How To: on a PK Grills PK360
I think my all-time, favourite cut would have to be Beef Ribs. They’re thick, juicy and full of flavour as well as being an easy ‘set and forget’ style cut. When first-time BBQ’ers ask me what they should do for their first try, my answer, understandably, is Beef Ribs. To give you an idea of just how easy it is, here is ‘How To: Beef Ribs in a PK Grills PK360’.
How To: Beef Ribs - Setting up the PK360
Aside from the Beef Ribs, you’ll need a BBQ that you can do indirect cooking with. In this case, I’m using a PK Grills PK360 from Hazy Peak Barbecues. The PK360 is perfect for this thanks to its hinged grate and the way the vents are set up. Firstly, the hinged grate allows for an easy indirect cooking set up. The charcoal goes all the way over to the right, leaving a cooler zone on the left, which is where the beef ribs will go later. The hinged grate will allow you to add more charcoal and wood during the cook. Secondly, the location of the vents contribute to making this BBQ so great for low’n’slow. It’s as easy as closing the bottom left vent and the top right vent. This will force the air in directly under the coals creating heat and smoke. The air flow is then forced to pass over the meat and out the top left vent. This is the exact principle of low’n’slow BBQ, and it’s incredible that PK Grills has managed to make it so easy.
How To: Beef Ribs - Trimming the Ribs
As with all BBQ cuts, there will be some trimming required, which is what we’re going to look at in this section of ‘How to: Beef Ribs in a PK Grills PK360’. Beef ribs usually come in packs of two racks. Each rack in that pack will have 3 bones. You’ll find that there is a reasonably large layer of hard white fat on the top, and a tough, thin layer of membrane on the back. Both of these are going to have to go, and the best tool for this is a nice, sharp boning knife.
Start by removing the hard fat from the top and the thin, translucent film underneath that hard fat. This films is also called the ‘Silver Skin’. The hard fat needs to go as it is the hardest fat to render and while fat is where the flavour is, this hard fat is definitely not tasty. The Silver Skin underneath the fat is trickier to remove, but take your time, get your blade in under the film and gently slice it off. If you don’t, it will be harder for the seasoning to stick to the ribs and will affect the flavour of the finished product.
Flip the rack over and you’ll see the tougher membrane clinging to the back of the bones. Using the flexible blade of your boning knife, slide the blade between the bone and the membrane. Slide, wiggle, and push your blade sideways until the membrane is completely removed. This will leave the meat between the bones completely exposed and able to be properly seasoned.
Finally, check your ribs for any small pieces of meat hanging off the rack. Trim these off so you have one nice, smooth piece of meat, and you’re ready to move onto the next stage.
How To: Beef Ribs - A Note on Binders
A lot of people like to use a binding agent when applying rubs to their meats, ranging from American-style mustard to Worcestershire Sauce. I have used these in the past and to be honest, haven’t found a huge advantage to using them. I like to apply the seasoning directly to the meat, give it a pat and then turn the meat to continue applying it to the other surfaces. The natural moisture from the meat sticks the seasoning to the surface. I then apply a little more if necessary to ensure even coverage. I find this process to be cleaner and cheaper, with no discernible difference in the final product.
How To: Beef Ribs - Seasoning
There are so many ways you can go when it comes to seasoning your beef ribs. Traditional Texan Style would be 2 parts salt flakes and 1 part fresh-cracked black pepper, also known as a Dalmation Rub. Add another 1 part garlic powder, 1 part onion powder and 1 part paprika and you’ve got a great savoury beef rub. In this case, I’m using a combination of Barbecue Mafia’s Steakout and La Famiglia rubs. The Steakout is well known for developing very black, crunchy, delicious bark, and is exactly what I’m going for in this case. Be sure to also season the back of the rack and all the sides. With that film removed off the back, your seasoning will have access to the meat and give you a more flavour-packed final product. Just be sure to get an even coverage: you’ll get a much better looking and tasting rib.
How To: Beef Ribs - Smoking
When it comes to smoking beef ribs, I have one golden rule: 275 til 203. That is, a grill temp of 275F (135C) until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 203F (95C). But let’s break it down.
Once your grill has settled to 275F (135C), put your ribs on the left side of the grill and some wood chunks on top of the lit charcoal for the smoke. Close it up and leave it alone for a few hours.
Now, there is one tool that’s going to help you a lot with the cooking process – a multi-probe remote thermometer. You’re going to want one (or more) probes in your ribs, and the other clipped to the grill. This will give you an idea of where the meat is at, and what’s happening with your grill temperatures without having to open up the BBQ – coz if you’re looking, you ain’t cooking! An InkBird multi-probe thermometer is a great idea – check out my review of the unit here.
Once your Beef Ribs hit around 160F (71C), they’ll hit ‘The Stall’. This will take around 4 hours. The stall is a process whereby the meat seems to stop getting hotter. It can be frustrating but it’s completely normal. To help with this process, I choose to wrap my ribs with peach paper, named for the colour. I find the paper lets the meat breathe enough to develop a delicious crusty bark without losing too much of the moisture. If you’re worried about losing the juices, wrap your ribs and put the whole lot in a foil tray – that way you’ll catch the drippings. So wrap your ribs and put them back in. Also, from here on out, there’s no need to put on any more wood chunks – meat won’t take on any more smoke flavour after it hits 145F (63C) so you’re just wasting the wood and your money if you do.
Now, there’s no hard and fast rule for how long this will take, but plan for a total of 8-10 hours.
In the later end of the cook, once your multi-probe thermometer is telling you the meat is at 190F+ (88C), you need to start testing it with an Instant Read Thermometer (again, I have reviewed an InkBird model over here). Whilst I said earlier that 203F (95C) was the magic number, it’s more of a guide than a rule as each piece of meat will be ‘finished’ at a different temperature. The Instant Read thermometer becomes really useful here. Not only will it give you near instant, accurate temperatures of your meat, but by feeling the resistance to the probe as it slides into the meat, you will be able to feel how tender and therefore how ‘finished’ your ribs are. The probe needs to feel like it’s sliding into butter. When it does, the meat is done and it’s time for a rest.
For the rest, lay an old bath towel in the bottom of a dry esky. Wrap your ribs back up in the paper and foil tray and sit it on top of that towel. Then place another old towel on top of that and close up the esky. You’ll want to let the meat rest for at least an hour, but in that esky with those towels, they’ll hold easily for 4 hours.
How To: Beef Ribs - Serving
When it comes to serving Beef Ribs, you’ve really got 2 choices. You can either slice them parallel to the bone, creating large, cave-man style servings. Or you can run your knife perpendicular to the bones between them and the meat. This will get your meat off in one big chunk which you can then slice up. If your guests have big appetites, then the cave-man style cut of the rib on the bone will be what you’re after. If they aren’t, or if you want to do something else with the meat, like putting it on a burger, then slicing them up like a brisket will be the way to go. A serve of beef ribs, some potato salad and a couple of pickles and you’re good to go!
If you’re new to low’n’slow, Beef Ribs are one of the best cuts of meat you can learn on. They’re well-priced, low maintenance, and easy to prepare and cook. They’re also very forgiving if you do make a mistake and you can serve up the final product in many different ways. And the PK Grills PK360 just makes it so easy. Til next time, take care of each other, and keep on Q’ing!
The PKGrills PK360 is one of the most flexible and adaptable smoker grills on the market. It’s well built, with high quality construction, and can be used in so many ways. In this article, I’ve used it as a smoker, but I’ve also used it for grilling, roasting and baking. Even better, my wife likes the way it looks so it gets to live on the front deck of my house rather than hidden down the back yard.
Do yourself a favour and grab yourself a PK360 now!
N.b. U.S. Readers – you can grab yours over here.