Welcome to this edition of the smoking meat newsletter where I am going to show you the necessary steps to make some great tasting smoked beef short ribs.
Everyone complains that the beef back ribs are tasty but are very slim pickin’s when it comes to actual meat quantity. These beef short ribs are the way to go since they are a lot more meaty and there’s quite a bit of fat marbled into the meat to keep them moist during the cooking process.
Read on and I will show you how to prepare, smoke and serve them up to your family, friends and finest guests.
Beef short ribs have a lot of fat on the outside of the meat and in the meat and this makes them perfect for handling the high heat that they must get to in order to reach tenderness. Think brisket when you think of these.. they are usually braised and cooked in some sort of sauce or liquid if you cook them indoors which accomplishes the same purpose of cooking them to very high temperatures and allowing most of that fat to render during this process.
Like brisket, they will need to get up to about 200 degrees or so before they get tender and a lot of patience and TLC will do wonders on them.
What You’ll Need
- 9-12 beef short ribs
- Yellow mustard or Olive oil (optional, to help the rub to stick to the meat)
- 1 batch of Jeff’s Rub (purchase recipe)
- 1 batch of Jeff’s Sauce (optional, serve warm and on the side)
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How to Prepare the Beef Short Ribs
Preparation is quite simple and this can be done ahead of time, the night before or right before you cook them depending on what is more convenient for you and how much available room you have in the fridge.
Remove the ribs from the packaging and, if the butcher did not do this for you, remove the silver skin from the outside of the meat. I usually let the butcher do this extra stuff for me and I don’t claim to be the expert at this process.
Tip: Use a very sharp knife and paper towels for good grip.
At this point you can also remove some of the fat that is on the outside of the meat if you so desire. I trim a little but I don’t fuss with it too much unless I have plenty of time.
Lay the ribs down in a deep foil pan before applying rub so as to not make too big of a mess and this is also a great way to carry them out to the smoker once they are ready.
Apply mustard or olive oil to the outside of the meat to help the rub to stick better. I chose mustard this time and it works so well.
Rub the mustard in a little bit and make sure it gets on all sides of the beef short ribs
Sprinkle rub onto all sides of the meat and let them sit until they get that “wet” look.
Prepare the smoker
Setup your smoker for cooking at 225 degrees using your favorite smoking wood. I love pecan or mesquite on these.
You can use any smoker to cook these as long as you follow my recommended temperatures and you make sure they are tender before calling them done.
Here’s some information that I have written on various smokers.
- Bradley 4-Rack Digital Smoker – An electric smoker that is fully automated and keeps the temperature where you set it. It also keeps the smoke flowing via an automated mechanism that moves a new wood puck into the smoker every 20 minutes. See this smoker and read reviews on Amazon.com
- Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5 Smoker – the king of charcoal water smokers. Add charcoal, water and wood and you’re good to go for several hours. 3 dampers on the fire bowl allow you to dial in the air perfectly for maintaining perfect smoking temperatures. See this smoker and read reviews on Amazon.com
- Big Green Egg – Ceramic cooker that uses charcoal. Add lump charcoal, light it and add some wood.. set the top and bottom vent and you’re good to go for hours on end due to the thick walls that hold heat incredibly well.
- Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain Propane Smoker – A propane smoker that works exceptionally well. I have had mine for more than 8 years and it still works great. See this smoker and read reviews on Amazon.com
- More smokers on the way..
Note: In colder weather, it is advisable to preheat the smoker at least an hour or more before you are wanting to use it. Keep the door closed as much as possible and even skip basting if necessary to maintain proper smoking temperatures.
Smoking the Beef Short Ribs
Place the short ribs directly on the grate leaving space between them to allow the smoke to have full access to all sides.
Insert a digital probe meat thermometer into one of the ribs making sure the probe is going into actual meat instead of just fat. I use a Maverick ET-732 which is a dual probe remote thermometer with the sending unit at the smoker and the receiver in my pocket. This way, I can go about what I need to do and I always know the temperature of my smoker and the meat.
Let them smoke cook until they reach about 190 degrees. You can expect this to take about 5 hours in most cases depending on the thickness of the ribs, fat content, etc.
At this point, start checking them for tenderness by poking one of them with a toothpick or a fork. It should go in and pull out with very little force applied.
The ribs will probably be around 200 degrees when they reach full tenderness but once again, it can vary so you have to keep checking every 30 minutes or so and make a judgement call when they are tender to your liking.
When the short ribs reach about 160 degrees, place them in a foil pan covered with foil. Add about 1 cup of liquid (water, beef stock, apple juice, etc.) to the bottom of the pan just before closing them up.
Place them back in the smoker and cook them at 225 degrees for about 2 hours or until they reach about 200 degrees. Note: with this method, leave the probe in the meat so you will still be able to monitor the temperature of the meat and tell when they are nearing completion.
Should You Use the Water Pan?
If you have a water pan.. use it. This is a great way to help regulate the temperature of your smoker and to reduce the natural drying effect of heated air.
How Long to Keep the Smoke Going?
In wood smokers, the meat would be getting smoke for the entire time and this is what gives real wood smoked meat that characteristic robust smoky flavor that we all like so much. In your gas, electric or charcoal smoker, you can keep the smoke going the entire time if you so desire to give it just as much smoke flavor as you can or you can follow my recommended minimum which is to keep the smoke going for at least half of the estimated cook time.
Regardless of what you choose to do, be sure the smoker has some sort of way for air to get into the firebox via a vent, hole or opening and that the smoke has plenty room to exit the smoker via a chimney, vent or opening after it has passed over the meat.
This will ensure that the food gets nice and smoky without any creosote being added to the mix.
How to Serve the Smoked Beef Short Ribs
I usually plan on about (2) ribs per person. Serve with some of my warm barbecue sauce on the side since some folks just have to dip the meat in something.. at least give them something great to use for that purpose;-)
- Remove from package and place into a deep foil pan
- Trim fat/silver skin if required
- Apply yellow mustard to the ribs
- Sprinkle rub onto all sides of the ribs
- Place short ribs on directly on grate
- Smoke at 225 degrees for 5 hours or until 190 degrees
- Check for tenderness and remove when finished
Get the Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce
***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!
If I could give these recipes away, I would do that. I really want you to have them! But, then, this is how I support the newsletter, the website and all of the other stuff that we do here to promote the art of smoking meat.
Read these recent testimonies:
Love the sauce and rubLove the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well! ~Peter S.
I tried the rub on a beef..I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while. ~Darwyn B.
Love the original rib rubLove the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! ~Michelle M.
You see the raving testimonies and you wonder, "Can the recipes really be that good?"
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Great Resources for Smoking Meat Enthusiasts
Note: All off-site links will open a new window or tab. When you are done, simply close the window or tab and you’ll be right back here.
- Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue (my book)
- Smoking-Meat.com Facebook Page
- Follow Jeff on Twitter
- Newsletter Archive (All of our past newsletters archived just for you)
- The Smoking Meat Store (Smokers, smoking gadgets, thermometers, etc.)
- StoryQue: A Barbecue Magazine for iPad (Now available in PDF)
- The Smoking Meat Forums