Beef Short Ribs

This is my second attempt at beef short ribs. The last batch was tasty, but not as falling-apart tender as I would have liked. This time I wanted the great smoky flavor, but I also wanted to move more in the direction of classic Italian braised short ribs – less barbecue and more red wine.

Thankfully, She Cooks He Cleans has a great braised short rib recipe that I thought would adapt nicely for the Big Green Egg.

4 beef short ribs
1-2 tablespoons Dizzy Pig Cow Lick Rub
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
2 cups red wine
2-4 cups water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups beef stock

I seasoned the ribs with the rub and then set the grill up for an indirect cook at 350°F, using the plate setter to diffuse the heat and a little apple wood for smoke.

When the Egg was up to temp, I put a trivet on the plate setter, set a disposable foil pan filled with the wine and 2 cups of water on the trivet, then put the grate on top of the pan and arranged the ribs on top of that.

I smoked the ribs for two hours, then removed the grate and moved the ribs into the drip pan. I added more water until the ribs were halfway covered and let them braise in the pan for an hour.

I then moved the ribs out of the drip pan and back onto the grate over the pan and smoked them for another hour.

By now the meat was starting to fall off the bone but the meat itself wasn’t very tender. Flummoxed, I took the ribs off the grill and moved the cooking inside.

I took the meat off the bones and removed any obvious connective tissue and then put the rib meat into a Dutch oven along with the de-fatted liquid from the drip pan, the balsamic vinegar, and the beef stock. I brought the works to a boil on  the stove top, then reduced it to a simmer, put the lid on, and braised the meat for yet another hour.

I served the ribs with some of the remaining pan sauce ladled over top.

The Verdict: ★★★½☆ Not sure what I’m doing wrong here. The ribs had great beefy/smoky taste, but were still pretty tough and dry. When we get these at our favorite Italian restaurant, they start falling apart if you look at them too hard.

I’ve got one more pack of these left in the freezer, so I’d sure take suggestions on how to do the next batch. Thanks!

The Nutrition: 3 ounces is 11 Weight Watchers points, so they had better be damn tasty. These weren’t worth the calories.

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8 thoughts on “Beef Short Ribs”

  1. I have tried doing short ribs on the egg before, and mine were not tender either. It may be that they just need to be cooked in liquid longer or cooked slower and lower? However, I have smoked the big beef back ribs for 4-5 hours at ~225-250 and they turned out alright.

    My only suggestion is to lower the temperature, and after the initial smoking, keep them in the braising liquid. Good luck – because I would love to see you come up with the solution to doing these on the BGE!

  2. They sure look tasty anyways. What do you think about sealing the drip pan with foil when you start braising the ribs?

  3. Dave, We love your blog and commiserate in your “going gluten-free/watching your weight” comments. With our daughter being celiac and my having to face the music on weight…

    As for the beef ribs issue, we have had great results by searing the ribs on the Egg (which imparts the smoke flavor) and then slow cooking them in “liquid” either in a slow cooker or in a dutch oven (hint: maybe use your new Emil cookeware). Our favorite recipe is one of Wolfgang Puck’s beer braised short ribs (which we now can’t do exactly due to the celiac issue). His recipe calls for browning in a dutch oven and either finishing them in a slow cooker or in the oven. I have started using inexpensive red wine in the recipe and the results are almost as good. Having just seen a gluten-free beer at Kroger, I might just buy it at our next round…

    Think back to your “quick” baby back ribs: You “smoked” them and then wrapped them in foil so that the heat and moisture cooked them to the tender, fall off the bone. (We followed your directions and our results were fabulous! Thanks!!!) Although this should work with beef ribs, remember that beef ribs by their nature have more mass (meat) and less fat (less moisture); thus, should require more moisture and heat to get to the fall off the bone stage. If you try this method, I would put extra liquid into the packet (wine, water, broth, gluten-free beer). Since you have the Emil cookware, why bother? Just “sear” the ribs to get the smoke flavor and then braise them.

    1. Thanks all! I knew I had some smart readers out there! What everybody seems to be saying is that adding more moisture is probably the key. I did notice that while the ribs were fatty, they weren’t marbled. The fat and the meat were in different layers, so when the fat rendered out it didn’t render into the meat. Fat is moisture, so next time I’ll cut back on the smoking time and either finish them in a sealed drip pan of move it all to a Dutch oven. While let you know how they go. Thanks again!

  4. Ironically I’ve been reading McGee’s On Food and Cooking and also took a class on braising at Rouxbe Online Cooking School. My first thought is the initial cook is too high at 350f. it’s going to cause the connective tissue to tighten up and squeeze moisture out of the meat. Also, as soon as the meat gets over 105f internal, the two enzymes that break down the connective tissue quit working. I’d go with a lower, slower roast and then braise. Also, during the braise, don’t let the liquid boil. That’s too hot for slow cooking and it will emulsify the sauce before you need to.

    It’s not just “book smarts” theory. I learned from experience this week when doing my first try at my Rouxbe homework trying to do a “fire braise”, my temps got away from me and my stew beef ended up tough too! Hopefully my second attempt will be better, ha ha. I’m going to do….you guessed it, beef short ribs.

  5. Thanks Chris! Yeah, I pretty much dried out the meat before the moisture had a chance to make it tender. I’ve added McGee’s book to my reading list. Wish me better luck next time.

  6. I would lower the temp to 225. After you think they have enough smoke I would wrap in foil with some seasoned liquid to finish cooking. Short ribs have tons of flavor.

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