When it comes to true BBQ the meats of choice are almost always beef or pork. Let’s face it, chicken is usually grilled, not BBQ’d. Pork usually has enough fat content to ensure that the meat stays juicy. Beef, on the other hand, is often lean enough that the BBQ’ing process can result in a dry, chewy, and tastless hunk of meat. The marinade I’m about to give up is the secret to my tasty ribs, grill steaks, and even fajitas. I’ve been torn — as a web-host I need to give (otherwise why would you visit my website), but as a cook I hate to give up my best kept secret!

This marinade will work on just about any cut of beef (although the better the cut, the less likely it is to need a marinade). I developed it for my beef ribs, but it soon was being used every time I bought a cheaper cut of beef for the grill. I wouldn’t use it on “good” steaks, but if you buy those cheapo grill steaks (and who doesn’t ?) then this baby will give them a flavor you won’t believe. If you want to mix things up a little, take a cheap grill steak, slice it into thin strips, soak in this marinade for about an hour, then grill ‘em (high heat, cooked fast). Add some homemade salsa, lettuce, cheese, grilled onions and peppers, and a margarita or two, and you’ll have the best fajitas in your neighborhood!

Since this marinade was developed with ribs in mind, let’s concentrate there — as you develop other uses for it I hope you’ll remember to email them to me so I can share them with the world.

First - the meat. Beef ribs can actually be difficult to find in some areas. Beef ribs are attached, you see, to the prime rib roast. Unfortunately for us ribs lovers, the best way to cook a prime rib is with the bones — so they often don’t make it to your butcher as a separate item. I was lucky enough to live in Reno for a while — land of casinos and buffets. Buffets don’t like the bone-on prime rib roast, so they usually order them with the bones removed. This means that the rib bones end up in the butchers case — usually at a very reduced price since most people want pork ribs. If you don’t live in a land of endless buffets find a good butcher, develop a relationship with him/her, and request some meaty beef ribs — you won’t be disappointed!

There are two way to cook beef ribs — you can grill them (high and fast) like a steak, or you can BBQ them (low and slow) like ...well ... most people. Grilled like a steak, ribs only take 10-15 minutes to cook, they stay juicy (since you sear in the juices,) and they taste more like a well marbled steak than anything. To be honest, while I love slow-cooked, smoked, ribs, I actually prefer them cooked fast ... maybe I’m just weird. Give it a try and let me know which you prefer.

The best thing about slow-cooked, smoked beef ribs (besides the flavor, of course), is how they present on the plate. When you cook a big slab of beef ribs over a low heat, all that meat shrinks up and condenses to a 4-6 once “fillet” at the thick end of the bone. When you cut them apart they literally look like beef popsicles — a naked bone sticking out of that perfect chunk of meat on the end. Talk about letting your inner caveman out — pick it up by the bone and gnaw the meat off the other end (better than a turkey leg any day!)