Introduction: How to Smoke Beef Short Ribs
In a previous Instructables I smoked a beef brisket. This time I'm going to smoke some beef short ribs, which smokes and cooks very similarly to brisket. Since it's beef it will build a beautiful dark flavorful smoky bark on the exterior. The bark that forms is caused by the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its awesome flavor.
These fatty ribs will render down into a nice juicy succulent beefy goodness. Lets gets cooking!
Step 1: Ingredients
- Plate of beef short ribs*
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- Canola oil
* I got a pack of cryovac beef short ribs from my butcher, as you can see they aren't a full length beef rib, hence the "short". My butcher mostly sells them flanken style, meaning they are cut thinly across the ribs, typically you find these types of ribs at Korean BBQ. When left as a whole section, this called a plate or english style.
Step 2: Preperation of the Beef Short Ribs
To prepare the beef short ribs for smoking is a simple process:
- Coat the ribs with some canola oil, this is so the rub will stick
- Sprinkle with an even and generous amount of salt and roughly ground black pepper, that's it, the smoke is what's going to do the flavoring
Step 3: Cooking/Smoking the Beef Ribs
So since we are going to smoke the ribs, obviously we need a smoker. It's up to you what type you want to use. I personally like using a wood smoker that burns actual wood but electric or propane works great too.
You can watch the whole cook from start to finish on my video but I included all the written steps below:
The choice of wood makes a difference when smoking meat, some meats like beef can take a lot of wood smoke whereas delicate cuts of meat like chicken can get over powered depending on the wood.
I’m smoking these short ribs using maple hardwood but another good choice of wood is hickory or even apple wood. Use what is available in your area, generally speaking avoid mesquite, it's way to strong of a smoke that if used for a long cook like what is required for beef ribs, the meat becomes way too smoky, trust me.
While I was preparing the ribs, I started a batch of charcoal in a charcoal chimney, this charcoal serves as the base fire and then switch and burn only wood for the whole of the cook.
A water pan is placed between the fire and meat as a buffer in my smoker, it’s mostly there to help moderate temperature since it’s a big thermal mass but it also adds humidity to the cook, helping to keep the meat moist.
Next the beef short ribs are loaded into the smoker.
For the next 5-6 hours I tend the fire by adding more wood as it burns down, every 20-30 minutes. It depends because my smoker is small, I can't load too much wood in or else it heats up too much, if I don't had enough it doesn't get hot enough. It’s a balancing act but a very rewarding one, tending fire.
I maintain the temperature between 250-275F, that is a sweet spot for making good BBQ. Also keep an eye out on the exhaust smoke, it should be a white wispy smoke, barely visible. You don’t want dark thick smoke, that means the fire is staved of air and will make the BBQ taste off or acrid.
Between the 5-6 hour mark the ribs should have a nice base layer of color from a golden brown to light brown color, depending on how hot the cook was. At this point the meat won't take on much more smoke so it's time to wrap the ribs.
I wrap the ribs using butchers paper but I’ve used aluminum foil in the past but I find the meat steams too much and you don’t get good bark formation but it does cook faster. The butchers paper lets the meat breath and you get a really nice bark as some of the moisture can escape, you could also leave it unwrapped but I find that dries out the less fatty parts of the meat.
At this point I switch over to I’m going to do something called the Texas crutch or cheat since the meat has been warpped and I complete the remainder of the cook in my oven, I set my oven for 250 and let the ribs cook for the next 5-6 hours. The reason for this is since the meat has been wrapped, it realistically will not take on any more smoke. It's just easier to use an oven from this point forward and not have to worry about tending fire.
Once in the oven, I cook for another 5 to 6 hours, you can tell when the ribs are done when the internal temp of the meat reaches 195F-200F with a meat thermometer or the meat pulls away from the bone.
The beef ribs should have taken on a really burnt look and this "bark" is created when the meat is exposed to heat and smoke, in total the cook time was around 12 hours. Beef is the only meat that creates an amazing crust!
If possible, remove the meat and let it sit for 30-60 minutes before serving. This allows the meat to cool slightly so when you slice it doesn't dry out right away due to evaporation of steam from the meat .
I hope you give this a try, they are so good! Check out my other Instructables and youtube channel for more food related topics.