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Dan Cannon

How I do BBQ Beef Ribs,
one of my VERY FAVORITE BBQ Meats !!! 

Updated 22-March-2012  



Beef Ribs are a different animal than Pork Ribs (literally). There’s no selection of backs versus spares to worry about, just 12-inch lengths with no breastbone attached. BUT, you can find a "premium" version that has more meat than others (not trimmed as close to the bone), and of course they will cost more.  BUT, I still like the ones I am about to describe.  Which are, typically 3.5 lbs per rack with 7 bones. I basically cook Beef Ribs exactly like I do Pork Spare Ribs (almost). They cost between $0.59/lb to $1.49/lb. Typically I buy a frozen block of 50-55 lbs. and they typically run under $75 per case.  That 50-55 lb block is unwrapped, layered slabs, and frozen solid. But, lightly covered with a plastic sheet top and bottom in the box/case. Let a case defrost in refrigeration for 4-7 days before processing.



Remove from the package/box and immediately remove the membrane on the back side of the ribs.
My favorite method is to take a skinning knife (like a Forschner Skinner) and slice the fat/membrane off the back of the beef ribs. This is much easier than the method I describe below. It even works if the slabs are slightly frozen. I will do the below if it proves easier than the skinner/knife method.  Literally I never try and peel it anymore, I just use a skinner and slice it off.  It is usually pretty thick with a lot of fat also.
My second method, use a sharp object (screwdriver, fork, knife, etc.) and get under the membrane about the 3rd bone up from the large side; get your finger under it, then grip it with a paper towel and try to remove it in one full piece.  Much harder on a Beef Rib than a Pork Rib.  The membrane is removed because it will be chewy after cooking and won't allow seasoning penetration.
Remove any obvious and obnoxious fat; beef ribs have much more than pork ribs. Much of it will render off in the cooking process



Seasoning is a very simple and easy task; just lay the ribs all out, meat side down. Take mustard (just plain mustard) and LIGHTLY coat the rack, or,  take a mixture of apple juice (80%) and oil (20%) and spray the slab to hold the seasoning better to the meat. Then take BBQbyDan Rub, or your favorite BBQ rub, and sprinkle all the racks LIGHT to MEDIUM. Turn them over (meat side up) and repeat the process. In the end the ribs are meat side up and seasoned on both sides. They are now ready to put into the Smoker or stack on each other in a bus tub overnight.  




If you have the cooking space just put them in the cooker meat side up. If there are 20 - 30 racks, then put them in rib racks. Just pick a nice spot that has even heating (about 250° - 260°F) and go for it.
I will typically cook ribs with 80% oak and 20% hickory or 100% Pecan (my favorite). I do not use mesquite on ribs. Ribs are the kind of meat where you are eating as much, or more, of the exposed meat during the cooking period time. This is the opposite of brisket or butt where most of what you are eating was NOT exposed to the smoke. So for that reason I will cook my butts, briskets, Tritip, and prime rib with any of the other woods, even mesquite (but not often), but not ribs or chicken.
Why even bother with a less tasteful wood like mesquite, one might ask. Well, mesquite is sold in every store VERY cheaply in California. Oak, Hickory, and Pecan are hard to come by and more expensive.

We are probably talking a 4-6 hour cook-time on Beef Ribs. Typically in a rotisserie it would take 4.5 hours at 255-265 degrees. If not using a rotisserie I would rotate and baste them the first time at 2-3 hours. Rotate them end-over-end, side-over-side (turn over), upper to lower shelf if applicable, and side-to-side (shelf positioning) if applicable.


Dry/wet Marinating is my favorite method for beef ribs, as I described above in the SEASONINGS section. To do this I will spray with apple juice and oil, or, use a light coating of mustard, on both sides, then apply my/your favorite rub, and let sit over night, or not.



I actually don't like my beef ribs glazed while cooking (beside for the fact that the sauce will burn). I am very happy with the baste (apple juice and oil in a spray bottle) that I will use a couple of times during the cooking process in a small smoker like a WSM.  That will provide a nice, moist and tasty product surface. However, in a rotisserie (like an Ole Hickory) they self baste and spraying is not necessary but will only hinder the cooking process. If you must, you might try a brush-on baste of a bit of oil, apple juice, a tablespoon or so of your favorite rub, and a bit of manteca/lard! That is really going to take it to the next level. They will then truly be the "Bees Knees"!



After 4 hours (+/-) I check to see if the ribs/bones/meat breaks apart by twisting the bones (instead of bending like rubber), then check for a temperature of 199-205 degrees between the bones. If both conditions above are met I pull them out and they’re done. Always do both checks. It ensures a great and completed product, and, gives you experience for subsequent Beef Rib cooking. Let sit in a warmer for a couple of hours or so, then brush on a nice BBQ sauce (like BBQbyDan 4 Star Glaze) and slice the bones for serving.  



The final product will be AMAZING beef ribs. If prepared and cooked correctly, they will be moist. If you follow the guidelines above, your ribs will come out with a great beef taste.

As I like to say, 

Beef Ribs done right are simply Prime Rib with a handle!  AND, definitely my personal favorite piece of BBQ !!!


Dan Cannon



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Revised: 06 Jan 2015 12:33 .