Beef Ribs

Seems that when beef ribs are mentioned there is a flurry of comments so I thought I would put something out there for folks to give their insight/experience.

Pork ribs probably out sell beef ribs 10:1 but for that rich fatty flavor similar to the deckle (cap) on a prime rib roast, nothing beats a beef rib. The 3 basic cuts I have seen are, (Back ribs NAMP 124) , (Plate short ribs NAMP 123) & (Chuck short ribs NAMP 130).

I am not a fan of Chuck so the 130’s are out for me. I have had the Plate 123’s which are extremely meaty but IMHO a little chewier.

My favorite are the Back 124’s. These are the 7 bones on a whole standing rib roast. 90% of the meat is between the bones and there is not a whole lot of it but it is outrageously fatty and rich. I season them with salt, pep, garlic powder and a little paprika & in the smoker with lump charcoal they go. After about an inch of pull up on the bones they are done. So moist, so rich & delicious. The king of meat IMHO.

What is your favorite cut & how do you cook them?

PS: H/O, maybe we need a barbecue category?


The plate ribs I was referring to in the other topic are not “short” in length. They’re at least 12" long. Besides on that TV show, the only place I see them locally is on the menu at Claim Jumper restaurants.

I bought a pack of choice plate ribs from Rest Depot a while back and if memory serves me correctly they were a good 10 inched long or more. I think there were about 6 - 8 ribs in the factory cryovac, double stacked. The pack was pretty darn heavy and @ about $4 pound it came out to about $40.

They were extremely meaty with one rib making a meal for one good eating adult. I low slow smoked them for a good 4 - 5 hrs and they were very tasty but a little chewy.

Per my last exposure to Restaurant Depot (SoCal) a trade membership and re-sale permit were required.

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Tax exempt ID such as churches, schools & fraternal organizations will also work as well as business tax ID numbers.

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Those are my favorite beef ribs too. Though I don’t buy them often because they are usually sold with the finger meat (bit in-between the ribs) removed.

I think when they bone-out a 109 at the big pack houses they must use a machine with a “v” shaped blade that slides between the ribs because it does seem like there is a scant amount of meat left.

I am lucky because I have a friend who owns a high end beef purveyor business who still bones out 109’s by hand and he slides the knife over the top of the bones with great efficiency but leaves the meat between the bones.

Maybe for .50 cents a lb more a local butcher could hook you up.

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I bet if I tied a big old smoked back rib on the line of a surf pole and cast it up toward N. Jersey I would hook an old JR. Wrap it in a pair of panties & I might even snag me an MZ.


You are correct. Usually the Export market gets what the Export market wants.

Touche, my friend. Just make sure to have a slightly eastward tilt to your cast.

Besides, this is such a delicious topic, all I needed was a whiff of the meat in the air to start sniffing around. I guess my favorite beef back ribs prep is to merely rub 'em with salt, pepper, a little ground chile, and a little turbinado sugar before a few hours on the offset. I like oak wood for fuel for all beef cooks, but walnut or fruit woods work just fine. Although I serve with sauce, I don’t apply any to the ribs while cooking. I’ve experimented with various mop sauces over time and like the hint of extra flavor I’ll get from bringing some bourbon and butter just to a boil.

Popping a few beef ribs into a low - 250ish - oven is a great way to have a tasty treat without any real effort. The kind of thing you can leave while re-caulking the tub or other such household repair-chores. Then, POOF! instant meaty-manly lunch reward right there for the taking. A 325 oven works great when there’re fewer projects to attend. When you think about it, they’re really quite forgiving at low temps - pretty much only need a smell test to recognize that it’s OK to eat (this also makes 'em a solid choice to prep when inebriation is slated to be the first course).

Another use, for me, is in making tomato sauces. Basically, just roast the ribs for an hour to get a little brownness and plop a couple into a big pot of simmering marinara. A few hours later, the meat has lent some deep-bass bottom notes to the sauce and the chef has a treat to gnaw while asking for patience from the rest of the household clamoring for dinner.

Moreover, there’s the bonus of the low prices at supermarkets around the Christmas and Easter Holiday sales. Most of our local shops will package them - both racks and individuals - for a steal. At a buck nineteen or so, I feel it almost an ethical obligation to stock up. Apparently, some of the less-culinarily inclined moms around here buy the whole prime ribs but have the butchers remove the bones - and DON’T want them.*

  • It kinda makes you feel for the sad fellows that ponied-up for those fancy diamond rings . . . . Well, at least for the whole two seconds it takes before you start tossing packages of back ribs into your cart.

Mmmmm. Now I have to track some down.

Wow I never see them that cheap. The meat counter at the most “hood” of the big grocery stores nearby sells racks of largely de-meated beef ribs pretty cheap but not that cheap. They don’t have much meat on them but they pack a lot of flavor in.

That butter/bourbon sauce sounds good and I always have both.

The indoor oven cooking would also make the house smell good :grinning:

I place a row of firebricks on the cooking grate of the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking. I then use a cheap wire rack to hold them vertically, thick end up, thin end down. I leave the membrane on which keeps the fat from dripping out the back side of the ribs. About 1 inch pull up the bones and their done.

Have used wood but always seem to come back to the lump charcoal because its never overpowering.

You can’t go wrong @ $1.19 lb. I will have to keep an eye out this X-mas. Will load up, wrap well & freeze at that price. I guess there is a reason for buying a boneless rib roast but I can’t think of one!

Have you tried Esposito’s on 9th ST ?

not for this specifically but I do shop there on occassion - they had short ribs on sale for under $4/LB the other day I will keep an eye out thanks

So, Tom34, I’ve been thinking about beef ribs lately as well. Can I ask about how long it takes for the Back 124’s to get to the inch of pull up, and are they really chewy? Thanks.

If I bring them out of the fridge for an hour or so and then put them in the Big Green Egg at 250 degrees it takes around 3 hours. An old timer once told me that when the ribs wiggle when given a little shake they are done. I have found this to be very accurate.

One other thing I have found with both pork & beef ribs is that the meat is a little thicker at one end of the rack. I usually cut the rack of ribs in 1/2 to make them fit in the wire rack better and I will often pull the ones with less meat a little sooner.

When the 124 beef back ribs are slow cooked & the fat renders they are extremely tender. Never had a chew issue.

The few times I did the super meaty 123 plate ribs the outside 1/4 inch of meat was a little chewy. Once I got into the meat closer to the bones where there were layers of fat the chew mostly went away.

Thanks, Tom34. That’s helpful. I’ll give them a try in my charcoal smoker on a day that isn’t too cold here in the Boston area. Yum.

As I suggested above, bear, these fellows are forgiving. Adjusting the temp slightly up or down will allow you to shorten or lengthen the cook time to fit your timeline. I find this fact especially appealing as the weather changes and maintaining a constant temperature on the offset becomes more difficult. Plus, you never know when the 1 o’clock game may go into OT.

Also, if you decide to apply a mop, do so in the last hour and, as you likely know, add a bit to the cook time to account for the opening and closing of the smoker lid.

Very helpful, MZ. Thanks for the tips.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo