Home-smoked Beef Ribs

I believe that the beef rib is the king of Texas barbecue. It is such an impressive cut of beef. Of course we’re talking about plate ribs. I think the smaller chuck ribs are good too. And I am sure the beef back ribs are reasonable. They just look too meager in the volume of meat they have compared to the brontosaurus-class plate ribs. I found a reasonably-sized hunk of these plate ribs recently at my local HEB. So I excitedly grabbed them. I had only cooked beef ribs one other time. And I had never done them at home on my Traeger pellet smoker. So this was going to be a fun experiment.

For prep, I did some initial light trimming to get rid of too much fat on the surface. I typically use just a simple rub that I make myself. However, this time I went with a three-layered rub approach. I started with some Crystal Hot Sauce as a binder to make it easier for the rub to stick. Then, since my sweetheart got me some awesome Meat Church Holy Cow rub for Father’s Day, I really wanted to try that out. I started with the Holy Cow rub. That was followed by a layer of my own 50/50 mixture of coarse sea salt and 16-mesh black pepper. And then my last layer was a heavy dose of straight-up black pepper. It still didn’t look nearly as heavily peppered as the incredible beef ribs at Louie Mueller’s in Taylor. That all sat for about 30 minutes and then went on my Traeger Texas Elite 34 pellet grill. This time around I used some B&B Championship Blend pellets, which contain oak, cherry and pecan. I really like this blend. I set the pit for 275°F and put the slab on. I threw in my pellet tube to get some extra smoke in there. After two hours, I began spraying it with water once an hour. I chose not to wrap, as I really wanted to get a heavy bark. I started probing it with my ThermaPen Mk4 when I sprayed it as well to check for consistency. I was not really looking for an internal temperature for these beef ribs. It’s really all about how easily the probe slides through the first and second membranes. At about six hours the probe felt like it was sliding through soft butter. So I knew the ribs were done. I pulled them and wrapped them in foil to let them rest for an hour or so.

I was very pleased with the result. The bark was exceptional for a pellet grill. When I sliced them, the beef ribs had a great smoke ring. And the fat was pretty well rendered. There was one spot in the ribs that was very fatty where there could/should have been meat. Lesson learned – I need to be very choosy in selecting my plate ribs. Even so, the smoky flavor was outstanding and the meat was so moist. I’m sure that had I used ribs from outstanding places like 44 Farms, Creekstone Farms or Snake River Farms, I would likely have had a better outcome. At the end of the day, I was very happy with the outcome even so.

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