On a tight budget? Beef back ribs might be the way to go for you. These inexpensive ribs can be a real bargain if you now how to choose the right ones. And don't let the low price fool you. When cooked right, beef ribs are tender and flavorful, and always a good choice for barbecuing.
A full rack should have seven ribs. Beef back ribs are cut from the top end of the rib cage, next to the backbone. The connective tissue between the ribs is tough if not cooked long enough. But when cooked right, these ribs are great!
It's important to be choosy when picking up beef ribs at the meat counter. Look closely at each slab, and you'll see that most of them have been stripped of a lot of the meat. You'll see that it's been removed from between the rib bones.
Pick a slab that has plenty of meat left on it if you can find one. If not, talk to the butcher and ask if he can set you up with meatier ribs. You may have better luck getting good ribs at a butcher shop rather than the local discount grocery store.
All ribs have a rubbery membrane on the bone side of the slab, which is called the "fell". If you want truly great ribs, remove this membrane, and scrape off the excess fat that hides underneath. If left on, the fell prevents marinade and dry rub flavors from getting into the meat, not to mention that it's pretty tough and chewy.
Removing the fell is as easy as slipping a dull butter knife under it, between two ribs. Pry it up a little, then grab it and pull it off, using a paper towel for better grip if needed. After the membrane and fat is removed, it's time to add some flavor.
Seasoning The Ribs
Before hitting the barbecue, beef back ribs can be seasoned with a spicy dry rub or marinated. If you can plan ahead, let the ribs marinate or rest coated with dry rub overnight in the fridge. The spice flavors will penetrate the meat as it rests.
Dry rubs contain a mixture of spices, herbs, sugar and salt. They can be hot and spicy, or mild and mellow. Onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, paprika, cumin, and garlic powder are a few of the spices commonly included in beef back rib dry rubs.
A marinade usually contains some type of acidic liquid as a base...vinegar, citrus juice, wine and even Coca Cola are commonly used in marinades. Herbs, spices and even vegetables are added for more flavor.
The connective tissue in back ribs can require a lot of time to break down. And when it melts, it adds a lot of great flavor and juiciness to the ribs.
When barbecuing beef ribs in a gas or charcoal grill, use the indirect grilling method. Try to keep the heat at a medium level, between 250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Rotate and turn them occasionally as they cook. It doesn't hurt to baste the ribs with mopping sauce a few times along the way, either.
To speed up the cooking process, wrap the ribs in foil after one and one-half to two hours of barbecuing. Place 'em back in the grill for another one to two hours, then check them for tenderness.
Remove the beef back ribs from the foil and coat them with your favorite homemade barbecue sauce. Continue cooking over low indirect heat until the sauce thickens. Remove from the grill, and let the feast begin!
Depending on the size and meatiness of the ribs, figure on serving two
or three ribs per person. One good sized slab can feed one or two big
eaters, or three or four lightweights.
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