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Beef Back Ribs - Lone Star Long Ribs

Originally posted: 6/11/2012
Last updated: 02/21/2014

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Summary

  • Select meaty slabs of beef back ribs (beef long ribs) with good meat coverage over and between the bones.
  • A full slab will have 7-8 bones.
  • Remove the membrane from the bone side of the slab, as you would with pork ribs.
  • Smoke at 250-275°F for 4-5 hours or until tender. Basting with beer is optional
  • When the ribs are done, brush lightly with your favorite barbecue sauce before serving.
Beef back ribs rubbed and ready for the WSM
Beef back ribs rubbed and ready for the WSM
Beef back ribs with dark, crusty exterior
Beef back ribs with dark, crusty exterior
 

There's nothing more satisfying than beef back ribs! Find yourself some meaty ones, apply a simple, no-nonsense rub, smoke 'em "low & slow" over oak and hickory wood, and watch your friends and family devour them faster than you can say, "Pass me another beer!"

I made a special effort to find big, meaty, beef back "long ribs" at a restaurant supply store. If you can't find them, just substitute with the smaller back ribs you find at better supermarkets. But make sure to get the ones with lots of meat on the bones—not the ones where the meat's been carved-out from between all the bones.

Here are some photos I took on March 15, 2010 when I barbecued these long bone beef back ribs.

As always...click on any of the pictures to view a larger image.


Choosing And Prepping Beef Back Ribs

Three slabs of beef back ribs in Cryovac packaging
Photo 1
       

Beef back ribs correspond to loin back ribs on a pig, but of course they're much larger in size. The extremely tender rib roast sits right on top of the back ribs, so you know these suckers are going to be tender and delicious if prepped and cooked properly.

For this cook, I wanted big, meaty, beef back "long ribs". I found them at Restaurant Depot, a members-only restaurant supply store. (If you have a Restaurant Depot or similar store near you, ask at the front desk if you can have a free one-day pass.) Photo 1 shows 3 slabs of ribs in Cryovac packaging weighing 11.92 pounds.

Examine beef back ribs carefully before purchasing them. Look for meaty slabs with good meat coverage over and between the bones. We've all seen stores selling slabs in which the meat has literally been carved out from between the bones—don't buy those ribs. Also, count the number of bones. A full slab of beef back ribs will contain 7-8 bones.

Prepping beef back ribs is about the same as prepping pork ribs. Remove the membrane from the bone side using a butter knife and paper towel, as described in the Pork Loin Back Rib Preparation article. The membrane on beef ribs is much thicker and may put up more of a fight than on pork ribs, but the process is the same.

After removing the membrane, scrape away any large areas of fat on the bones, then flip the slab over and trim away any large areas of fat from the meat side. You don't have to be too fussy, just trim away what makes sense to you.

The last step is to figure out how you're going to fit these monsters into the cooker. These ribs are not as long as a full slab of pork loin back ribs, but much wider and with much thicker bones, which makes fitting them into a rib rack difficult. They also don't like to roll into a circle like pork ribs do.

I was able to fit the smallest slab on the bottom cooking grate, but had to trim off 2 of the longest bones from the larger slabs. Those trimmings went on the bottom cooking grate, and the other 2 slabs went into a rib rack on the top cooking grate, as shown in the photos further down this page.

Rubbing The Ribs

Beef back ribs rubbed and ready for the WSM
Photo 2
       

Author Steven Raichlen likes ribs so much, he wrote an entire book about them! For these beef back ribs, I used his "Lone Star Rib Rub" recipe from Raichlen on Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs.

Lone Star Rib Rub
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
3 Tablespoons pure chile powder
1 Tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Examples of pure chile powder include chipotle and ancho. I used ancho for these ribs.

Apply a heavy dose of rub to both sides of each slab (Photo 2).

Let the ribs sit at room temperature while you fire-up the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker.

Using The Minion Method

Lighting 40 briquettes in an upside down Weber chimney starter
Photo 3
Oak and hickory wood chunks
Photo 4
Wood chunks spread over hot coals
Photo 5
1 slab of ribs plus trimmings on the bottom cooking grate
Photo 6
2 slabs of ribs on the top cooking grate
Photo 7

Fire-up the Weber Bullet using the Minion Method—fill the charcoal chamber about 1/2 full with unlit Kingsford Charcoal Briquets and then spread about 30-40 hot coals over the unlit ones. I used an upside-down Weber chimney starter to light the 40 briquettes shown in Photo 3.

Place a few chunks of your favorite smoke wood on the hot coals. I used 2 chunks of oak and 4 small chunks of hickory (Photo 4).

Assemble the cooker with the water pan in place and fill it with cool water.

Arrange the ribs on the top and bottom cooking grates (Photos 6-7) and put the lid on the cooker.

Set the top vent to 100% open and leave it that way throughout the entire cooking process. Start with all 3 bottom vents 100% open. As the cooker approaches 250°F, begin to partially close all 3 bottom vents to maintain 250-275°F. Adjust the bottom vents as needed to maintain this temperature range throughout the cooking process.

Details Of The Cook

Beef back ribs cooking in the WSM
Photo 8
       

Barbecue the beef back ribs at 250-275°F for 4-5 hours or until tender. Start testing for tenderness at the 4 hour mark. Replenish the water pan with hot tap water during the cook, as you feel necessary.

If you want to spritz the ribs with beer a few times, feel free to do so, starting halfway through the cooking process. That's what the bottle of Lone Star beer was for in the background of Photo 2!

Here's how the cooker temperature went during my 4-hour cook:

Time Lid Temp Vent 1 % Vent 2 % Vent 3 %
3:30pm - 100 100 100
4:00pm 198 100 100 100
4:45pm 205 100 100 100
5:20pm 224 100 100 100
5:45pm(b) 267 100 100 100
6:00pm 275 75 75 75
6:15pm 273 75 75 75
7:00pm(b) 276 50 50 50
7:30pm 282 50 50 50
(b) sprayed ribs with beer

Note that the vent percentages represent the way I set the vents at the time indicated.

Bodacious Beef Bones

Beef long ribs after cooking
Photo 9
Close-up of ribs, brushed with sauce
Photo 10
Close-up of smoke ring
Photo 11
   

After cooking for 4 hours, I checked the ribs for tenderness by pulling on two adjacent bones. The meat offered just a little resistance before tearing easily, so I knew they were done.

The ribs came out of the cooker (Photo 9) and I basted them with just a little bit of barbecue sauce (Photo 10).

I wrote in my cooking log, "Really dark, almost black in color. Good tenderness and smoke ring (Photo 11). Rich flavor, almost like eating prime rib."

If you can find beef long bones, give them a try. You'll like them!

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