It seems that thick beef short ribs are wildly en vogue for those with smokers and in this ‘Good Eats’ post, I’d like to make the case for the less often talked about, center cut beef back ribs, as I find them to be so excellent tasting and they can be quite a bit cheaper, especially when buying several racks to feed family and friends.
Years ago, I was in our local Publix grocery store and found center cut beef back ribs packaged in large individual racks. They were on sale, and depending on their weight, were priced at $6.00 to $8.00 a rack. I was unfamiliar with smoking beef ribs but thought that they would be worth a try.
From that first time until now, I keep this recipe as simple as possible as beef ribs have a lot of flavor all on their own. The real trick is to give them enough time in the smoker to fully break down all that connective tissue so that the bones more or less pull out of the meat with barely a tug.
Just remember with smoked center cut beef back ribs…low and slow, low and slow. Keep repeating that until you’re sure that they are done, since if you rush them or pull too early, you’ll end up disappointed.
To prep your grill, get it to 225 degrees and let it fully warm up inside. Then, place the racks of ribs on the grates, close the lid, and try not to open it at all if possible. Placing a meat probe in one of the ribs will give you a good idea where you’re at throughout the smoking process.
In the past I’ve used a charcoal grill using an offset heat technique and more recently have started doing these in our Traeger PRO 575. The offset heat technique can work great but you need to be aware and control your heat to 225 degrees for hours while with the Traeger, I’m able to set it at 225 degrees and it’ll maintain (with a few degrees up and down) throughout the smoking process. It’s also nice to be able to keep track of everything on my iPhone with the WiFIRE app on where I’m at with the pellet level and meat probe temperature too. You can set a timer and there is a lot of functionality of the app while includes temperature presets (Traeger’s or program your own) and smoke cycles that you can use as well. Admittedly, it’s pretty fancy.
No matter how you smoke these, the over process is overall pretty easy. Get your grill to 225 degrees and continue to smoke (for what will seem like hours and hours) until you hit an internal temperature of 205 degrees.
With this batch, I ended up wrapping them tightly in butcher paper near the end which finally got them the desired temperature. I pulled them from the Traeger and immediately put them into a YETI Hopper 18 cooler to let sit for another hour or so. When unwrapped from the paper, they fell apart and were just wonderful.
Though the center cut beef back ribs might not be as visually beautiful to the eye as the thicker beef short ribs that you see cut with a knife and dripping, I prefer the finish and taste of these. Maybe it’s also that I don’t like paying upwards of $40 (or more) for a short rack of ribs when I can buy several racks for the same price of the center cut back ribs. Call me thrifty…
Speaking of saving money, if you can find them at your local grocery store or butcher shop, look for when ribeye steaks go on sale as the center cut beef back ribs are usually in excess supply and usually on sale as well.
Lastly, if you’ve been seriously considering the purchase of a Traeger, send me an email. I should be getting another batch of promo codes soon which makes pulling the trigger a little easier on the piggy bank.