Beef ribs are in the spotlight lately. It’s all about the flavor: a well-cooked beef rib is just as succulent as a perfectly cooked brisket, but with a softer, silkier texture. Louis Mueller’s in Taylor has been cooking beef ribs since they opened. And Pecan Lodge in Dallas has gotten a lot of noteriety for theirs lately too. Ronnie Killen plans to serve them when his new barbecue joint opens in Pearland a few months from now.“I think they have become popular because they have so much meat on them. Before the barbecued beef ribs were always dry and chewy,” says Ronnie Killen. “Now, cooked right, they are like the fatty end of the brisket but without all the fat.” Killen’s is cooking two varieties of ribs—the shorter ones are served on barbecue plates, and the big ones are sold by the pound. Since the big ones run from a pound and a half to two pounds, they are best eaten family style—one rib serves two or three people.The two big problems with beef ribs are the inconvenient serving size and the confusing nomenclature. The subject of beef short ribs is a rabbit hole that we won’t venture into here. The ribs can come from three different parts of the animal and are cut in an endless variety of shapes and sizes. The short ribs in the meat case at the grocery store might be any one of these.
Ronnie Killen has resorted to using the numbers from the North American Meat Packers meat buyers’ guide to specify which ones he is talking about. The smaller ones are called chuck short ribs (NAMP 130), and they are easily carved into just the right size for a single serving. The giant ones are called plate short ribs (NAMP 123A), and Killen’s sells these by the pound. The 123A Ronnie Killen is holding in the photo weighs a pound and half—at $12 a pound, that’s an $18 beef rib.