Updated: Feb 24, 2022
July 3, 2020
Ribs are delightfully messy. No matter how hard I try I can't seem to eat them without getting sauce all over my fingers and on my cheeks (and occasionally, on my nose)! First time I cooked beef ribs I had no idea it was any different than cooking pork ribs. They were tough. Tasty, but really, really tough. We had a lot of fun eating them. My daughter, who was barely three at the time, set upon them with gusto, growling like a little wolf cub and shook her head from side to side as she wrestled each mouthful from its hold on the bone.
Since then I have learned a lot more about cooking beef ribs, The great thing about ribs is that they really aren't complicated. They require more time than pork ribs, so planning ahead is essential, but the rich, intensely beefy flavor is so worth the wait! So break out your favorite barbecue sauce and get ready for amazing ribs... tomorrow!
That's right. Like I said, they take time. But they are well worth the wait. Beef ribs need low, slow, dry heat. And then they need a long resting period. Now you may wonder why I don't use the sous vide I so highly praised in my last email. Two words: connective tissue. Ribs have a lot of connective tissue that is tough when it isn't broken down, but which lends incredible flavor and tenderness when it does. The wet heat of a sous vide does not break down the connective tissue as well as dry heat. Dry heat "melts" these inedibly tough bits and uses them to baste your ribs with even more rich flavor as it adds to the tenderness of the meat.
In the above picture you can see an assortment of ribs I prepared last week.
The ones on the left and in the center were in the sous vide overnight - one in a marinade and one vacuum-sealed with only seasoned salt in the bag. The three on the right were wrapped in foil and put in a 200*F oven. We sampled them and found concentrated flavor and a texture that was firm, yet tender and no evidence of any connective tissue remaining. The sous vide ribs were still tough and there was still a lot of tough tissue to navigate. After a quick sampling, we tossed the sous vide ribs into a foil wrapper and put them back into the oven!
So... here's the simple way to have superb beef ribs: I like to start my ribs just before bedtime and put them in a 200*F oven, wrapped in foil. Whatever moisture is in the ribs themselves is all they get. The foil makes sure that doesn't escape. Leave the ribs in the oven, on 200*F overnight (8 hours or so) Don't worry about over cooking. The low heat, like a crock pot, leaves lots of wiggle room for "when" they need to come out of the oven. Remove the ribs from the oven, cool down and transfer to the refrigerator to "rest" at least a few hours. An hour before serving the ribs, heat at 250*F for 40 minutes. Unwrap, baste with your favorite sauce and continue heating, uncovered for another 20 minutes. Enjoy (and don't forget the napkins!)