There are a few kinds of short ribs you can find in our vending machines. They’re all cut from the rib section and are equally delicious. But they require different kinds of cooking. Currently we have beef short ribs specifically for smoking (as well as braising). We’re cutting them as big as we can fit in the vending machines — some people refer to these as dino ribs. If you’re game to set aside a day to smoke them, we recommend purchasing more than one rib per person. Normally, based on weight, we would suggest just one. But smoking is a long process, and if you’re going to go through the whole thing, you might want to buy more for second helpings and leftovers.
We also have traditional beef short ribs, the palm-sized cubes — AKA English-style — that are perfectly fatty and so great for braising. The dino ribs are cut from the same place; they’re just the bigger version. A rectangle to the English-style square. Whether you’re smoking or braising, the point is that low and slow cooking breaks down this fairly well-worked muscle into something fantastically tender.
For a short rib that cooks faster, we have cross-cut short ribs as well as boneless short ribs, both of which are great for Korean barbecue. They are cut horizontally from the front of the rib section into long, thin pieces of meat with a perfect amount of chew. Marinate and grill them quickly.
HOW TO SMOKE BEEF SHORT RIBS
There are many solid recipes available on how to smoke beef short ribs. If you have a smoker and are familiar with how to use yours, read through some recipes, then set aside a day to smoke them. The barbecue master Aaron Franklin smokes beef ribs on Saturdays. As he says in this recipe, “They’re a special treat, made all the more special because we do them only once a week.” He also says beef ribs are his own personal favorite cut of barbecue. Reason enough to make them. We cut ours individually so you can scale your portions, while Franklin smokes racks of ribs. If you want to smoke a rack, shoot us a custom order and we can cut them for you.
Whatever recipe you choose to go with, the method is this: heat your smoker to a low temperature, Franklin says 285°F. Rub the ribs. Cook them meat side up for 8 to 9 hours. Spritz during the final 2 to 3 hours. To tell if they’re done, even the master uses a meat thermometer. “Check for doneness by poking the ribs; when they feel like melted butter (about 203°F between the bones), serve,” he advises.
Josh Applestone takes his off his smoker after 6 to 8 hours (go the full eight if you want it very smokey, less if you want it less smokey), then he transfers them out of the smoker to the oven or grill and holds them at 250 to 275 degrees for another four hours until they get to that melted butter point.
NO SMOKER? NO PROBLEM
Not everyone has a smoker and we don’t think that should get in the way of you enjoying smoked beef ribs. You can smoke on any grill, it just requires light rigging and fire tending. These photos were taken by our Production Manager Greg Hangac and are of his smoking ribs on a gas grill. The tighter a seal you have on your grill, the better this will work. Want to try? Here’s Hangac’s how-to.
SMOKING BEEF SHORT RIBS ON A GAS GRILL
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 8 to 10 hours
6 to 8 beef short ribs
Salt and pepper for rub
Wood chips for smoking — cherry, walnut, hickory, or apple
Vinegar and water mixture for mopping
Rub the ribs with copious salt and tons of pepper. This is a standard rub. You could get creative and use oregano and other spices, too, but you aren’t likely to taste these flavors after many hours of smoking. Really get the salt and pepper all over and don’t skimp. Beef ribs are very rich and the rub balances this out a bit. If you’re familiar with smoking, extra rub will form a bark on the external surface that a lot of people seek out.
Meanwhile, take one grate out of one side of your gas grill. Place the 4 inch deep stainless steel pain directly on top of the gas burner on that side. Build a small fire in the pan. Place soaked wood chips on top of this fire. You want them wet so they will smolder and create smoke.
Once your smoke is going, place the ribs on the opposite side of the grill on the top rack. This is indirect heat. Place a drip pan under the ribs to catch fat and avoid flare-ups.
Stay put and tend the fire for the next 6 hours or so. You’re not looking for flames, here, just basically something warm enough to smolder and flavor the beef. Keep an eye on the temperature. Add more chips to the pan as needed. These need to be slow cooked at around 275 degrees. If you walk away, your temperature will spike, the meat will cook too fast, which will make it tough. You need low and slow cooking with these ribs. If your temperature spikes and you catch it, tend the fire — open and close the grill to lower the temperature. To keep the meat moist, spritz or mop with a vinegar and water mix. (Read this to learn more about mops.)
Over the next few hours, do small tasks in close proximity to your grill so you won’t be tempted to walk away. Clean your bike. You know what we’re talking about.
Towards the end of the smoking process, at around hour 5 or 6, take the pan with the coals and wood chips out of the grill. Do this very carefully and set it down somewhere it can’t burn.
Next, wrap the ribs in tin foil so they finish the cooking process in their own juices — still over indirect heat. This makes the meat tender. (We know some BBQ masters don’t wrap beef ribs; but then again they’re not smoking on a gas grill.)
Then turn on the gas to low and cook the ribs for a few more hours. Or you could do this same process by taking the ribs inside and finishing them in the oven — like Josh Applestone does. But not everyone likes to turn their oven on for that long in the summer.
Try to serve them with sides vs. just standing there and eating straight off the grill. Smoking is hungry-making work!