In the South you don’t hear much talk about beef ribs.
Usually the mighty pork spare rib is all the buzz. But deep in the heart of Texas some say the beef back ribs are a secret weapon of pit masters. Using hardwood smoke and just a bit of spice and vinegar, the beefy Fred Flintstone ribs are served almost naked and totally delicious.
We wanted to try to take the beef rib a bit further. Adding the sweet and saucy flavors of the southern pork ribs to heighten the steak on the bone flavor of beef back ribs.
It’s typical to cook pork ribs for around four hours to get them succulent and just right. But beef ribs are a bit different in nature. They are best served and eaten with a chewy tug and a bit of fight. Fall off the bone in the beef world is more akin to pot roast.
We started with two slabs (about 4 pounds each) of nice looking beef ribs from the butcher. They are also readily available around the country in supermarkets as Beef Back Ribs (not short ribs). Just opt for the meatiest slabs that you can find. They will cook down to a more subtle size.
The rib membrane carries a lot of fat and flavor so (unlike pork ribs) we opt to leave this membrane on. Again with beef ribs it’s ok to have a bit of bone gnawing fight.
When it comes to seasoning the Texas pitmasters don’t do much… but we wanted a more southern BBQ flavor so we rubbed the slabs down with a tablespoon of Tony Cachere’s Cajun seasoning and an equal amount of Turbinado (Sugar In The Raw) Sugar. Let the ribs rest overnight in the fridge or at least a few hours. Then allow the slabs to rest and come to room temperature before placing them on the smoker.
Fuel the smoker with charcoal and mesquite chips to 250 degrees and cover and do not disturb for at least an hour. Check, and refuel as need and cook for another hour with more smoke.
After two hours and fifteen minutes the beef should be pulling back from the ends of the bones. a tell tale sign that it’s about time to eat.
Our BBQ Trick is to add one last step: Wrap the slabs in foil, along with a layer of your favorite sweet sticky sauce plus a good sprinkle of brown sugar. Drop the foil wrapped slabs on direct high heat ( we dropped the smoker grill grate all the way down to the coals to get the meat searing hot. A few minutes on each side should give you a charred blackened sweet and sticky finish that will make you ready to dig in. Just give the ribs a ten minute rest on the cutting board before you cut and serve.
In the accompanying video we prepared the ribs with smashed potatoes. Just leave the spuds in (along with the ribs) for the 2 hour slow cook. Then smash and add cheddar and parmesan before the direct heat blast.
2 Tablespoons Tony Cachere’s Cajun Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Turbinado Sugar (also called Sugar In The Raw)
2 Slabs Beef Back Ribs (approx 4lbs each)
1 cup shredded cheddar
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tablespoons sweet BBQ Sauce
4 Tablespoons Brown Sugar