Cook the Book: Barbecue Beef Short Ribs

Cook the Book: Barbecue Beef Short Ribs

"Short ribs are notoriously tough and chewy if not cooked correctly but this hour-long steam makes sure they come out tender."

The words "indirect heat" used to send shivers down my spine. But this weekend, I overcame my fear of barbecue. Grilling up burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and seafood have never been an issue--it's the real-deal barbecue that makes me nervous. I have never bothered with dry rubs, aromatic wood chips, or grilling projects that take more than a half hour. I always figured barbecue should be left to the experts.

But Sunday was as good as any time to conquer my fear. I decided that this recipe for Barbecue Beef Short Ribs from Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book was going to be my first foray into serious barbecue.

Armed with bags of charcoal and hickory chips, I headed to the backyard and set up a little portable grill. Once the coals turned ashy, I added the hickory chips. Unsure exactly how to do this, I consulted the back of the bag. They needed to be soaked for fifteen minutes. Who would have thought? Not me, obviously.

Once the chips were soaked and added to the coals, it was time to cook the meat over indirect heat--er, but first, figure out how to do that. Chis Lilly breaks it down like this: "Situate the coals on only one side of the grill, leaving the other side void." By placing the meat over the side of the grill without coals, you achieve indirect heat and can cook for a longer time at a lower temperature without the risk of charring.

I placed the dry-rubbed short ribs on one side of the grill and sat back and waited. The ribs started cooking and rendering their fat, which dripped onto the coals and caused a troublesome flare-up. I took them off the heat, worried about burning them, but after the fire calmed down, threw them back on the grill. After a pleasant hour and a half of lounging in the grass, I placed the ribs in a foil packet, poured the stock on top, and put the packet back on the grill for an hour. Short ribs are notoriously tough and chewy if not cooked correctly but this hour-long steam makes sure the ribs come out tender.

Once time was up, I peaked inside the foil packet, pulling on the meat with a pair of tongs. Low and behold, they were perfectly cooked--awesomely smokey, peppery, and beefy. I wouldn't go as far as calling myself a pit master but my fear of barbecue vanished. I will certainly be firing up the grill a few more times before the fall.

Win 'Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book'

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book to give away this week.

  • Yield:5


  • 10 beef short ribs cut into individual ribs
  • For the dry rub:
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dries oregano
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • For the stock:
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


  1. 1.

    Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. With a sharp knife, score the top of each rib by cutting 1/4-inch grooves perpendicular to the bone every 1/2 inch. These cuts will provide more surface areas of bark (the flavorful crust).

  2. 2.

    In a small bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients and mix well. Apply a generous coat of the rub to all sides of each rib.

  3. 3.

    Build a fire (wood or combination of charcoal and wood) for indirect cooking by situating the coals on only one side of the grill, leaving the other side void. Place the beef ribs on the cooker (bone side down) away from the coals, close the lid, and cook with indirect heat (approximately 275°F) for 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature of the beef is 160°F.

  4. 4.

    Remove the ribs from the grill and place them in the center of a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, meat side down. In a small bowl, combine the stock mixture and pour it over the ribs. Wrap tightly in foil, trapping the juice inside. Return the foil pack to the grill, close the lid, and cook over indirect heat for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature of the beef reaches 200°F.

  5. 5.

    Remove the foil packet from the grill and let the beef rest in the foil for 15 minutes. Unwrap the ribs and slice each one to the bone at all of the scored cuts. This will create bite-size chunks of meat and allow the juice to penetrate the bark, providing more flavor.