Melt-in-your-mouth, succulent beef ribs
The recipe below for low and slow smoked Jacobs Ladder but check out the braising methods as well.
SERVES: 4 – 6
PREP TIME: 5 mins
COOKING TIME: 5 hrs – 7 hrs (low and slow)
IDEAL FOR: special occasion, crowd-please, barbecue
BUDGET: £ – ££
Stairway to heaven
Jacobs Ladder is cooked low and slow which means unbelievably melt-in-your-mouth tender meat.
In the UK we call it Jacobs Ladder but also goes by the name Short Ribs.
The name, Jacobs Ladder, comes from religious mythology (or the fact it looks like a ladder).
If you didn’t know, the ladder represents a stairway connecting earth and heaven that Jacob dreamed of in Genesis.
So it stands to reason that this succulent cut of beef is considered a ‘stairway to heaven’
Buy in advance
Although, it’s not a cut that a lot of people use, it’s still best to order in advance as they can be in short supply.
Firstly, because there is not a lot that comes from the animal.
And secondly, anyone who knows about them will beat you to them!
But don’t be put off, get them ordered as you’ll want to give this cut a go.
3 tasty versions to enjoy Jacobs Ladder
Jacobs Ladder, aka the short rib, has a very high-fat content.
But don’t stress, this makes it perfect for low and slow cooking.
There are a few different ways to approach the cooking of Jacobs Ladder, all with delicious results.
My current favourite because it’s summer and gives me an excuse to potter in the garden while cooking, is to smoke it.
Check out 3 great ideas for all seasons or if you just want to mix it up.
This is more of a classical method.
You simply sear off the ribs in a large heavy pan, add your mirepoix, a small amount of roux and a little milk or water to thicken the sauce.
Add some red wine and cook slowly (approx. 3-4hrs on around 160C) until the meat is nice and tender.
Serve it with some creamy mash and vegetables.
Tip: cook it a day before eating and you’ll get even more delicious flavours as they’ve had time to develop.
The opposite of the braising method.
Take the meat off the bone, cut it into very thin slices and cook it very quickly on the grill.
BBQ low and slow
This method means a good long session on your BBQ.
Smoke the meat with some nice wood chips like oak.
You can keep it simple with a classic rub of salt and pepper on mustard or check out some dry ribs, here.
Get your barbecue to around 110C/225F or 120C/250F degrees.
Place the ribs on the grill, bone side down to protect the meat, leave for around 5 hours (size/thickness dependant).
And let the low and slow cook work its magic.
A guide to timings:
- 1″ thick meat about 5 hours
- 1.5″ thick meat about 7 hours
- 2″ thick meat about 10 hours
The aim is to get your ribs to get to an internal temperature 93C/200F.
This is when the fat all melts away, and the texture of the ribs is soft like butter (not spongy).
Check out the recipe below for details on how to low and slow cook your Jacobs Ladder.
You won’t be disappointed.
Smoked Jacobs Ladder aka Beef Short Ribs
- 1.5 kg Jacobs Ladder (beef short ribs) (or 4 – 5 large ribs)
- 4 tbsp English mustard (or enhough to cover the meat)
- 4 tbsp (or equal parts of ) salt and fresh ground pepper
- (**Brining: you can salt the meat in advance, up to 24 hours. This is called dry brining and helps the water retention (juiciness). But you need to do the below step first re-skin removal).
- Get your smoker or BBQ (with lid) to 121C (225F) ready for your ribs.
- Ribs prep: Start by removing the very tough silverskin from the top of the meat as this will not melt and no seasoning or smoke will penetrate it.
- Next, make your rub. Cover the ribs with mustard then cover with a dry rub of equal parts of salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Just before you add your ribs to the smoker, add a small handful of oak wood chips (not too many as it will overpower the meat).Now, place beef on the grill with the bones facing down onto the grill.If you have a meat thermometer that can go inside the smoker, push the probe in so you can read the internal temperature without opening the lid (I recommend buying one, they are very useful).You shouldn't really need to add any more charcoal.
- Now, leave to cook for 5 hours (or up to 7 hrs depending on the thickness of the ribs) until the meat becomes tender and almost falls off the bone. You want the internal temperature to hit 93C/200 – 205F)
- Note: Wrapping. This is a technique that some keen smokers say is a 'must-do' and others think it is unnecessary. I'll leave it to you to experiment. But if you do, then when your meat hits 93C/200 – 205F, you wrap the meat in tinfoil or butchers paper, then again in towels and rest for at least another hour.