We’re upping our short rib game with this recipe for Smoked Beef Short Ribs finished with a Red Wine Braise. This recipe has dinner party or holiday meal written all over it!
About a year ago we posted this recipe for short ribs saying it was a work in progress. We love to test and test different methods and recipes — different sizes of meats, different rubs, sauces, you name it — until we come to a place where we’re happy. With short ribs, we’ve learned (when it comes to flavor profiles at least) that it’s about what YOU like. Do you like complex dry rubs on your beef or salt and pepper? Do you like rich sauces, or simple light ones?
What it comes down for great meat to is technique. Once you have that down, you can change the flavors easily. It’s the technique that’s going to give you that melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture that I love about a slow cooked beef short rib. It’s the dish that turned me from a vegetarian to a carnivore, so I have a special love for this cut of meat and always trying to recreate the dish that converted me.
How to Buy Beef Short Ribs
Marbling is your friend. When buying ribs, look for marbling throughout. At the minimum look for USDA choice.
Next….size matters. Make sure the bone length is consistent, like three or four inches AND the height. You will often see various sizes of height and that cooks at different times. To avoid an overcooking experience, tell your butcher that you want a specific length on the bone (3 inches) and that they all have uniform height. Or get picky at your grocer, trust me, it’s worth it. Oh, and make sure they are SHORT ribs, not beef ribs! These are two different areas. You want short ribs for this.
How to Prep Beef Short Ribs
Trim. But more importantly, use a sharp knife to remove that silver skin membrane at the top of the rib. (Not the bone side)
This exposes the marbling and allows your rub to connect directly with the meat, and not fat or the silver skin. It also allows smoke to get at that meat easier than trying to work through the silver skin.
How to Season Beef Short Ribs
With any meat, I add some kind of slather or liquid. This allows my rub to stick. In this case, I go simple with extra virgin olive oil and make sure I coat all sides of the rib. I then follow that with a generous amount of dry rub. And for me, I love beef flavor, so I stick with an equal mix of kosher salt and pepper, to let the flavor of the meat shine. But if you have a favorite beef rub, feel free to use that instead. And be generous when applying the rub because as your meat cooks, it sweats out and you can lose some of that flavor. So don’t be shy.
Smoke – Spritz – Braise – Rest – Eat
There are tons of methods out there, but ours is about sitting in a bath (or braise) in wine to soak up more flavor. Smoke for a couple of hours getting that deep color.
Then spritz during the smoke process to add flavor and give the good smoke something to adhere to. You can use whatever liquid you like for this. In our previous recipe we used apple cider vinegar and juice. For this one we’re going with more savory flavors and used red wine, beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce in equal parts.
Braise or wrap in liquid. We’re sticking with the wine theme for this one, so we used wine, more broth, salt and pepper, and butter, adding extra flavor into the meat and finish rendering out that fat.
Pull and rest once your meat thermometer slides into the meat like warm butter, it’s usually between 200 and 205 degrees F. We like a digital thermometer like this one. Here it is important to focus on the texture, not timing. As frustrating as it can be, the rendering is the most important step, so be sure to focus on how it feels when that thermometer probe eases into the meat.
Rest for 15 minutes allowing the juices to redistribute, then eat.
Best Cooker and Wood to Use
We are using an offset cooker with fruit wood. I like cherry in this case for color and a sweeter smoke flavor. Oak works well too. I like to run my temp at 225 – 250 degrees allowing more smoke flavor to get into the meat.
- 3-4 lbs short ribs
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup rub your favorite beef rub, or the one below
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup coarse black pepper
- 1/3 cup beef broth
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire suce
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon rub (from above: salt and pepper combination)
- 2 tablespoons butter
Preheat smoker to 225 degrees with fruit wood.
Trim silver skin off short ribs, coat with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper (depending on the size of your short ribs you may or may not use all of the dry rub. Just make sure it's applied liberally based on the size of your meat).
Place short ribs on the smoker for two hours and prepare your spritz.
After two hours begin spritzing ribs every 30 minutes for one to two hours more. Look for the meat pulling back off the bone and a good mahogany color as the indicator it is ready for the braise.
When the color looks good and meat is pulling back from the bone (internal temp of roughly 165 degrees F or 3 to 4 hours on smoke), add to an aluminum pan. In the pan add the braising ingredients: wine, beef broth, dry rub (or salt and pepper), and butter. Cover tightly with foil and put back into the smoker.
After one to two hours, use a meat thermometer to probe short ribs, the ribs are done when you can insert the thermometer and the feel is like inserting into butter. There should not be much resistance, if it’s not like butter it is not quite done yet, and keep cooking until it is.
After you have determined it’s done (roughly 200 - 205 degrees Fahrenheit), remove from smoker and let sit covered for 15 minutes.
Remove from bath and serve with your favorite side and a glass of delicious red wine.
The texture of the meat is so soft and tender with that amazing infusion. Much of the fat has rendered out, but what you are left with is juicy, melt-in-your-mouth meat. We also let the meat braise in that wine for awhile, picking up some of those concentrated rich and savory flavors. I’m looking for a red wine that has a somewhat rich and velvety texture, with medium to low tannins and deep fruity flavors (not ripe or overly sweet). I want something full-bodied, but not overly intense, and I want some acid to refresh the palate.
I went with a Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for this. Rich and bold, but not overly tannic, with deep blackberry, black cherry, and blueberry fruit, pepper, vanilla, and toasty notes. It really works well with the richness of the meat. The wine and meat are perfectly in tune and balanced with each other.
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