The four partners from the London BBQ restaurant Pitt Cue Co. are serious about their meat. In the new (to the U.S.) Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook, they strongly encourage home cooks to get serious, too, and for these outstanding beef ribs, they stress, "The quality of the beef here is everything". I tried to get high-quality meat, but I can't say it was the rare-breed, dry-aged beef that they extol. Nonetheless, this recipe turned out unctuous, crazy flavorful ribs. It is one of the simpler preparations in the book, requiring only the ribs and the house rub; sauce is optional and unnecessary. The rub—smoky, spicy and sweet—shows up in many of their recipes, including tomorrow's smoked roast chicken, which is good, because you end up with a lot of it. (Actually, I rubbed it over a pile of chicken wings to stretch the meal for a crowd, and lordy, they were good!) And they suggest serving these ribs with some of those dynamite pickled shiitakes that I raved about yesterday. This is a great example of how you kind of have to commit to the book as a whole, because so many of the recipes interconnect and share components.
Why I picked this recipe: Um, do you see the picture? I wanted to eat that. Also, it had minimal elements and *only* took 6 hours. And because I'm not super-skilled at the grill, I liked that they said the ribs could live through some fluctuation in temperature.
What worked: The rub was delicious. Want to rub it on everything. The fatty ribs responded so well to the long smoking, and the flavor of the two together was intense and worthwhile.
What didn't: Maybe it was the particular cut of ribs, or perhaps my grill temp dipped too low at times (I kept peeking), but the ribs could have used a little longer. They were not as tender as they could have been had the collagen in the meat been given more time to break down into gelatin (see, I learned things!). But they do say that the cooking times are very loose guides, so I'll take the fall on this one.
Suggested tweaks: If you're not terribly handy with a butcher's knife, when you buy your ribs, see if the butcher will take off the membrane for you. It really was a bit of a pain to remove, as they do forewarn. And make one of the sauces that they suggest, or buy your favorite bottle, but know that the ribs are perfectly delicious all on their own.
- Yield:Serves 2
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:5 to 6 hours
- One 4- to 6-bone beef rib rack, weighing 1 pound 2 ounces to 1 pound 5 ounces
- 1/3 cup House Rub
- Mother Sauce or Pitt Cue Barbecue Sauce, (optional)
Crucial to the eating of the beef rib is the removal of the membrane on the underside, especially with a well-aged rib. Unlike the pork rib membrane, which is fresh and thin, the membrane on the underside of the beef rib is thick and a bit of a pain. To remove it, score down each side of the individual bones, being careful not to cut into the flesh. Get a proper butcher’s knife with some flexibility and work up the rib, removing the membrane with as little flesh as possible. Try to keep the knife as flat as you can to the flesh, just skinning the membrane from it. The removed membrane should be about 3/4 inch wide and run the entire length of each rib. All that will remain is a small section of membrane on the rib bone itself, which is a fair compromise.
Cover the rack all over with the rub. Prepare a barbecue for smoking and set the temperature to 230°F, though anything up to 265°F will produce tasty beef ribs.
There is a huge amount of fat running through the intercostal muscles of the beef rib, which can take a bit of a battering through temperature rises without drying out: 230°F is ideal, but don’t panic if the barbecue peaks and dips in temperature.
Smoke the rack for 5 to 6 hours, or until the meat has pulled back from the bone. By then the rack will have the French trim effect, with the bone a little bit exposed. The internal temperature should be about 192° to 197°F, the meat squishy and soft with a thick dark crust. We like the ribs naked, but if you prefer them with sauce, give them a good basting with Mother Sauce or barbecue sauce 30 minutes before removing them. Alternatively adjust the barbecue for direct grilling and paint them constantly with the sauce while turning them over the heat.
The smell of a newly smoked beef rib is unbelievable. Serve immediately, with some Pickled Shiitake to boost that amazing umami beefiness while balancing the richness.