How to Make Your Beef Barbeque Ribs Fall Off the Bone


The difference between a prime rib roast and a boneless ribeye is the ribs themselves, which are cut from the roast and then sold separately. The rib meat has the same rich, beefy flavor as the roast, but not its signature tenderness. Instead, the rib meat is chewy and stringy. To really enjoy beef ribs, they must be slow-cooked on your barbecue until the meat is tender enough to nearly fall from the massive bones.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towel
  • Spice rub
  • Plastic film wrap
  • Charcoal
  • Hardwood chips, for smoke
  • Fork
  • Barbecue sauce (optional)
  • Sauce brush (optional)
  • Wipe the ends of the rib bones with a clean paper towel, to remove any bone fragments left by the butcher's saw. Rub the ribs thoroughly with your favorite spice mixture, either commercial or homemade, then cover them with plastic film wrap and refrigerate them overnight.

  • Load your barbecue with charcoal and light it. When the coals are well established, rake them to one side of the kettle and add a few small pieces of hardwood to provide smoke. Close the lid and adjust your vents until you reach a stable temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Place the beef ribs on your grill's rack, on the side where there are no coals. Close the lid, and cook the ribs at this low temperature for a minimum of 3 hours before checking them. The kettle shouldn't require any additional charcoal.

  • Open the lid after 3 hours and test the ribs by grasping the end of a bone with a clean towel, and rotating it. If it moves freely in place, insert a fork into the meaty area between the bones and twist it. If the meat comes away freely, the ribs are done. If it doesn't, close the lid and cook the beef for another 45 mintues before testing a second time.

  • Remove the ribs from your barbecue once they're fully tender. If you'd like to finish the ribs with a sauce, open your barbecue's vents to create a very hot flame. Brush the ribs with sauce and return them to the kettle, this time closer to the coals. Grill them for a few minutes until the sauce is caramelized and bubbly, then serve.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you're on good terms with your butcher, you can ask for the ribs to be cut "extra-meaty." You'll pay a premium for this, but the added meat is tender prime rib.
  • The ribs can be bought as whole, caveman-sized racks, but not all barbecues can handle such large slabs of meat. You can cut them into individual ribs or two-rib portions by slicing through the meat, or ask your butcher to saw them into shorter sections across the bones.
  • If you're using a gas barbecue, create indirect heat for your ribs by lighting the sides but leaving the middle off. Place your ribs in the middle section. If you have a two-burner grill, light one side but not the other. To provide smoke, wrap your hardwood chips in several layers of heavy foil and puncture the package a few times with a skewer. Place the wood chips on the heated side of your grill.
  • Properly speaking, ribs shouldn't fall off the bone. If nothing else, this would make them impractical to remove from the grill. Instead, the meat should remain on the bone but be tender enough to strip away from it easily when bitten.

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