This recipe for mesquite smoked beef ribs is a nod to my snowbird friends in Arizona, where mesquite is a popular smoking wood. They come out of the smoker tender and juicy thanks to using the 3-2-1 rib smoking method.
If you're not familiar with that technique, it consists of three hours of smoking uncovered, then wrapping the ribs in foil and cooking for another two hours. Finally they're removed from the foil and cooked one more hour to build the tasty crust.
Low and slow is the rule when smoking beef ribs. I try to maintain the smoker temperature as close to 225° Fahrenheit as possible. Cooking at a higher temperature will cause the ribs to lose moisture and become dry and chewy.
As you can see in the picture, I prefer to smoke ribs and other meats on a rack placed over a sheet-pan to help keep the smoker clean. The smaller racks are occasionally soaked in water for a while, then scrubbed clean.
The smoker I'm experimenting with these days is a Char-Broil propane smoker. It's been working well for me. I especially like the pan above the flame that holds both wood chips and water. The water in the pan helps keep the meat moist as it smokes, and also helps in regulating an even smoker temperature.
Wind can wreak havoc with some styles of propane smokers. It was a little difficult trying to maintain an even temperature today smoking the beef ribs. I usually try to block the gusts by either parking my truck nearby or propping a sheet of plywood against a chair on the windward side.
I've read that some people lean 12" ceramic floor tiles around the base of the smoke to block wind. However, blocking the access to fresh air at the smoker base could be unsafe, possibly causing fire or explosion. The Char-Broil User Manual for this smoker cautions that it should be positioned at least 3 feet away from any surface.
My recipe for the mesquite smoked beef ribs turned out pretty good today, but the smoker temperature ran a little hotter than I'd planned for. You can see in the picture that the meat pulled off the bones more than it should have.
But in spite of the temperature control problem, those smoked ribs sure were tender! They tasted great, too.