When I was little, I watched the Flintstones cartoons. At the beginning, during the opening song, there's a car-hop waitress that brings Fred a rack of ribs that is so big, it actually tips his car over. I think about that to this day, and now I'm over 50. "Someday," I think, "They'll clone a Woolly Mammoth and they'll pick me to cook it's ribs!" That would be a glorious day, indeed.
Everybody is hung up on pork ribs. Don't get me wrong, baby-backs, St. Louis style, Country Pork Ribs (which aren't ribs at all, by the way, just cross cuts of the pork shoulder), any rib from a pig is certainly delicious, but there's something special about a beef rib. I'm not talking about the Short Ribs your mom has stewing in the crock-pot either, I'm talking about fulfilling that primal urge to grab the whole damn rib bone out of the cow, holding it like a big beefy club, and gnawing on it, caveman or Polar Bear style.
First, you gotta find them. This isn't as easy as it might sound, since we're living in an age where most meat is shipped boneless. What you want to tell your butcher is, "I'd like the whole, uncut beef ribs off of the short plate, please. Blades of 4 ribs are preferable." Luckily, my local Sam's Club has them! Here's what you're asking for:
So... you found some beef ribs. Congratulations! Lay out your slabs of ribs (or "plates" to be butcher-friendly) onto your work surface. I put down a layer of plastic first because my wife won't allow me to install a stainless steel work surface in my home kitchen (yet).
Once the membrane is gone, you'll need to apply some "glue" to help the dry rub stick to the ribs. I love the new "Worcetershire Thick" sauce. It's exactly what it sounds like, a Mustard-like version of the classic Worcetershire sauce. Go ahead and glop on a thin layer as shown.
Flip your plates over so the front side is showing, and start trimming some fat. The "fat cap" is still on your ribs if you bought them "whole" or "un-trimmed." How much fat to cut is up to you. There's always a part of me that thinks, "I paid good money for these and I hate to just throw any away." Try to resist this thought. What makes ribs so gosh-darn juicy and flavorful is the fat and connective tissue that is deep inside the muscle. Trust me, there is plenty of it in there.... there's no need to "skimp" on the trimming of exterior fat.
The cooking process will take almost exactly 6 hours. Get the heat in your smoker up to a consistent 225 degrees. When you can hold 225, lay the plates out on your smoker (curve down, or backside down) with as much exposure to the smoke as possible. Make sure the thicker side is facing up.
After your 3 hours are up, transfer the ribs to a large cooking pan and add one cup of apple cider vinegar and one cup of orange juice.
You should notice a couple of things. The crust on the outside of the ribs should be getting noticeably darker, and the meat should be starting to pull back away from the bones. Pour on the cider and COVER the ribs with a couple of layers of foil. Put them back on the smoker for two more hours. You could do this stage in a 225 degree oven if you want, but your smoker is already going so...
These are so good, you don't really need any bbq sauce. Some insist on it though, so use it if you want it. Just make sure it's a vinegar based sauce and that you heat it up prior to use.