual for this to take another 1-2 hours Start testing for doneness by probing the short ribs with a meat skewer. Beef ribs - like brisket - are ready when they ‘probe like warm butter’ – i.e. the probe can be slid in to the meat with no resistance or force required. The internal temp when this occurs can be anywhere from 195°F to 215°F. Yes, 203 or 205 is typical but the marble quality, size of the meat etc. can make the perfect temperature move around a bit, especially across the cut. It is also not unheard of for meat to drop temperature when you’re not looking, so for beef ribs, focus on probe feel.
Once this probe feel has been reached, remove the short ribs from the grill. I find beef ribs don’t respond all that well to a long rest time, so I will always get into them as soon as possible. However, if you really cant eat them immediately, wrap them tightly in tinfoil, then a towel, and place them in a chilly bin to stay warm for consumption later.
Sometimes these are sold as either a full slab or half cut slab where the band saw has been run horizontally through the centre of the rack If you can, always go for a full rack as it is a far more efficient use of time and smoke. Plus, leftover pulled beef ribs on pizza and in pies is unreal!
My favorite barbecue rub for beef ribs is the Barbecue Mafia Steakout. It’s pitch black and adds an amazing depth of flavor to the ribs. Other great rubs that are of regular use here are Rum & Que Bull Dust and Hardcore Carnivore Black
If you don’t want to use a commercial rub, or can’t find a rub you like, start out with a simple salt and pepper mix. 50:50 salt flakes to coarse ground pepper. as time progresses add some garlic powder and paprika like in our beef rib bao burgers to suit your individual tastes.