Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beef Ribs in DFW

A recent question posed by Nancy Nichols over at SideDish about readers' preferences between pork and beef ribs, I started to wonder how many joints in DFW still serve them. After searching the web and my memory for those who still offer these behemoths, it seemed that they had become an endangered rib species. I decided I would scour the Metroplex to find some fine beef rib examples, and determine where to find the best.

Big Al's Smokehouse: Big Al's uses back ribs rather than the meatier short ribs. These ribs are generally cleaned to the bone so the butcher can charge prime rib prices rather than beef rib prices for the meat, but Big Al's has found a supplier in Dallas that leaves some meat on the ribs. A thin sweet glaze covers the meat which has well rendered fat throughout, but lacks a robust smokiness. Overall the ribs are good, but short ribs would provide more meat. If you want a pile of them, stop by for lunch on Thursdays when they're the special.

Bluebonnet Bar-B-Que: Whole Foods smoke these short ribs in house. While a similar cut to beef back ribs, short ribs have more meat, and much more fat. This helps keep them moist as long as they're cooked slow. These behemonths had definitely been slow smoked as the meat was very moist and plenty tender and could be pulled cleanly from the bone. Unfortunately, the crust had become tough and chewy after hours of heat lamp fueled storage which probably contributed to the meat falling from the bone. Because of the thickness of the meat, it's hard to penetrate very far beneath that crust until the smoke flavor disappears, creating a double whammy against the chewy crust.

Riscky's Bar-B-Q: This joint cuts their ribs down to a reasonable size for handling, but you can expect a heap on your plate, especially if you order the all-you-can eat plate at just under $10. The crust was well formed, but the smokiness was lacking a bit. These ribs were a bit chewy, but the fat was well rendered, and the flavor was beefy and bold. They, like Big Al's, use the back rib, but this one provides a bit more meat on the bone.

Pappas Bar-B-Q: You can get four of these on a beef rib plate, or two of these monsters on a combo plate. I watched as the knife man cut these from the bone, and he is generous. Only three bones are used out of a five bone rack, so each of the three remaining bones gets a bigger hunk of meat clinging to it. Although it was sauced, the meat flavor still shined through. I knew from previus visits that the sauce here actually complements the meat. Moist without being too tneder, this meat still needed some tooth tug to release it from the bone. A good crust ahd formed although a good level of smokiness was only really evident a the meaty rib end. This was a solid and generous performance.

Smoke: Known as "The Big Rib" on the menu, this behemoth beef ribs is actually an undivided short rib that extends to both ends of the plate. The large amount of intramuscular fat creates some incredibly moist meat since the fat is so well rendered. A dark, salty crust holds plenty of smokey flavor, while a sauce of reduced beef stock, garlic and dried mint create a complex flavor profile that a bit too heavy on the salt. Each bite holds a ton of beefy flavor, though it takes some work to separate meat from fat. Altogether, this was fine example of moist, tender Texas BBQ.

Cooper's Old Time Pit BBQ: The last rib I tried was from the recently opened location of Cooper's in the Ft. Worth Stockyards. These short ribs are huge and meaty, but are overseasoned and fatty. If they were cooked lower and slower, the fat in these ribs might have a chance to render out, but the high heat cooking used here doesn't allow that process to take place. The heavy salt and black pepper rub overwhelms the flavor of the meat, and very little smokiness is evident. The flavor of the meat below the crust is decent, but the overall just doesn't warrant an order here.

Rankings -
- Smoke
- Big Al's Smokehouse
- Pappas Bar-B-Q
- Bluebonnet Bar-B-Que
- Riscky's
- Cooper's

- BBQ Snob

1 comment:

Dicky said...

what about sundays only @ Love and War in Texas Plano...great AYCE beef ribs from 11am until they're gone(usually before 3pm)


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.