They’re the ribs Fred Flintstone would order. You can call them giant short ribs or dinosaur bones, the correct name is beef plate short rib. And they’re arguably the best piece of meat you can put in a smoker this grilling season, better even than brisket.
“I love plate ribs. They’re really indulgent,” Aaron Franklin, of the iconic Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas, says. “If you undercook them they’re pretty good, and if you overcook them they’ll stay moist. And they can take a lot of smoke.”
The beef plate short rib is three thick bones just behind the brisket and below the rib eye on a steer. The meat is supremely well-marbled. It’s become a very popular and very expensive item in BBQ joints, selling for $30 a pound or more. But it’s easy to make at home.
You’re going to pay upwards of $10 a pound, and a significant amount of weight is in the large bones. Take the full slab, between five and seven pounds, and give it a bath with a flavoring agent. Franklin uses hot sauce. We suggest mustard, Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar. Then apply the rub. Minimally, you want Kosher salt and black pepper, but it stands up to a lot more.
Get your smoker to at least 275°F. Use your favorite wood, perhaps pecan. Put the whole slab in the smoker. Have a spray bottle with apple juice or cola ready to help retain moisture and form the bark, and spray at least every hour. You’ll see the meat pull away from the ends of the bones and puff up. You’re aiming at an internal temperature of 203°F, but more important is the meat’s tenderness. Use the probe on your thermometer to poke through the bark. If the resistance is close to soft butter, about six to seven hours in, they’re done.
Set the ribs down for an hour before cutting so that the juices settle. The hardest part of all this is waiting to eat.