A recent Sunday in DFW offered the combination of perfect weather, the start of the NFL season and an interesting package of meats from Texas Beefhouse. So, what a better way to spend the day than smoking beef short ribs and tri-tip steak?
After another hot Texas summer, a cold front brought a cloudy 70-degree day to Posse member Darrell Byers' backyard test kitchen. Darrell grabbed the flatscreen TV from his catering rig and set it up on the patio. With the addition of a couple of cold beers we were set for the Patriots/Texans noon season opener.
Texas Beefhouse owner Tyler DuVall had sent us a mix of Angus beef short ribs and Angus tri-tip steak, along with a couple of huge racks of beef back ribs. A few weeks ago, we had test-cooked some of Texas Beefhouse's steaks to compare their Wagyu vs. Angus offerings. We were impressed.
Darrell had cooked tri-tip one time before, on his grill, and had never smoked either the beef short or back ribs. We were in uncharted territory on this cook as he fired up his backyard Yoder Wichita offset smoker, with a target cooking temp around 225-degrees F.
Darrell is one of the Posse’s most experienced backyard pitmasters, taking cooking classes from Texas greats including Esaul Ramos of 2M Smokehouse and Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue. In fact, he’ll be teaching a brisket class at this year’s Texas State Fair. He plans, eventually, to do professional catering under his Seven Acres Barbecue brand.
Smoking tri-tip steak
First up on the smoker was the tri-tip steak, a triangular cut from a tri-tip roast, which is a small cut from the sirloin. It is also known as a triangle steak or bottom sirloin steak. Tri-tip is to California what brisket is to Texas, basically the “state meat.” It’s relatively inexpensive cut of beef and as we found out later, full of flavor.
After slathering with peanut oil, Darrell rubbed with Hardcore Carnivore Black rub by Jess Pryles, whom he credits with helping him become a better pitmaster with her advice and cooking tips. The jet black color of the rub looked intriguing when rubbed onto the meat. Ingredients include sea salt, garlic, sugar, black pepper, chili powder, onion and activated charcoal.
With a steady fire averaging around 225-degrees as planned, the total cook time for the 2.95 lb. steak was 1 hour, 40 minutes. Darrell pulled the steak when the internal temp in the thickest part of the meat reached 130 degrees, here’s what we thought of the cook:
C: What’s your major takeaway from this cook Darrell, you’ve cooked these before, right?
D: I’ve cooked them one other time and that was on the grill. It was a shorter cook and the meat was nowhere near as tender as this.
C: I just feel like you nailed this cook completely.
D: Taking the time to let it have a low, slow cook, we didn’t need to sear it. It might have been nice to put a little char on it, but it doesn’t need it.
C: It seems to me that the thinner we sliced it the better it got. I could see this on a baguette or especially on a homemade tortilla, anything that’s fresh.
D: I’d like to see this sliced on a charcuterie cutting board, sliced thin just like this. Just soak it in the au jus and pop it in your mouth. We’re not gonna be fancy, we’re gonna eat with our fingers!
C: Maybe with an ice cold beer, something like that.
D: Simple pleasures man, the simple pleasures of life!
Next up, beef ribs
After a successful trip-tip cook and taste test, we broke out the beef ribs. Darrell has smoked full-size beef ribs, but both the short ribs and back ribs were new to him. Inspired by Louie Mueller’s beef rub method, he dialed up a 8/1 pepper/salt mix for both the types. Louie Mueller uses a 9/1 ratio.
After his preferred peanut oil slather, the peppery rub was applied liberally to the meats. The back ribs were on the smoker for 4 hours, 45 minutes and the short ribs came off 45 minutes later when the internal temperature reached 190-degrees. The beef short ribs were the star of the show, though we were surprised by the back ribs after seeing them in the package. Here’s what we thought:
C: What did you think of the cook time on the short ribs, they seem perfectly cooked to me.
D: I thought 190-degrees might have been short, but some parts probed higher. The salt/pepper ratio is just about right too.
C: Would you dial back the pepper now?
D: Maybe a little less, but it doesn’t hurt it. This is what I normally do with a full-plate beef rib.
C: I think this is a great alternative to a full size beef rib. I don’t really think you need more than one bone, they’re over a half a pound each. You’d cook these again, right?
D: I’d absolutely cook these again, they were great. My thought when we cubed up the ends of those short ribs was that they were just so juicy. The first two bites I took, I couldn’t keep from making a mess. It was fat down my chin before I could do anything about it. It was really, really, juicy. Really nice flavor. I liked it.
C: What’s your quick take on the beef back ribs?
D: Well, I had no idea what to expect from them and honestly wasn’t that excited about them. But I can definitely see that this is an excellent quality of beef back ribs. There’s a lot more meat on these than it looks. The middle ribs have some meat on them, a little more than your average pork rib would have
C: Tyler told Gary (Posse member Gary Jacobson) that these were a little skimpy, the batch that he had, but I’m glad we tried them. We kind of know now what we’re talking about.
D: We might have over-seasoned them, but they lend themselves perfectly to salt and pepper. That’s a damned tasty bite right there! It’s a lot of meat and it's super tender.
Editors note: If you have any cooking questions for Darrell, you can reach him at email@example.com.