How to Cook Beef Ribs with The Smokin’ Elk
Great for beginners looking to get into low and slow smoking, beef short ribs are simpler to make but still have all the flavour, bark and tenderness of bigger cuts like brisket. The Smokin’ Elk shows us how to cook beef ribs on the BBQ, ensuring they’re perfectly juicy and tender.
Before you dive into cooking low and slow, you need to understand that cooking to temperature is very much a game changer. Certain meats like poultry are only safe once they hit a certain temperature, but others like low and slow cuts need to be taken way beyond the recommended temperature if you want them to break down and melt in the mouth.
Pork is safe to eat at 63°C. But if you want pulled pork, you need to take this all the way up to 93°C+. This is when all of the connective tissue has had time to break down, resulting in soft, succulent meat. The same goes for beef brisket. Forget 55°C for medium rare — brisket is no good medium rare. It takes time, love and science to take it all the way to smoky, juicy perfection. Usually this is at around 95°C.
But before you tackle the big cuts, why not try some beef short ribs? They’re cheaper, quicker and easier to cook than brisket, but the end result is just as good. Plus they’re a great way to hone your BBQ skills without breaking the bank.
What are short ribs?
Beef short ribs are cut from the short plate (also known as beef plate) of the cow, which is the belly side of the prime rib roasting joint. Also considered part of the brisket in the UK, the short plate is also used for skirt and hanger steaks. Cuts from this area are usually cheap because they’re tough and fatty. But with some low and slow cooking they can become beautifully tender and delicious.
There are a few different cuts of beef ribs that you can buy:
This is a rack of 3-6 bones.
The ribs are cut into individual bones. These can be left full-length or halved into smaller pieces.
The ribs are cut crossways across the bone, so that each piece contains a few small pieces of bone.
What temperature should you cook beef ribs to?
You want to cook your ribs to around 93°C before checking them for tenderness. If monitoring the temperature of your pit, you’re looking to keep this at around 150°C.
These are the best thermometers to use for keeping your rib temperatures in check:
A BBQ thermometer
For low and slow cooks like ribs, a BBQ thermometer is useful for monitoring the temperature of your pit and your meat, so you know that everything is on track without opening the lid.
I used the Smoke Wireless BBQ Thermometer for this recipe. When you insert the probe into the meat, just be careful to avoid any bones or the readings might be inaccurate.
Check out this guide to learn more about BBQ thermometers.
A meat probe
Whether or not you used a BBQ thermometer to monitor the temperature of your ribs as they cooked, an instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen is important for spot checking the meat throughout. Again, make sure you avoid the bones as you probe or you won’t get an accurate reading.
Once your ribs have come to temperature, a Thermapen thermometer is also great for checking the tenderness of the ribs. If the probe doesn’t slide through the meat without any resistance, the ribs will need to go on for a bit longer.