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Memphis-Style Barbecue Beef Back Ribs

Hoca

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US Wellness Meats recently asked me to make a recipe for their beef back ribs, and I was happy to oblige (note: don’t ever turn down ribs). Little did I know, I was in for a surprise: this package, which included four racks of ribs, weighed in at SIXTEEN POUNDS of beefy goodness. I immediately knew that I had to call in for backup to give these monsters the attention they deserved.

Enter my friend Jeremy from SeaDog BBQ. SeaDog BBQ is a locally-based Kansas City Barbeque Society competition team, and they’ve done pretty well here in Maryland against some very talented teams. Not only did he come up with an awesome sugar-free barbecue rub recipe to accompany these beef ribs, he brought over his own smoker! While his smoker is from a small, locally-produced source, he did mention that the Weber Smokey Mountain is one of the best introductory smokers that are commercially available. If you don’t own a smoker, never fear – I added tips on how to replicate this recipe using a grill.

Okay, enough with the background, on to the ribs! For this recipe we cooked two of the racks, totaling eight pounds. We opted for a dry, sauceless cooking method, typical of Memphis-style barbecue, with an hour’s braise in the middle to speed up the cooking process and to keep the ribs juicy and full of beefy flavor.

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You’ll Need:
2 racks (1/2 package) of US Wellness Meats beef back ribs (8 lbs)
1/2 cup sugar-free barbecue rub
1 tbsp yellow mustard
2/3 cup red wine
1/2 cup honey
2 cups Paleo barbecue sauce


Remove the two racks from their packaging, and gently rinse with water and pat dry with paper towels.

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Rub the yellow mustard over the tops of the ribs (1/2 tbsp per rack).

One thing that surprised me is that we didn’t season the underside of the ribs at all. In the end, it made sense, both from a culinary standpoint and economically: the well-seasoned tops of the ribs had the overwhelming majority of the meat, and the unseasoned underside’s mild taste was an awesome complement to the tasty top.

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Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the barbecue rub on each rack. Set the ribs aside while we prepare the smoker.

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For the uninitiated (which includes myself), here’s what a smoker looks like on the inside. The bottom section holds the fire, which allows you to regulate the temperature in the top section. If you’re using a grill, this is essentially the same setup as my indirect method of smoking meat, which you can find in recipes like my lemon and dill smoked chicken.

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Add a few handfuls of hardwood charcoal to the bottom element, along with a chunk of hickory and a chunk of applewood. If you’re using a grill, the same effect can be produced using wood chips on the heated side of the grill. Light a fire using lighter cubes and allow it to burn for five minutes before closing the drawer.

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Close everything up and allow the top section to reach and stabilize at 300 degrees. This part could take up to 30 minutes.

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Place the ribs in the smoker/grill on roasting pans or on heavy-duty tin foil, and smoke for two hours.

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After two hours, lay out two large sheets of heavy-duty tin foil and pour 1/4 cup of honey on each sheet in a zig-zag pattern like you see above.

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Place the ribs on top of the honey, top-side down. Curl up the sides of the tin foil, add 1/3 cup of red wine to each rack, and then seal up the ribs in the tin foil.

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Place the covered ribs back into the smoker, and smoke for another hour. After one hour, check for tenderness with a toothpick – the meat should be very tender and give way easily. If it’s still tough, put it back in the smoker and check it every 20-30 minutes.

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Take the ribs out of the tin foil and return to the smoker/grill for another 30 minutes to finish them off.

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Allow the ribs to rest for at least five minutes before cutting them up. Try not to get any drool on them while you wait.

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Using a knife or kitchen shears, separate each rib for maximum presentation and convenience.

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Spoon on some barbecue sauce right before serving, or serve it on the side. That’s it!
 
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