Thursday, February 3, 2011

BBQ Beef Short Ribs

One of the great things about the paleo diet is that it doesn't shy away from meat. I love steak, so it's one of my go-to foods, but Miriam has threatened me with bodily harm if I make her eat steak two nights in a row (Insanity, I know) So, I have a few dishes that are basically steak, but don't irritate the part of Miriam's brain that says "Steak, Again!?" This is one of those stealth steaks. It's super meaty, so I'm happy, and ribs are usually pretty cheap, so that's an added bonus.

I generally prefer beef ribs to the more commonly seen pork ribs. I don't have a very clear reason why, I just think they taste better. I used bone-in short ribs this time, but I've also done this recipe with the full ribs. Those are usually labeled "beef back ribs," and they're a little less popular in stores. I do not recommend trying this recipe with "chuck ribs" which aren't even ribs as far as I can tell, nor do I suggest using the "flanken cut" beef ribs. Both of those fall apart when you try and handle them for the grilling step.

I bought three packs of ribs that were about a pound and a half each. It was plenty for about 4 servings, and was probably enough for 5. You'll obviously get more or fewer servings depending on what you consider to be a filling amount of meat. (I think I ate three ribs myself).

4 to 4 1/2 lbs beef short ribs (bone in)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup BBQ sauce of choice (See below for my recipe)

Large Bowl

Ribs are awesome.
Arrange the ribs in your crockpot. If you can get them in one layer on the bottom, that's best, but it's not critical. Season the ribs with the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder.

Broth - Tasty, but not photogenic
 Now add the beef broth,  vinegar, and liquid smoke to the crockpot and set it on high for 6 hours.

When the six hours are up, your ribs will look something like this:

Getting closer to tasty goodness.

Now, you could stop here and have some pretty good short ribs. I wouldn't blame you. They're going to smell awesome, and I can see how a person might want to just get on with the eating, but if you can hold on for just a few more minutes, I promise it will be worth it.

At this point, start heating up your grill. I prefer a real, outdoor grill, but it's really cold here right now, so I used my spiffy cast-iron grill pan. Whatever you use, get it super hot.

While your grill is heating, grab a large bowl and put about half of your BBQ sauce in the bottom, like this:
I like a mustard based BBQ sauce

Now carefully put the ribs (without the liquid from the crockpot) into the bowl on top of the sauce. Be carefull from here on with the ribs, because they may start falling off of their bones. That's good for eating, but difficult for handling. Do your best to keep them intact.

Careful, you want to keep them basically on the bone.

Drizzle the other half of the BBQ sauce on top of the ribs, and toss them gently so that they get coated in sauce.
Covered in sauce

Now, put the ribs on your super hot grill. You should grill them on one side for about 1-2 minutes, and then flip them and repeat. The ribs are already done when they come out of the crockpot, so what you're trying to do in this step is char them a little while caramelizing the BBQ sauce just a bit.
You're basically burning them on purpose, but just a little.
After you've done both sides, they're ready for the plate. I served mine with some collard greens. If you like collard greens, I suggest you do the same. If you don't like collard greens, I suggest you get your head examined because they're awesome. In the meantime, though, I guess you can use the side item(s) of your choice.
Collard greens. Love them.

Important Information About BBQ Sauce

Here's one of those hard truths, people: BBQ sauce has sugar in it. That's just the way it is. You can use fruit juice or maple syrup or honey if it makes you feel better, but don't be fooled - the sugar is still in there. Don't give up hope, though. You'll be OK as long as you remember two things.
  1. BBQ sauce is a condiment, not a beverage. You'll notice that I used 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce for this entire recipe. That's about two servings of sauce for 4-5 servings of ribs (and maybe a third of the sauce ends up staying in the bowl when the ribs are removed). Even a store bought sauce isn't going to kill you in that quantity.
  2. You can do better than the tomato-flavored pancake syrup that passes for store-bought BBQ sauce. I'm going to give you my super secret BBQ sauce recipe. If you like it, great. If not, I encourage you to find one that you do like while minimizing the overall sugar content. Two servings of Kraft original BBQ sauce has 12g carbs per serving (2 tbsp). My BBQ sauce has just under 2g.
The Sauce
1 1/2 cups yellow mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
pinch of salt

Combine everything in a pot and heat it on medium until it starts to slowly bubble, stirring constantly. Once it starts to bubble, cook for about 30 seconds.

I use this mustard-based sauce because I'm originally from South Carolina, and that's what I like. Like I said, there are lots of other recipes out there, and I encourage you to find one that works for you.

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