Recently, I bought some Prime Rib for a birthday dinner (it predates this blog so you won’t be seeing that cook on this site). When I bought the Prime Rib, I had the butcher cut between the actual ribs and the roast. This way, if I wanted to cook both at the same time, I could tie it together but, after roasting, I could take it apart for easier slicing. I ended up not cooking the ribs with the roast. I decided to save them and make Smoked Beef Ribs. Here is that cook.
What you will need:
Grill set up as a Smoker. Read this post before smoking the ribs. It will tell you how to set up the grill, achieve the temperature you want, and maintain that temperature for your entire cook
What I would be smoking was four “bones.” Here is a picture of the ribs with a ruler for scale:
You will see that some of the bones are exposed on the rack of beef ribs. In BBQ parlance, these are called “shiners,” and I would not buy these ribs in a store. At the time, I did not intend to smoke the ribs separately, so the butcher who cut these maximized the size of the roast and made the cut as close to the bones as possible.
Next, you want to slather the ribs with mustard, apply a rub, and let them sit in the fridge for at least an hour. The slather will help the rub adhere to the meat and will promote the creation of “bark,” i.e., a thick crust on the smoked meat. Some people use oil instead of mustard. The thought is that there are fat soluble flavors in the rub you will apply, and the oil will promote enhancing those flavors. I use mustard because the beef has fat that will render during the cook, and this will do the same thing.
I use plain yellow mustard as a slather:
I have made rubs from scratch. This time I used a commercial rub. My favorite beef rub, one that I have used on roasts, steaks and burgers, is Plowboys BBQ Bovine Bold Rub. Plowboys are a BBQ team that was the 2009 American Royal Invitational Grand Champion, and they sell their rubs to the public. You must be a “Grand Champion” in another BBQ competition sanctioned by an American Royal sanctioning body just to compete at the Invitational. It is a big deal in BBQ circles.
Apply a liberal coat of mustard (you will not taste or see the mustard in the final product), and dust the back of the ribs with the rub. Do not use a lot of rub. A little goes a long way.
Turn over the ribs and slather the “top” of the ribs with mustard.
Dust with the rub.
Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Here are a Couple of points:
First, some real good cooks put their rubs on the night before a cook. Other real good cooks put their rubs on right before smoking the meat. Still other real good cooks do it somewhere in between. My point here is don’t obsess over it. One method that does need to be done at least overnight is dry brining with Kosher salt before smoking. I did not do that here. The rub I used has salt in it. I did not want to make a rub from scratch for this cook, and I didn’t want to over salt by dry brining and using the rub.
Second, when you are grilling, e.g., steak, you want to have the meat at room temperature for at least one hour, but usually two, so that the meat heats up before you put it on the grill. The thinking is that every degree the temp of the middle of the steak rises before you grill is a degree you don’t have to achieve on the grill. Hence, you will get the internal temp you want before you burn the outside of the steak. Smoking works differently. Once the meat you are smoking cooks sufficiently on the outside–long before it is done smoking–it will not absorb any good flavors from smoke. Therefore, you want to prolong this process as long as possible. This is done by refrigerating the meat right up until the time you put it on the smoker.
Unwrap the ribs and put them over the drip pan on your grill. I smoked the ribs at 300 degrees.
Here were the ribs after 1 hour.
Here were the ribs after 3 hours.
I took them off the smoker after 4 hours. The ribs registered between 201 degrees and 203 degrees with my Thermapen instant read thermometer.
They were delicious!