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Mixed results with short ribs

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    Mixed results with short ribs

    I did my longest cook to date yesterday (cooking time ~10.5 hours), beef short ribs, with uneven results. Here's the write-up.

    The equipment: Weber 22" Master Touch and a Maverick ET-733 with one probe monitoring the grill's interior temp and the other stuck in a meaty section of one of the short ribs. Grill probe was set to alert me if the temperature dropped below 200F or rose above 250F.

    The fuel: Kingsford 100% natural briquettes, done in a 2x1 pyramid-cross-section fuse around ~300 degrees of the full circle, with eight lit coals added to get things started. I had to add coals for the last couple of hours, as the fuse ran out. For smoke, one foil packet with 3oz oak chips.

    The meat: four enormous English-cut short ribs, two bones each, 3" deep (along the bone), 6" wide, 4" (!) tall. Got them from my go-to rancher at the farmers market (pastured Angus x Wagyu). Not sure if they used a different butcher this time around, but when I've gotten short ribs from them in the past, they were done as riblets and didn't have as much meat on them. These had the standard well-marbled meat right over the bones, then a membrane, then a big hunk of less-marbled meat. I'll come back to that second muscle later. Wish I'd taken a picture of the raw ones!

    The recipe: Meathead's "Short ribs Texas style," details following.


    Night before - Gave the ribs a good dusting of kosher salt about 16 hours before they were to start cooking, covered, refrigerated overnight.

    7:30am - Rubbed the ribs with some canola oil and sprinkled with a moderate amount of Big Bad Beef Rub (used chipotle powder and homemade ancho chile powder), then stuck back in the fridge until cooking time.

    8:30am - Got about a dozen coals started in the chimney and, when, ash-covered, added eight to the grill with the packet of oak chips. Also set up a big pan of water on the lower rack in the center of the coals. Waited until I saw smoke from the chips before I added the meat.

    9:00am - Ribs on the grill, standing up on their bones, ~2" between pieces, slightly fatter ends (if they had them) toward the coals. Small pan of water directly over the lit coals.

    9:00am - ~4:30pm: Grill mostly doing its thing! I had to play with the vents a bit to keep the temperature between 200F and 250F, as the ambient temperature rose and the grill came into direct sun. For most of this time, it stuck pretty steadily between 225F and 235F. The meat stalled at 151F for about half an hour, maybe 45 minutes before inching upward again.

    4:30pm - Fuse ran out, and I started having to add coals. Next time I'll probably try to create another fuse through the opening the hinged grate provides, as adding them manually every 20-30 minutes for the rest of the cook was labor-intensive.

    6:00pm - Things got a little weird. The meat hit 194F, so my thermometer beeped to tell me it was within 10 degrees of the 203F target temperature. Great! Home stretch, right? But then, after hanging out at 194F for 15-20 minutes, it started going down. It dropped to 192F. I wondered if it was a second stall and decided to wait it out. At one point, I lifted the lid to add coals, and the temp jumped back up to 194F before dropping back down to 192F a short while later. I was puzzled.

    7:00pm - I started thinking maybe the probe was poorly positioned in the meat, so I tried removing it and reinserting it. Waited for it to come back up and stabilize... now the probe showed 187F. And then it dropped to 185F, at which point I started losing faith in the thermometer. Around 7:30pm, I sliced off a piece of one of the ribs and declared it sufficiently tender for dinner (just my husband and me--I don't experiment with company).


    Results - As I said up top, the results were mixed. If you look at the pics below, there are these big chunks of meat sitting on top of the ribs. That meat had a beautiful smoke ring and huge beefy flavor, just stunning, but it was dry--just didn't have enough fat to keep it juicy. It's also possible that the grill interior wasn't humid enough even with what water I did have. Underneath that hunk of meat was a layer of fat, a bit of a membrane, and then some more meat right around the bones: probably 0.5-0.75" thick. THAT right there was the rich, juicy, fork-shreddable rib meat I was going for. It came cleanly off the bone and was a delight to eat. So while part of each piece was disappointing, part was also a great success.

    We have lots of leftovers--the pieces were big enough that we could barely finish one each, what with the beans, salad, and peaches-with-frangipane I'd also prepared. I plan to slice the lean meat and toss it with some homemade BBQ sauce for sandwiches, then maybe pull the remaining rib meat and either eat it as-is or use it for more sandwiches. I estimate we have another two or three meals' worth of meat left.

    I'd like to try short ribs on the grill again, and if I get similarly cut pieces next time, I plan to cut off that lean section and save it for another use. I've been poking around AmazingRibs and the Googles trying to figure out what that leaner muscle is, but no luck so far. I'd love to hear other members' thoughts on what it might be, and of course other feedback is welcome!

    Pictures - First on the grill and then once pulled off. I'll try to take more pictures of future cooks.

    Hey asandman ,

    Excellent write-up! Don't have an answer as to what happened though. There's been a few times I've been concerned with what the Maverick is saying, so I keep an insta-read on hand just to confirm. Don't blame you for starting to doubt.

    Sounds like your setup on the rig and meat prep were pretty much perfect. I did 6 small single boned ribs ( packaged like this @ Kroger ) so I was definitely cooking much smaller pieces. No stall, 35 minutes to go from 196 - 203 IT, ( grill running 244 - 253 ).

    You could try a 2 x 2 fuse for a longer burn time. Sounds like you've got good vent control, so you should not have any problems keeping the cooker where you want it, especially with water pan(s).

    I'm sure you'll get answers from the experts here. Good luck!



      I've never seen short ribs cut that way, but by no means am I an expert or a butcher. The pic I attached is a cut I did a week or so ago and is a typical size of what I purchase. It comes in 3 rib sections. I have no idea what your extra meat cut is, but I can't see having much success on a pit with that much contrast in textures on one bone, especially with the lean on the exterior. The details you list seem spot on, but I go for 192 - 194 then rest for about 20 minutes uncovered in a room temp oven. It seems to me that your thermometer was the root cause but I look forward to more experienced posters comments.



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