Butchers, Beef, and Three Hours of Smoke

Here in the Great Lakes, a local butcher is a good person to know. Let’s say one day you walk in looking for something unique to throw on the smoker. No, not pork belly. We’ve done that. Beef brisket, done it. Most of the standard fare, we’ve covered. If you’re a regular like Tom and you’ve caught the butcher when things are not busy, they just might invite you to the backroom to take a look at the half cow they are preparing for the day and ask you “What looks interesting?” That is how he ended up with a six pound, custom cut, beef short rib from the folks at Clancy’s Meat & Fish. If you are able to procure such a glorious cut of beef, here is one of our recommended preparations:

Smoked Beef Short Ribs

Spice Mix

Mix together 1 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon five spice powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon powdered ginger. Then add just enough olive oil to wet the mixture and make a paste.

Prepare the Beef Ribs

Coat the entire beef short ribs with the mixture, wrap with plastic wrap and allow to marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Fire up your smoker, apple wood and oak chips are recommended. When smoker settles to approximately 250 degrees, throw the beef ribs on, bone side down over indirect heat. We placed a pan with Sprecher Oktoberfest underneath to catch dripping which later became a pan sauce. Smoke for about 3 hours or until internal temperature reaches 185 degrees. The meat will pull easily away from the bone. It should look something like this:


Beef Ribs1


We enjoyed the smoked ribs two ways – the first evening we had a slab of beef with sauteed kale, potato rosti, and creamed corn. The corn was a roadside farmer’s stand find which we creamed with buttermilk and Carr Valley Cheese’s Dancing Sheep Fontina, picked up earlier directly from the one of the Carr Valley locations. The ribs were deeply smoked and unbelievably rich in flavor as the inter-muscular fat had partially rendered and left the beef really moist, the sugars caramelized into a crisp exterior shell of spicy goodness.

The next day we sliced leftover smoked ribs into 1/4 inch slices, served two slices on a multi-grain sourdough toast, topped with oven-roasted tomatoes and Carr Valley Cheese’s Smoked Gorgonzola (same recipe for the tomatoes as our past version of a steak sandwich).

Beef Ribs2

These were rich, decadently fatty and creamy, with the concentrated tang of the oven-roasted tomatoes adding a nice contrast. If you have the opportunity to enjoy them lakeside on a brilliantly sunny afternoon, alongside friends and family, they may be even better. This is Great Lakes living. This is Great Lakes cuisine.

Clancy’s Meat & Fish is a great little butcher shop in the Minneapolis area. In Madison, talk to the folks at Underground Meats which we featured in a previous post. In Milwaukee, Bunzel’s Old Fashioned Meat Market is a great family-run butcher or Bavette La Boucherie offers a very European-style shop. Wherever you are, find a real butcher, explore different cuts, ask them what they think, if you like their stuff keep going back. A local butcher is a good person to know.


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