When I fire up the WSM I like to let my neighbors know so they can bring things over to smoke because I rarely fill it to capacity. I was surprised by a batch of grass fed beef ribs that showed up last time we did this. With some hesitation, I agreed to smoke them, but I knew they'd be chewy. We all knew it, and they were. The neighbors were pleased with the flavor, and not surprised at the texture, but I still felt kinda bad.
Anyway, that's exactly why I haven't played with beef ribs very much over the years. They've always come out too chewy. But I spied a deal I couldn't pass up a few weeks ago and tried a new recipe with some grocery store short ribs. This recipe from Weber calls for beer braising for about 1.5 hours before smoking on the grill for a half hour to finish. I couldn't believe how good they were! Tender, smoky, and the best part was the BBQ sauce that is made by boiling down the beer braising liquid and adding other BBQ sauce staples. The sauce has a natural beef flavor and was especially great on hamburgers later.
Here's the recipe (I used cherry wood instead of mesquite):
http://www.weber.com/recipes/beef/beer- ... short-ribs
So, that got me wondering if recipe would work as well with the leaner grass fed beef from a favorite local farm. I lucked out and scored some short ribs from my beef/lamb farmer friend the next day at the Farmers Market. Once again, they were delicious. But definitely not as tender as the first time.
So, that got me looking for a recipe that called for a longer braising time for this particular meat. Fortunately there's a great one in 'Man Made Meals' -- Pac-Rim Short Ribs Braised with Ginger & Lemongrass, where we braise the ribs for a solid three hours. I finished them on the grill to crisp them up as recommended and they were great, but they seemed to be too tender this time. Almost like a beef pot roast. Taking a cue from the first recipe, I boiled the braising liquid down and added some Hoisin sauce and sweet Thai Chili sauce to make a killer Asian-style beef-flavored BBQ sauce. That went on leftovers and it was the best!
So, anyway, I'm wondering if anybody has had luck smoking short ribs that didn't come out chewy, or if you guys have any other tips? I'm pretty much settled on this braising-before-the-grill idea, but I'm wondering if they might like the reverse treatment like the way to we Loveless Cafe-style Watermelon Ribs (pork)? If I stick with this method, I think I'll try braising for two hours with this same beef next time since 90 minutes didn't quite do it, but 180 minutes seemed to overdo it.
Here's some pics: