BBQ

Beef Finger Ribs on the Pit Barrel Cooker

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Pork ribs get all the attention. Maybe it’s because they dominate across many parts of the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I love pork ribs. It’s the rib meat we smoke the most throughout the year. But, when cooked correctly, beef ribs are one of the tastiest meats you can prepare. The smaller beef finger ribs are even better because they make a great appetizer or snack, and they provide a full, meaty experience with full flavor.

We made beef finger ribs two days in a row on our Pit Barrel Cooker. Why you ask? Because they were so darn good the first day, I had to smoke more. So, Sunday morning we ran back to the grocery store and grabbed two more racks. As you know, I am a huge fan of the Pit Barrel Cooker. I have called it the best smoker for most people. And, I mean it.

I am currently reading the Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto book which is an amazing read. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to peek into the mind of Aaron Franklin, one of the most highly regarded meat smoking PitMaster’s. He has people from all over the world visit his facility to learn how to properly smoke meat.

While Aaron Franklin is a purist when it comes to only using wood for smoking meat, the other 99% are busy with their regular 9-5 jobs and don’t have time to tend to a 6-8 hour cook much less a 12-15 hour cook when smoking a brisket. This is where the Pit Barrel Cooker comes in. The set it and forget it barrel with amazing flavor.

The Cook

  • 2 longer racks of beef finger ribs on Saturday with some sausage
    • cooked on Pit Barrel Cooker Hinged Grate
  • 2 racks of beef finger ribs on Sunday, 4 bone racks cut a little wider
  • Pit Barrel Cooker Beef & Game Rub
  • 18.5” Classic Pit Barrel Cooker
  • Sprinkle of Lumber Jack Supreme Blend Wood Pellets
  • Mix of left over lump charcoal and some Kingsford I had sitting around. I ran out of Rockwood Lump Charcoal, so I need to get some more.

Start by Removing Membrane

Butter knife pushed under membrane to remove it from the back side of beef finger ribs.
Butter knife pushed under membrane to remove it from the back side of beef finger ribs.

Beef ribs have a much thicker membrane on the back compared to pork ribs. I like removing the membrane so the ribs are easier to eat once they are rendered out. You can accomplish this by grabbing a butter knife with a blunt end and sliding it along the bone under the membrane. Lift the knife enough to give you a surface area you can pull.

Removing membrane on back of beef finger ribs.
Removing membrane on back of beef finger ribs.

Next, grab a paper towel and pull the membrane off until all of its removed. Sometimes the membrane will come off in one fell swoop and other times you will have to pull it off in several pieces. Either way, removing the membrane on beef ribs is good because it can be very thick and tough and now your seasoning will be able to penetrate the back side more.

Season Ribs with Your Favorite Rub

Beef finger ribs seasoned with Pit Barrel Cooker Beef & Game Rub
Beef finger ribs seasoned with Pit Barrel Cooker Beef & Game Rub

You can go in a few different directions when seasoning your beef ribs. Some people like to only use salt and pepper while others like to experiment with all kinds of flavors. For this cook, we went with Pit Barrel Cooker Beef & Game Rub which has an amazing flavor and is one of the best buys you will find, especially when you buy it in their Value Pack.

Day 1: Saturday

Sausages and beef finger ribs on the Pit Barrel Cooker using their hinged grate.
Sausages and beef finger ribs on the Pit Barrel Cooker using their hinged grate.

We had two longer beef finger racks on the first day that were cut a little thinner. We used our Pit Barrel Cooker Hinged Grate, so we could throw some raw Italian and jalapeño sausages we were gifted over the holidays. The hinged grate is a recent accessory I acquired for my cooker and I must say it is transformative. Being able to hang up to four racks of ribs on one side while throwing on other proteins on the other side is awesome. I never had anything like this in my first six years of using this cooker.

Day 2: Sunday

Another set of beef finger ribs hanging on the Pit Barrel Cooker. These ribs were cut a little wider by the butcher.
Another set of beef finger ribs hanging on the Pit Barrel Cooker. These ribs were cut a little wider by the butcher.

On Sunday, we only cooked two racks of beef finger ribs. These ribs were cut a little different from the first two racks we smoked on Saturday. They consisted of only four bones, and they were cut wider. They had more meat on the bone which I like and were like eating mini Dino ribs. Needless to say, they all came out great and the flavor from the rubs was distinct and prominent. The ribs formed a good, crunchy bark which made for a great bite when sinking your teeth into marbled beef.

Sprinkle Wood Pellets on Charcoal Fire

I like to sprinkle wood pellets I use in my MAK 2 Star pellet grill onto the charcoal fire every so often. The wood pellets are small and combust quickly and can provide some additional smoke flavor to meats you are cooking. It is not a necessity as cooking with charcoal by itself will produce amazing barbecue.

Total Time to Cook Ribs

Beautifully rendered beef finger ribs ready to come off Pit Barrel Cooker.
Beautifully rendered beef finger ribs ready to come off Pit Barrel Cooker.

When the Pit Barrel Cooker vent is set to your proper elevation, you should be able to render out your beef ribs in about 4-5 hours. I read a recipe online where they cooked them in 90 minutes, but ours were not done in that time. You need to take your ribs to an internal temp of around 200-205 to make sure you break down the connective tissue in the beef. If you take them off around 165-170 internal temperature, you will end up with tough ribs, and they will not be enjoyable.

Use a good instant read thermometer with a probe to check the temperature of the beef in between the ribs. Make sure the temperature probe does not hit the bone as you will get a false reading. If the temperature probe goes into the beef like a hot knife in butter, then your ribs are most likely done.

Resting the Beef Ribs

Beef finger ribs cooked on Pit Barrel Cooker resting on cutting board right before we sliced them.
Beef finger ribs cooked on Pit Barrel Cooker resting on cutting board right before we sliced them.

If you are cooking a smaller rack of ribs, you most likely don’t have to rest them very long. If you are cooking a larger set of ribs, resting them in an ice chest for 30 minutes to 1 hour won’t hurt. I have a couple of heavy-duty coolers that I threw the ribs in for a couple of hours until our guests arrived. The finished product was awesome.

Pit Barrel Cooker is Known for Awesome Ribs

Beautiful smoke ring on moist, tender beef finger ribs smoked on Pit Barrel Cooker.
Beautiful smoke ring on moist, tender beef finger ribs smoked on Pit Barrel Cooker.

All you have to do is a quick Google or YouTube search, and you will find thousands of people praising the Pit Barrel Cooker for its rib cooking abilities. And for good reason. It really does make some of the best tasting ribs you will ever eat. You can read my article about smoking baby back ribs on the Pit Barrel Cooker.

Like I have said before, there is something magical that happens when ribs are hanging over a live coal bed and the drippings are falling down creating steam. The Pit Barrel Cooker is one of the best buys in barbecue going today. You can have one shipped straight to your door that will include everything you need so you can start cooking ribs that will make you legendary.

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