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Beef Rib membrane: minority report?

StanleyStanley Posts: 623
edited 8:18AM in EggHead Forum
A couple of weeks ago I posted about my beef back ribs, which turned out very good. In that and related threads there was a bit of discussion about the membrane (actually two of them) and the difficulty involved in removing them. I removed as much of both as possible, scraping with a knife to get as much of the fat layer connected with the 2nd membrane as possible. According to Cooks Illustrated, I made a big mistake. The video on the link below provides instructions for genuine Texas BBQ beef ribs. They say it's important to leave the membrane on - that it seals in flavor and that the fat layer provides its own bacon-like flavor that the Texans called "candy". They use a Weber kettle, and it sure pleases me that I don't have to go through all of their gyrations to achieve indirect and to control temperature. The keys of their method include a "less is better" approach to spice rub. Theirs is mostly chili powder, with S&P and cayenne, but only about a tsp. per side per rib. They cook "between 250° and 300°" for only 2 to 2.5 hours, with a handful-sized chunk of hickory at the beginning and another one hour in. They start meat side down and flip at the one hour point. They use a fork test to check doneness - they are not after fall off the bone, but rather some chew factor. No saucing, but a dipping sauce on the table. While they show some eating at the end of the video, they don't show any gnawing of meat from bone to give an idea just how chewy the results are. I'm a bit concerned about their short cook time, but I might try the leaving the membrane thing. Comments welcome (especially from Texans!).


  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,793
    Just a small side note. Some time ago there was a discussion on the BBQ forum about pulling the membrane on pork ribs. It was mentioned that the well-known Billy Bones did not remove the membrane on his spares. However, he did raise the heat to 400 right at the end to burn the membrane off.

    Not too long ago a local store had a special on beef ribs like the ones in the Cook's vid. A friend and I both bought a bunch. I pulled the membrane on mine, and was quite happy with the result. His said he didn't pull the membrane on his, and was disappointed at how tough the meat was.
  • KlagKlag Posts: 208
    That membrane is SOOO big and so thick, I can't stand it on my ribs. I love the flavor of the Dizzy Pig Cow Lick rub and I prefer it penetrates the bottom side of the ribs and gets into the meat.

    It's easy to test with beef ribs since they cook so well when you cut them into smaller slabs (like that video). Test it next time with the membrane left on a small slab.

    I bet those restaurants she visted in that video were just too lazy to remove those membranes off all 50 million slabs they cook, so they made up the story that it's better left on :)
  • InksmythInksmyth Posts: 308
    Love those beef ribs. I never pull the membrane. I agree with the texans. It helps seal in the good stuff. Don't worry about short cook time. A good quality beef rib is tender enough as is.
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