Smoked Beef Back Ribs

How To Smoke Beef Back Ribs

Looking for something inexpensive to smoke this weekend? Check out beef back ribs! These are packed with flavor and come at the fraction of the cost of larger cuts of meat. Here are some simple steps on how to smoke beef back ribs.

How to Prepare Beef Back Ribs

Not only are beef back ribs quite inexpensive, the preparation is minimal.

First, start up your smoker! You’re shooting for a temperature between 235 – 275 degrees Fahrenheit. However, In Aaron Franklin’s book, Franklin’s Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto, he says he cooks them up to 185 F. 

Second,Beef Back Ribs with Salt and Pepper Trim off any silver skin, fat, or extra little pieces that will likely burn. After you’ve trimmed the beef ribs, rub them with olive oil and apply your desired rub. I went with the classic Texas style Kosher Salt and coarse grained pepper.

Smoking the Beef Back Ribs

This process, is again, simple… it just takes quite some time. Because you’re going to want to break down the meat and make the ribs as tender as possible you’re going to have to cook at a low temperature. Which means “low and slow” smoking. Expect them to take about 6 – 8 hours. Trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Smoking Beef Back RibsFor the first few hours you won’t want to bother the beef ribs. After a few hours 3-5 start spritzing them with the liquid of your choice. I used beef broth, but you can really use anything you want. The idea is to make sure the ribs stay moist. It’s also important to make sure you have a water pan underneath your cooking grate as well. This will help keep the meat moist and help prevent drying out.

To wrap or not wrap!? I’ve seen them done both ways. Aaron Franklin doesn’t wrap, but Malcom Reed doesn’t. It’s really up to you!

When the ribs are finished they will reach an internal temperature of about 195 – 203 F. Others will tell you that you can just use the probe of your thermometer to probe the meat, if the probe goes in smoothly like it’s going into butter, than they are finished. Feel free to use this method as well, I used a mixture of both. When it got to temperature I probed the ribs to make sure they were tender.

The Finished Product

Once the ribs are finished, let them rest for about thirty minutes and then slice and serve! Beef back ribs are packed with flavor, you won’t regret trying this out!

Smoked Beef Back Ribs Slicing the Beef Back Ribs
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Ugly Drum Smoker

Controlling your Smoker’s Temperature

Great BBQ is dependent on number of different things ranging from the amount of smoke to your entire cooking process. None of this is possible, however, without being able to control the temperature of your smoker!

Temperature Control Simplified

I don’t dare pretend to be a scientific experiment on smoking, but let me try and break down temperature control for you as simply as I can!

It all basically comes down to your air intake and exhaust; on smokers these are called dampers. The intake damper will be at the bottom of your smoker, the exhaust damper towards the top or chimney. Proper temperature control in your smoker will depend on your ability to let air flow through these dampers.

Like any fire, the more oxygen it gets to feed it the hotter it will get. The same with the smoker, when you open the intake and exhaust dampers wide open it allows more oxygen into the smoker and therefore makes the fire hotter. Closing them more lessens how much oxygen the fire is getting and therefore maintains or lower temperatures in your fire.

This will take a little time to master with your smoker. Every smoker is different and it takes practice to learn how wide to open the dampers to maintain certain temperatures in our smoker. Helpful tip: when you’re starting your smoker, open the dampers all the way and let the smoker rise in temperature. When it gets to your desire temperature close the dampers a little bit to lessen the oxygen flow and maintain the desired temperature.

For more in depth information check out Amazing Rib’s info on Temperature control.

Temperature Control Even More Simplified

Controlling your intake and exhaust dampers seems pretty simple in theory, and it can be when you get to know your smoker, but there is even a more simplified way to control your temperature! The answer: Temperature Controllers.

A temperature controller, simply explained, is a thermometer/controller that has a probe to measure your smoker’s air temperature and fan that is aimed at your fire/ charcoal. When the probe is reading temperatures lower than what you set it for, it will communicate with the fan to blow air into your fire. This will provide more oxygen to your fire, hence raising the temperature. When the air probe reads that the temperature is back within the desired setting the fan will stop blowing.

Temperature controllers are great because you can leave your smoker and not have to worry about what’s going on. These controllers will keep your smoker going for hours without you having to worry about it.

The Temperature Controller I Chose

When I built my smoker I already had in mind that I would get a temperature controller. I went with the BBQ GURU DIGIQ DX2 temperature controller. BBQ Guru makes some pretty decent build and simple temperature controllers. Like I said these are great for making sure your smoker doesn’t go out of the desired temperature. They are a little pricey, but if the peace-of-mind of knowing your smoker is within your set temperature, than the price is worth it! Check out my BBQ GURU DIGIQ DX2 Review video to see my extended thoughts on it!

 

Three go-to barbecue knives

The Three Barbecue Knives

Any great barbecuer has their absolute favorite go-to knives.  Having the right barbecue knife enables you to make large cuts around and through bones, accurately trim fat, and slice your finished product without ruining your hard-earned bark. My go-to barbecue knives come down to three knives: A classic chef’s knife, slicing knife, and a boning knife.

The Classic: Chef’s knife

When it comes to a chef’s knife for barbecue I don’t have a real preference. I don’t rely on it for most of the work and as long as it’s sharp it seems to work fine. I mostly use my chef’s knife for making large cuts though the meat. It’s my go-to knife for separating rib tips from the St. Louis cut pork ribs. My Chef’s knife came from the knife set that my wife and I received as a gift. However, if you’re looking to buy a great chef’s knife America’s Test Kitchen recommends the 8″ Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife.

The Work Horse: Boning Knife

When it comes to finding a quality barbecue boning knife, take the time and find one that is high quality and that you like! This will become your work horse, as you will use it to most of the trimming of any of your cuts. It’s thin and is just slightly flexible so that you can trim thin layers of silver skin or fat without butchering the meat.

For my boning knife I took the advice from America’s Test Kitchen and went with the 6″ Fibrox Pro Boning Knife with flexible Blade. I ordered mine from Amazon and have loved it since! The handle is a little bit thicker, but the material of the plastic is a huge plus! Last thing you want is a knife to slip out of your hand. Like I said, this knife is my work horse and I’d use it everyday if I had a piece of meat to cut!

The Favorite: The Slicing Knife

The slicing knife is probably my favorite barbecue knives. These things are thin and sharp. Mine will slice through rib meat like it’s butter. Not only is this great for preserving the hard-earned bark you’ve been spending hours on, it also makes for a great show for your guests. Nothing says pro like pulling out a 12 inch knife and slicing through a piece of meat like it’s butter. The show will leave your guests wowed and your slices of meat flawless.

Mine is yet a again another America’s Test Kitchen recommendation, the 12 inch Victorinox Fibrox Pro Slicing knife. I paid $54.99 for mine, however, I just looked on Amazon and it’s $63.48. I’ll tell you what though, I think it’s well worth the price you pay. Not only is it a quality knife, it helps you produce a quality product. Another great feature is the Granton blade. These are little divots on the edge of the blade, these divots help prevent the meat from sticking to your blade so that when you slice a piece of meat, slice falls off to the side.

My Parting Thought on Barbecue Knives

As you start your hopefully prosperous journey with barbecuing, you’ll notice that you will want to start to get the best gear. My advice, let it happen! Obviously don’t go blowing you’re whole pay check on barbecue knives and other barbecue tools, but I would say buy quality. You get what you pay for. If you buy one of these barbecue knives and you take care of it, it will last you years!

 

Cooked Spare Ribs

Pork Ribs: Why I Cook Spare Ribs

Ribs, Ribs, Ribs!

I was never a ribs kind of guy… until I started cooking them myself. Now all I can think about is the next time I’m going to smoke some pork ribs. Pork ribs, in my opinion, are the candy of BBQ. This is because the bite-to-bark ratio is INSANE! Every bite, you not only get to sink your teeth into some soft tender pork meat, but you also get an explosion of flavor from the bark you just spent hours creating. Every bite makes you proud of what you just did.

My Introduction to Spare Ribs

Most people have heard of Baby Back ribs. In fact, it’s almost become a bbq buzzword for restaurant chains. I came across spare ribs in more of a happen Raw Spare Ribsstance kind of way. My first cook on my Ugly Drum Smoker was a pork butt. I heard that pork butts were one of the more forgiving cuts of meat and a good starting point. After my first couple a pork butts I decided to branch out. This is when I came across Malcom Reed’s Recipe for Spare Ribs. It was the first video I watched and so it became the guide that I would follow.

The ribs turned out delicious! I was actually surprised. I never liked restaurant ribs, they were either too chewy and/or too smothered in bbq sauce. But, after this first cook I learned that properly cooked pork ribs can be both tender and delicious.

Where on the Pig do Spare Ribs Come From

Amazing Rib’s has a very comprehensive breakdown on the different cuts of pork. Simply put, Spare ribs are located just below the baby back ribs on the ribs. Spare ribs actually compose two different types of cuts: The St. Louis Cut Ribs and Rib Tips. St. Louis Cut What are Spare RibsRibshave more fat than the leaner baby back ribs. Because of this, spare ribs/ St. Louis cut ribs are packed with flavor!

Why I Cook Spare Ribs

So why do I cook pork spare ribs as opposed to baby back ribs or even the St. Louis cut ribs? It all comes down to Value. When I buy a rack of Spare Ribs not only am I getting the St. Louis cut of ribs I’m also getting the Rib Tips. The rib tips are an extra piece of meat and cartilage that are located below the St. Louis Cut. When I cook my spare ribs I cut the rib tips off and cook them along side of the ribs. When they are done cooking I pull them apart and separate the cartilage and the meat. The shredded rib tips make small finger food sized pieces with lots of bark!  For many of the people, for whom I’ve cooked ribs, this has been their favorite part!

Try Cooking Spare Ribs Yourself!

Go ahead. Cook some yourself! I wouldn’t dare try and give you in-depth instructions on how to do this. Luckily, the BBQ community is all about sharing! I would recommend Rib tipswatching Malcom Reed from Killer Hogs bbq team. He has great instructional videos with play-by-play instructions for how to make some great BBQ. He also has a great BBQ blog you should check out!

Below are pictures from the process that I follow. For more in-depth instructions go ahead and follow the link I posted earlier in this post for Malcom Reed’s Spare Ribs recipe. He’ll take you step-by-step through the cook.

How to Cook Spare Ribs – Pictures

Raw Pork Spare Ribs

Get Spare Ribs from your local butcher or grocery store.

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Pat the spare ribs dry

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Separate the rib tips (above) from St. Louis Cut Ribs (Below)

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Remove Membrane and trim any excess fat

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Apply slather to help when applying rub. I used mustard for this cook.

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Apply your rub of choice. This is a homemade combination of spices.

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Make sure to apply rub on both sides and on the edges of spare rib.

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Make sure your pit is up to temperature.

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Place spare ribs bone side down on your pit. Spray with apple juice every 45 Min.

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After three hours, take ribs off the smoker and wrap them in tin foil with butter, brown sugar, and honey on both sides. Make sure to place them back on the smoker meat side down.

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Melted butter, brown sugar, and Honey.

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After about 1 1/2 – 2 Hours (Or when internal temperature of ribs reaches 195) take your ribs out of the tin foil and apply bbq sauce for glaze. Let them sit on the smoker for another 15-30 Minutes.

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Finished Rib Tips. This will be great meat as you shred it and remove the cartilage.

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Finished Spare Ribs!

The Barrel: My Ugly Drum Smoker

Why an ugly drum smoker?First smoke on an Ugly Drum Smoker

It was early in the summer of 2016. I just got married and we were both working internships before our last year of college. We didn’t have a whole lot of money and I needed to find a way to justify putting money into getting a smoker. So, for me, the Ugly Drum Smoker was the best solution. It was something I could make for under $100 and, from what research I had done, it could still hold up as a solid smoker. Long story short, that $90 I spent making that barrel into an ugly drum smoker has supplied me with many hours of good times with family and friends, and not to mention some great BBQ.

Build an ugly drum smoker for under $100 dollars

Yes, making an ugly drum smoker for under $100 is possible, but there is a catch! Mine would have to be reliant on a temperature controller. I suppose it would still be possible to keep it under $100 if you fashioned a way to control the air flow. There are a lot of how-to videos online that are guides to building your own ugly drum smoker and they all give their own solutions to air flow. If you do decide to build your own ugly drum smoker, you’re in control! Choose what you would like to do, explore different options, and see what other people have done. No matter what you decide to do for airflow, you won’t regret you decided to go with an ugly drum smoker after you eat some of the goodness that can come out of it!

Pictures building my ugly drum smoker

Here are some photos of the process I went through to build my own ugly drum smoker. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions!

Burning out the barrel for the ugly drum smoker

Found this barrel for $25 in my local classifieds. First thing I did was burn it out.

Spray painting the ugly drum smoker

I bought some matte black high temp spray paint. It was the cheapest high temp spray paint.

charcoal basket for ugly drum smoker

The Charcoal Basket: small cooking grate with four 4inch bolts (for feet) and expanded metal sheets welded together.

The cooking grate for the ugly drum smoker

I used three 3inch – 3/4″ bolts. spaced them equally around the smoker, ten inches down from the top. These bolts hold up the 22inch weber cooking grate.

Seasoning the ugly drum smoker

Season your Ugly Drum Smoker. I used vegetable oil and wiped down the interior walls. This will help seal up any cracks and create a base layer to help season your ugly drum smoker. This is the last step. You’re ready to get smoking!