The following is a version of the Award Winning Beef Ribs served at mancuisine’s smökathon in 2016. It is important to note that when planning to make this recipe, call your butcher well ahead of time as they do not often stockpile beef ribs in their facility – a shame, as these ribs far surpass any flavor you can get from the same style of cut that is offered in pork. I am giving the full recipe for a competition sized portion, make any adjustments as needed or make extra as the rub will last in a pantry for the next time you make these ribs (and there will be a next time, trust me).

Setup for the beef ribs at the beginning of the cook time
Setup for the beef ribs at the beginning of the cook time

I use an offset smoker, with an old bread pan filled with water directly next to the firebox in the cook chamber. Water pans are highly recommended to be used in this recipe – if cooking the ribs in the oven as I have been known to do, I will place a pan with water in there as well to keep the moisture level up in the chamber.


The Meat:
4 racks Texas style beef ribs
Remove the meat from the fridge 1 hour before cooking to allow the meat to get near room temperature. Trim any excess fat and score the membrane on the underside of the rib along each bone with a knife – this gives the rest of the fat easy access to drip out, and there will be plenty over the cook time.

The Rub:
1/2 cup whole black peppercorns
3 T chili flakes
1/3 cup + 1 T sea salt
Put the peppercorns and chili flakes into a spice or coffee grinder and grind them into a rough sand, you do not want it to be too fine. Mix in the salt and put 1/4 to 1/2 of the mixture onto the ribs, making sure to get it into the meat, the sides and the bottom of the racks.

Start your coals, fire or oven and bring your vessel to 225 degrees. Maintain this temperature the entire cook time. Know your vessel and what it needs to stay there, and when those times come when more fuel is needed to be added. This is key to a good piece of meat at the end of the day.

Put the ribs into the smoker with the thicker bone side facing the firebox or heat source. Rub in last 1/2 of the dry rub into the top side of the ribs. Close the vessel and watch your temperature.

If cooking multiple racks, rotate the meat every 1.5 to 2 hours to ensure that each one is cooked evenly. 5 hours into the cook time, wrap the ribs with an unlined butcher paper. I do the simple envelope style where the ribs are placed in the center with the membrane side up, fold the four corners into the center, tuck them under and place back in the vessel as they had been when taken out. I cook these using only wood, if you are cooking with charcoal and wood chunks I recommend doing this step and hour or two later. This is also the step where you may add your favorite sauce to the ribs, but they will also be amazing just with the rub.

finished product at the final unwrapping
finished product at the final unwrapping

8 hours into cook time remove the ribs, still wrapped, and place them into a cooler or large plastic container. Leave them there for one hour, remove, unwrap, sauce, and cut into individual ribs.

Make sure to have some paper towels handy, as these ribs will be juicy!

Our smökathon [also previously know as ribfest] took a different angle this year on competitive cooking, as our challengers were able to select any cut of meat from a cow or a pig and not just pork ribs as ruled in the past. Every person selected something unique from each other in happenstance, as we discussed what we were cooking at a meeting a few days before the event.

Jeff doing an initial check of the brisket before the long haul of smoking
Jeff doing an initial check of the brisket before the long haul of smoking

Jeff was to cook a brisket in his new beast of a smoker, Brad to cook a pork shoulder. Adam was telling us that he was going to cook up some pulled pork from a pork loin and Doug found an uncured ham he was going to smoke all day. I chose to try to tackle beef ribs and Trevor took the challenge of making pastrami from scratch. A great unplanned variety from the cooks in our first year of opening up the options.

Trevor's set-up at the beginning of the day
Trevor’s set-up at the beginning of the day

Jeff in his competitive nature rolled up to our venue at 4:30 am to put the coals on and begin his process. The rest of us came down around 7:30 and did the same. It was 8:00 am when Jeff cracked his first beer open, as the long day of sustaining temperature means you have to slow down a bit and relax around your firebox.

Weather reports started pinging on our phones around noon as a severe weather alert had been issued for our area! This would be a new challenge for us, as the weather had always complemented our days of cooking in the past.

Most of us chose to put some foil down as insulation
Most of us chose to put some foil down as insulation

It did not take long for us to get the needed protection set up for our smokers and battle the cool-down that the rain would inevitably bring. The rain kept the competitors busy for the few hours that it did come down, but for the most part our smokers held temperature and it was a minor hiccup in the day.

The rain broke around 3:00 and the people came rushing in. Coolers stocked with beer and drinks and the conversations in the crowd were fulfilling and plentiful. This is the real reason why we do these competitions every year – to bring our friends and family together over food and merriment. 

As the 5:00 pm judging time was beginning to approach there were many tactics that emerged as to what could be done to finish the meat. Foil and butcher paper rolls were unearthed and coolers opened. Some wrapped with sauce, others without. It was a year of high diversity in our outcomes. smokathon winners

In the end it was Trevor, with the pastrami, who received the most amount of votes from the crowd as their favorite and he took home the traveling belt. Isaac, with the beef ribs, got the highest tally from the 5 judges and took home the trophy.

Hope to see you all next year at our 8th annual smökathon in 2017!

 

Its time again to get the coals burning and the smoke rolling as we prepare for the 7th annual mancuisine.com smökathon. We are having it once again down at our Eagan on Hackmore Drive, inquire with one of our members on specifics. This year we will have a voluntary ticket system to enter for all those hoping to eat so we can properly prepare. Check our eventbrite site for more information.

New rule this year: All those competing can choose any cut, from pork or beef, with any cookktime, as they choose – as long as it is cooked over a natural flame. It is an open invitation to have anyone cook and compete with us! – send any inquiries to compete to isaac@mancuisine.com

The coals will be fired up around 10 AM, judging at 5 PM with beverages and edibles available all day! Join whenever you would like, the team will be around for good company.

Bring a side dish to be shared with all and some beers as well if you so choose!

competitors
This year’s cooks

Screen Shot 2013-06-30 at 5.21.06 PMWith the smell of hickory smoke still filling the beard and a digestive tract that continues to be uncertain about where it has been it’s time to give the summary of this year’s Rib Event. A kinder and gentler set of sauces this year kept us from the problems encountered when ribs are in heat…

stilltalking
Talking smart- note the cooler
talking smart
Still talking- note cooler again

sixplattersThirty two adults and hoards of smaller creatures attended this year’s last minute event with two dogs, six cooks and a new trophy brought to the event by last year’s winner- Jeff.  A new feature this year was the number of  people who unexpectedly  stopped by to see what kind of bargains we had at the “garage sale”! Seems that to the idle passer-by the driveway full of working smokers had the appearance of a rummage sale. Although, one guy did stop to ask questions about the various kinds of grills we were using to help him make a decision. We gave him a beer and shared our vast knowledge of smokers and grills. Unfortunately, it seems, he is likely to buy a Green Egg. Makes ya wish you had given him a Blue Moon.

Cooking started around 10:00 and continued right up to the judging at 5:00 pm (17:00). Here are the results in the order they were judged:

  • Doug swore to no secret ingredient with just a hint of heat and some pre-brining.
  • Brad went with a 1-2-3  rub-glaze-mop with a hint of mint and bourbon.
  • Jeff went with a bit of heat in his rub with a final mop to kick things a bit further.
  • Isaac went with a marinade and mop using habanero peppers and pears. He also tried a hybrid smoker, mini grill treatment.
  • Kyle forsook  the smoker altogether and went with the slow, dry, fall-off-the-rib treatment on the Weber.
  • Trevor went for the long smoker treatment with a bit of root beer in the sauce, not having any cola around the house.
Isaaccolor
Isaac’s 3D mop pile

underwayIn the end Jeff took the popular vote and the Judges Overall Award. He is seen at the left checking out the potential changes in the barometric pressure that might impact the timing of the mop sauce. To complete the sweep he also walked away with the most heat nod from the judges. Isaac is still wondering how his habaneros ended up in second heat. Hard to tell what will happen when ribs are in heat.

Nonetheless, all ribs were deemed more than edible with Kyle taking second overall and Isaac third. For those doing the stats for the event baby backs were the ribs of the day thanks to a sale at Rainbow Foods although we noted that Cub Foods has ribs on sale this week as well. Only two of the contestants made spare ribs.

Klubb game underway
Klubb game underway

The day was sunny and breezy, perfect to keep the coals alight and the games fun. The usual mix of beverages arrived with the special addition of some Kinship IPA tapped in the garage ‘frig. Side dishes showed up as well with the winner being Missy’s remarkable seven layer bars. However, the hit of the day seemed to be Isaac’s retro Schmidt Beer aluminum cooler with built-in bottle opener. Adam was unable to join us a a cook this year but made a fine addition to the judging staff. Thanks to those who filled in as judges. Serious work for the seriously committed.

Trays ready for judging
Trays ready for judging

As soon as we can pry it from them we’ll put the top three recipe’s on the site. Note that there are no recipes posted from last year’s winners. Hmmm…

IMG_0343In a hasty short notice fashion we are formally announcing our annual Rib Cook-off the weekend of June 29. The Saturday event will be the same as before with a group of judges deciding on the winners in a series of categories and the public choosing the ribs of the people. No big rule changes this year with the exception that meat may arrive rubbed and marinated. Should be fun, if you are attending bring along a side dish or some beverage to share. Eating and judging begins at 5:00 with people beginning to arrive by mid-afternoon.

Look for items from the event here. The group is warming up with a discussion of the rules and such at the Blue Door this week. We’ll get a posting up as soon as we can.

Past rib events are at this link

Last years judge's row!
Last years judge’s row!

The Wait

Much like the overture to a fine symphony Adam’s Eagan patio was tense as smokers were started and each of the seven contestants moved pork to fire. The smell of hickory, cherry and apple blended with the aroma of cumin, tomato, and Dr. Pepper providing brief scents of what was to follow. Indeed, three of the seven admitted to using soda pop in their recipe. Five of the seven had rubs of some complexity beyond salt and pepper and all had some form of magic bullet sauce. The place looked like a bullet strewn CSI Miami site by the time it was over- red sauces of a variety of consistencies all over the tarmac. Could have been a Sam Peckinpaw set after filming was completed for the day.

Sampling the Competition
Official judges- Serious
Emeritus Judge in Action

Our day began around 10:00 am with judging starting just ahead of 5:00 pm. Seven invited judges and our Judge Emeritus, Scott, took their time and slowly considered one rib from each of the contestants. As they began their work the other attendees made their way through the piles of ribs to give a vote in the Best of Ribs Popular Vote category. Kind of like the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.  This is the first year we have split off the two awards. In the past we had observed  the seriousness and comments of some of the judges and felt we needed to provide a means of supporting their earnest sincerity.

Popular Voting Begins
Popular Winner Samples the Competition
Oldest Smoker

Isaac won the popular vote this year along with the Best Heat category. It was somewhat surprising to many that a fairly inflammatory sauce could win the hearts of the masses. But, nonetheless, Isaac’s Scandinavian confidence in the public won him the category. Amazing that a slightly socialist sauce would win in this political climate. It should be noted that the platter of ribs provided to the popular vote judges was marked “HOT” to save small children and Norwegians in attendance from being exposed to the heat of the moment. The winning popular smoker was the oldest of the collection. Only four letters of the Brinkman label can still be seen.

Overall Winner makes Final Adjustments
Best of Class
Aftermath

The Overall Winner this year was Jeff. As in the past, his secret was in the sauce and although he was a bit candid about the ingredients he did suggest the use of root beer had something to do with the victory. Jeff won our first rib contest using an electric smoker. It was good to see him back in the polyaromatic hydrocarbon world. Being a newlywed, Jeff had the newest smoker- a gift from two of the other contestants. Impressive ribs from an impressive contestant in an impressive device! This year’s trophy was again provided by Doug. Talk of a traveling trophy in the form of a WWF belt was mentioned with Adam knowing the location of a company that makes them.

For those counting, the author stayed true to his, “I make ribs I enjoy” and placed near or at the bottom of the competition again. Also true to form, the ribs he though were best did not place this year. Yet another reason for him to avoid fantasy football leagues. Nonetheless, it was a great day with plenty of good food, two home-brews, many flavors of donated beverages and plenty of sun. Really looking forward to next year’s event.

Modified Kettle 
Modified Smoker
Platters

Preparations have begun for the rib competition on September 2. Adam has completed brewing a batch of barley pop at Vine Park in St. Paul and Brad and Kyle have just completed a batch of English Bitters on the deck. Judging this year will be in two categories. Each of the ManCuisine contestants has been invited to bring one judge that they feel will apply great energy to giving an inspired and fair judgement on the ribs.  In addition all attendees will complete a scoresheet to select the winner in the “Ribs of the proletariat” award. Sorta like the Academy and Golden Globe awards?

Anyway, while moving a large playground this weekend we had a time to talk trash about each other’s rib recipes. Seems that nobody is satisfied with what is coming off the grill yet. Suggestions still welcomed.

 

Scott ready to judge

Waking up this morning to the smell of cooker smoke in my beard that had not come out in last night’s shower -even with the trinity of shampoo, dial soap, and Old Spice uberwash- reminded me of the event yesterday. A wonderful gathering of folks ranging from babies to retirement-approaching parents with lots of niches filled between. Best of class went to Doug with his long-cooking racks and finishing sauce, Kyle pulled in second with his “boiled in Pepsi” slow cooked creation, and Trevor rounded out the class with his technique for cooking that never required him to open the cooker to add wood over the four-plus hours of smoking. Everyone else did a fine job of producing tasty ribs but did not click as loudly with this year’s judges.  We have never seen such a uniformly great and varied collection of racks at the same event. As the two at the bottom congratulated each other a modification of a quote from Steve Jobs was heard “We cook what we enjoy.”

Joan samples the line

This year judges were asked to select one or two of the ribs as “Best in Show” but to give a written comment on each rib. Each cook drew a random secret number and filled paper trays labelled with that number with one rib each. Cooks worked hard to keep their number a secret from the crowd. Although there was some difficulty reading the scoresheets due to BBQ sauce covering many of the responses the winner was determined to be the rib with the most best in show votes. Of the judges Scott (shown above) often is the most detailed and earnest and in keeping with his level of engagement he provided trophies for the first two places and offered his own category of “most heat” which came with a plaque and this year went to Jeff’s entry. Joan is shown here working her way through the seven trays.

Beauty from Isaac

Sources of the pig meat varied greatly this year. Whole Foods Market, Sam’s Club, Costco, Clancey’s Meats and Fish, and the back of a truck unloading at a private country club were all represented. Most of the cooks had practiced on ribs purchased at the great Rainbow Foods rib sale during the summer. The comment was made that perhaps the group should do a group buy and have everyone begin the event with the same rib. The idea is being considered by the executive board and will be taken up at the next outing.

One last comment. Hardware at this year’s even included: Three vertical Brinkman charcoals, one vertical Brinkman electric, one Webber Kettle, one backyard charcoal grill, and one small barrel Brinkman. Adam was new to the vertical cooker world this year but adapted well. Techniques varied from ignoring the grill hoping others might flip the ribs to constant attenuation of the smoke to heat ratio.

The recipe page on the menubar at the top will grow as cooks submit their efforts. It’s time for us to get back to our reviews of local places, as we say- TWO DADS, FOUR SONS, SEVERAL FRIENDS & TOO DAMN LITTLE TIME TO EAT AT ANY PLACE WITHOUT A GREAT STORY.

As the sun sets on August 27 participants at the second rib cook-off are smiling with pork satisfaction. Seven cooks (including Adam) and seventeen judges showed for this year’s event. The cloudy weather spit some rain but the hearty carnivores barely moved. Some fear of potential sauce dilution was discussed and dismissed. Cookers were set ablaze from noon to 1:30 with two of the top three finishers in the smoke for over four hours. Recipes will be posted soon but here’s a quick update from the day.  First some rib facts:

  • 4/7 used a brine, in the top three finishers only #2 brined
  • 6/7 used a rub, the non-rubbed ribs placed #2.
  • 4/7 used sauces, in the top three finishers only #3 avoided sauce
  • benzopyrene is a component of smoke in smokers

The mix of types of ribs was great this year with everything from dry rub only to the full monty mop and slop. Heat varied as well with most of the ribs eschewing heat this year for a more savory mix although at least two packed a wonderful bit of spicy warmth. Five o’clock was the cut and plate time and the collection of ribs on cookie sheets was nothing short of awesome. Once all the cooks had plated enough for the judges and the crowd we stood around the piles of remaining ribs and grazed. All ribs were great with no two ribs tasting even close to the same.

We’ll post the recipes soon along with some comments from the judges on each recipe. This year the cooking of the ribs seemed to count as much as the flavors added to them (including the smoke). We’ll be sure to relate cooking tips for those of you looking to get to the grill. A change in rules for next year will allow any judge from one year to cook in the next year’s competition.

One Chef's Ribs

Date and times set. The seven members of ManCuisine will flare on their smokers between 10 and noon this Saturday, August 27th. The eating and judging of these ribs will happen at 5 p.m. at team member Adam’s house @ 733 Hackmore Dr., Eagan.

Being Tech savvy gents, we decided to go on facebook this year to test the social waters. Click attend if you are going to join us on this momentous day!