Beef ribs might not be as popular as pork but I assure you they’re just as tasty! They’re meaty, juicy and, when cooked low-and-slow, they fall off the bone with ease. I absolutely love them. Not least because they tend to have a bit more bite than pork. Call me crazy but there’s something very primal and satisfying about sinking your teeth into a big chunk of sticky, roasted meat.
Smoking vs. Roasting Ribs…
Purists will likely turn up their noses to the idea of roasting ribs and I understand where they’re coming from. There really isn’t a substitute for the flavour and experience of smoking meat. Smoking is an art form and it takes years to get it right. Personally, I haven’t had much success with smoking. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a proper smoker, but I don’t feel like that’s a good enough excuse. It’s more likely because smoking requires very consistent temperature for a long duration of time and I’m not very good at controlling that – regardless of the equipment. Why do you need to keep such a close eye on the temp? Because the intramuscular fibres in the meat that typically gets smoked (brisket, shoulder, ribs) takes a long time to break down and if the temperature is too hot or too cold you’ll end up with a tough finished product. For me, smoking meat is kind of like playing golf, I swing and swing and if I’m lucky I get the ball close enough to the hole. I mean, it’s fun and I get to spend time outdoors but it can also be a bit frustrating. There is also the occasional beer involved! Shhh… don’t tell anyone. I have a reputation to uphold 😉
So, I decided to take on the task of roasting these ribs in the oven where the temperature is easily controlled. There’s something to be said for making our lives easy in the kitchen and if that means sacrificing 6-hours outside, slaving over the temperature of a fickle chimney smoker, then so be it! I was worried they would be on the bland side but I have to admit that the spice rub did a great job of infusing the meat with flavour. The rub is sweet, smokey and a bit spicy. It goes great with my Balsamic-Maple BBQ Sauce. I made a batch of sauce to slather overtop of the ribs after they finished roasting. I admit that I did finish the ribs on the grill and basted them generously with sauce over and over again. If you don’t have a grill, you can finish them in the oven or in a grill pan. If you finish them in the oven be mindful that the roasting tray will have plenty of rendered fat at the bottom. You’ll want to discard that before returning the ribs to the oven.
Personally, I like to use a mop to baste the ribs, especially when finishing them over the grill. You can get away with a spoon if finishing the meat in the oven but over the high heat of the grill you might have a hard time. I don’t like the silicon brushes – I have three that are taking up space in my drawer. I feel like the sauce just drips off the bristles before making contact with the meat. Instead, I use a fabric mop like this one here, because the sauce sticks to the threads very nicely. (Full disclosure, this is an Amazon Affiliate link and if you purchase this product I receive a very small commission. This is one way that you can help to support my blogging.) The mop linked above has a longer handle than the one I own, which is helpful for keeping your arm away from the flames of the grill. To clean the mop, I soak it in hot, soapy water overnight and then give it a good scrub.
I hope you like it and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Sticky Beef Ribs – Paleo
Note: this makes 1 rack of beef back ribs (approx. 6 bones). Adjust measurements as needed but keep proportions the same.
1 rack beef back ribs
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
kosher salt as needed
½ cup Maple-Balsamic BBQ Sauce (see recipe here)
- Add all the spices, except for salt, to a bowl and stir to combine.
- Turn the ribs meat-side down and use a paring knife to scrape off an edge of the membrane. Grab hold of the membrane with a piece of paper towel and slowly peel it back until it is all removed.
- Generously season both sides of the ribs with salt and the spice mixture. Be sure to massage the spices into all of the nooks and crannies of the meat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight. Note: I’ve made this with no marinating time and it still turned out delicious.
- Preheat oven to 300F. Place ribs in a roasting tray bone-side down. Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the tray and cover with foil. Roast for 3hrs or until the meat is fork tender.
- Remove foil and discard any rendered fat that pooled at the bottom of the roasting tray. Baste ribs with sauce and raise the heat of the oven to 400F. Roast ribs for an additional 20-25 and baste with sauce two or three times.
- Alternatively, finish the roasted ribs over a gas or charcoal grill and baste with sauce.