Unsmoked Beef Back Ribs
By Lindsey Cook
So yeah, I got this new gig writing for Fort Thomas Living. I get to buddy up with Colonel De on what to write about.
We got together for our first powwow and geeked out a bit over Julia Child and all the neato ideas we have and things we could do. We talked green strawberries, peach cobbler, farmers markets, mayonnaise, Halloween costumes, cookbooks, archiving recipes, and converting measurements to metric.
It was amazing.
You shoulda been there.
We coulda sold tickets.
But seriously, folks. The Colonel and his chefs want people to cook for themselves. And they want to help you do that. There is a lot of knowledge on that team. They are ready to share. I am a pretty decent home cook, but I am making a list and checking it twice of things with which to pick the chefs’ brain. Not actually pick brains. I have eaten brains, but I don’t want to eat people brains. I am not even sure I want to eat animal brains again, but I tried ‘em. So far, on my list are duck and biscuits. Don’t judge, biscuits are fussy little boogers that don’t like to be touched.
We decided to start on the grill with Beef Back Ribs.
Pork ribs are all over the place around these parts. Beef ones, not so much.
And how can you make them without a smoker and without a lot of fuss. Like, how to do this so peoples will actually do this.
So, the Colonel hooks me up with 3 rubs, 2 of his expert choosing and one of mine, and sends me on my way. Colonel De chose Western Beef Rub and Cowboy Rub. I chose Dukka, an Egyptian spice blend.
I am excited.
This is going to be so much fun. I am totally geeking out over tasting all this stuff. I love food. Flights of fancy floating through my unpicked, untasted, fully-formed-if-not-fully-functioning-thank-you-children brain.
I am pretty sure I have never eaten Beef Back Ribs. I have certainly never made them.
Ok, no big deal. That is already part of the schtick. Try something new, right? Gastronomical and culinary adventuring.
The other part of the schtick is a story.
Alas, another regret. (Edith Piaf playing in the background even though she regretted nothing)
Twenty-five, thirty years ago Findley Market looked different than it does today. But it was every bit as awesome. My mother would drag my brother and me down on the weekends. Who are we kidding? We both went willingly. We loved it. We continued to go together occasionally in our late teens/early twenties without Mom. There was a hot dog cart. The dude sold Polish sausages with peppers and onions swimming in cart grease that were just so good. I got one just about every time I went.
And there is the regret.
There was another dude selling some random cut of smoked beef out of a short, little back alley on the far side of Findlay. The side not on the parking lot side. The Saigon Market side (you should go to Saigon Market). That side looked WAY different over there. It was behind a gate. It was not sanitary. It couldn’t have been. It was questionable in so many ways.
But smelled so delicious. It wafted. It billowed. It enveloped you in sweet, smoky wonderment.
We would talk about getting some smoked meat probably every time we went. Then we would chicken out (ha! Get it?) I would get a Polish sausage with peppers and onions dripping in orange grease and be pretty darn satisfied.
But not all the way smoked meat satisfied.
We never got the smoked meat. The dude is gone now. I looked a very long time later and his smokers were still in the short, little back alley behind a gate. I will have to remember to look for them next time I am there. And maybe cry a little.
If anyone has any experience with back alley smoked meat I would love to know how it was.
In great detail. I will close my eyes and ask you to talk slowly.
And on that note…
How to Not Smoke Beef Back Ribs
• 2 Slabs Beef Back Ribs – or however many will feed your family.
• Your favorite Colonel De rub – Or try something new. Taste one or two before choosing. We had Western Beef Rub, Cowboy Rub, and Dukka. They were all delicious. I found the Western a little sweet for my tastes, but my family, including the kids loved it. The Cowboy Rub had some heat to it, really mingled with the beefiness of the ribs, and married well with the sauce. The Dukka had the most heat and partnered well with the strong beef flavor, it was a more aggressive flavor. I wouldn’t turn down second helpings of any of them.
• Aluminum Foil
What to do:
1) Heat oven to 250 degrees.
2) Generously sprinkle each side of the ribs with the rub. Really massage it in. Don’t be shy, there is a lot of flavor in beef ribs for the rubs to stand up to.
3) Wrap each slab in 2 or 3 layers of aluminum foil, whatever it takes to encase it well. Splitting each slab in half may make this a little easier.
4) Place the wrapped ribs on cookie sheets and pop them in the oven. Let those bad boys slow cook for about 4 hours. After 4 hours pull them out to see how things are going. The meat will shrink back on the rib and the bones should move nicely and easily when wiggled. The bone may just pull right out, that is not a bad thing. If they are not quite wiggle-icious keep them cooking for a bit longer, check every half hour or so.
5) Once the ribs are nice and tender open the packets and increase the heat to 350, cook for another 15-30 minutes. Cooking the ribs in the packets does not form any kind of crust, they will be wet and a little gooey. Opening the packets and increasing the heat dries that outer wetness a bit and gives a little crusty bark to the ribs. If you want to put barbeque sauce on the ribs, this is when you do it.
Remove the ribs and let them rest for 15 minutes. Try not to faint from the heavenly aromas.
• Call your butcher ahead of time to make sure they have beef back ribs. I popped into Avril-Bleh on Saturday to purchase mine to find they do not usually have them. They can get them though, and did.
• I found the beef ribs leaner than pork ribs, clean up was a breeze.
• If you have a smoker, you probably know how to use it and should go buy some beef ribs right now.
• These can absolutely be finished on the grill instead of the oven.
• While these took over 4 hours to cook, I only had my hands on them for about 20 minutes total and that wasn’t even all at once.