When you think beef and BBQ you think Texas, the home of big bold barbeque beef. Being from Ohio, beef ribs are usually not a staple in most bbq establishments, if they have them they are usually the beef back ribs, these are the rib bones that come from removing them from Prime Rib. They look similar to standard pork ribs as oppose to beef short ribs. So, I went on a search for methods of cooking beef short ribs Texas style and came up with the recipe I’ll share.
Beef short ribs have more meat than standard beef back ribs, a good amount more. Sometimes this layer of meat can be an inch or more. I visited my local butcher, Tom is his name, at The House of Meats, explained to him what I was looking for and he came through with what I wanted. I purchased whole slabs of short ribs with 3 bones, which are about 9 to 12 inches long each. I didn’t want the usual short ribs of a single bone about 4 to 5 inches long because I wanted to do them Texas Style.
Beef short ribs have a ton of flavor, meat, fat, and connective tissue which can be tough if not cooked properly, but by doing it right they don’t have to be tough at all. When short ribs are undercooked that connective tissues is tougher than the stuff you get caught in your teeth when people don’t remove the membrane from pork ribs. I cook my beef short ribs to 200 degrees so the fat melts and breaks down. The connective tissue starts to break down at about 170 degrees and it produces a jello like effect that kicks the taste, flavor and enjoyability way up!
Texas barbecue is all about big beefy, smoky flavor that seduces your tongue with flavors of smoke, meat and spice rub. Many of the best BBQ eateries in Texas use old-fashioned brick pits burning wood as fuel. For my Texas style short ribs I cooked them on an offset smoker at 225 degrees until they hit an internal temperature of 200 degrees and it took every bit of 8 hours to do so, but the payoff was well worth the wait!
- Cook them low and slow if you want juicy, tender ribs. I cook my ribs at 225 and pull them when the meat thermometer slides through the rib meat with little or no resistance. The internal temperature of the rib meat should be 200 degrees or more.
- WARNING!!! Skip wrapping the ribs in foil. The method of wrapping meat in butcher paper or foil when BBQing is called the Texas Crutch, but skip it for this. When I fix pork ribs, I wrap them in foil to help tenderize them, like in 3-2-1 Ribs. Just cook the beef ribs at a low temp and mop them to keep them moist.
- Mop for moisture. Since I am skipping the wrap, I make a mop sauce from 1/2 Cup of beer, 1/8 Cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/8 Cup of Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 Cup of water, 1 Tsp onion powder and 1 Tsp garlic powder. I mix this in a spray bottle and spray the ribs every hour after they have cooked for the first 2 hours.
- Skip the sweet rubs and sauces. You want your ribs to taste like beef! I used a new rub from my friend Junior Urias of Up In Smoke BBQ, called Paydirt, you can contact him about getting some. I’ve also tested out Junior’s Rub For Grub. A good basic rub that doesn’t have sugar in it or just salt and pepper will work also.
Texas Style Beef Short Ribs Recipe
First start with good meat. Try to get USDA Choice, Prime or Wagyu. If your local market doesn’t carry it then try Snake River Farms, they’re known for some of the highest quality meats you can find.
Remove the fat cap and silverskin from the top of the meat. Ask your butcher to remove the membrane from the backside of the ribs where the bones are. Cook the slab whole, I had mine cut lengthwise in half because I didn’t think they would fit on my smoker but I found out I had room. Get them in 3 or 4 bone sections as this makes them easier to cook.
After trimming the ribs I rubbed them down in some Franks Hot Sauce, you can use your favorite Hot Sauce. I then applied a nice layer of Junior’s Paydirt rub and waited until it began to look wet before doing the same thing to the backside of the ribs. Once complete I wrap them in cling wrap and let them rest in the fridge overnight. I pulled them from the fridge, unwrapped them and let them sit for an hour before cooking. I do this because I don’t like putting cold meat on a hot grill which can cause the meat to draw up and lose moisture quickly.
Setup your cooker for indirect cooking if you don’t have an offset smoker and pre-heat to 225. I used my Maverick 733 Wireless Grill Thermometer to monitor the temperature of my smoker. I also use my Kuuk Instant Read Thermometer to check the temperature of the ribs during the cook and to see how easily it poked through the connective tissue mentioned earlier. You should be able to poke through it like butter when they are done.
Cook the beef short ribs bone side down. I start my fire with Kingsford Charcoal and a couple splits of Mesquite wood. I added a few Hickory wood chunks after the first hour of cooking. After 2 to 3 hours the meat will not take any more smoke so I finished the cook by just supplying enough charcoal to maintain the temperature. Too much smoke will ruin your meat. Place a pan of hot water in your cooker. If using an offset smoker place the pan at the end close to the heat source on the cooking grates. If you’re using the indirect cooking method place the pan of water on the cooking grate above the coals. This helps to keep moisture in the cooking chamber the first few hours. Remember don’t open your grill for the first 2 hours.
When the ribs are done you should get an internal temperature of at least 200 degrees and when you check the temp between each bone with your instant read thermometer it should slide straight through. Remove the ribs from your grill and tent them with foil. I let mine rest for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. I serve my beef ribs naked, no sauce is needed! If you must use a sauce use it as a dipping sauce and use a bold spicy sauce, nothing sweet.
I served mine with garlic mashed potatoes, roasted veggies and Guinness Blonde beer.