Smoked Beef Ribs with Roasted Tomato Harissa

If you love beef brisket, but don’t have time to smoke for 20 hours, then I suggest trying your hand at smoking beef chuck ribs. They take less than half the time, they are a bit more forgiving if you haven’t mastered your technique yet, and they taste fantastic!

We are keeping things simple and seasoning the ribs with salt and pepper, then smoking them for 7 hours. What about that beautiful crimson exterior? Surely there must be some barbecue rub or sauce, right? Not at all. That tantalizing barbecue color comes purely from the smoke. This recipe includes a flavorful harissa with roasted pepper and onion, but you could just as well serve these beef ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. I recommend our Onion Marmalade Barbecue Sauce if you are interested in going that route.

If you plan on using your Hybrid Fire Grill instead of a smoker, read ahead to the note at the end of the recipe for tips on how to do this.

By Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Serves Generously serves 6
Image of Smoked Beef Ribs with Roasted Tomato Harissa

  • 2 3-bone chuck rib racks, about 5 pounds each
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper

​​For the Harissa

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion, halved through the equator, papery skin left on
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 fresh red chiles, such as Fresno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar (we love Blis 9 Maple Solera Sherry Vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Prepare the smoker for 225°F smoking with oak wood for flavor. We recommend preheating the Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet for 1 hour before putting in the food.

Liberally season the beef ribs all over with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, until right before you put it in the smoker. By putting cold meat into the smoker, you are able to create a better developed smoke ring.

Place the rib racks into the smoker with the bones on the bottom. If available, insert a meat thermometer (the Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet includes one with the pit computer) into the thickest portion of one rack, making sure to not get it close to the bones. Set the meat thermometer alarm to 200°F.

Beef Ribs in the Kalamazoo Smoker Cabinet

Beef ribs smoking in the Kalamazoo charcoal smoker cabinet

Smoke the meat, maintaining constant smoke, until the internal temperature reaches 200°F, about 7 to 8 hours, depending on the thickness of the meat.

While the ribs are smoking, make the harissa. Begin by preheating a grill for direct grilling with a multi-zone fire. One zone of the grill should be as hot as possible for roasting the red pepper. Two zones are needed for the onion, one zone with MEDIUM heat, and another with LOW or indirect heat (in a Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill, you can use the warming rack area above the MEDIUM zone for the indirect cooking).

Roast the red pepper until the skin is black all over, about 15 minutes, then remove it from the grill and place it in a bowl covered by a plate. Let it steam like this until the onion is ready.

Place the onion halves on the grill grate over the MEDIUM-hot fire with the cut sides down. Leave there until quite charred, about 5 minutes. Then move to the LOW heat or indirect zone, close the lid, and continue cooking until soft, about 15 minutes more.

Once cool, remove the outer layer of the onion. Chop the onion and place in the vessel of a blender or food processor. Discard the stem, skin and seeds from the bell pepper. Roughly chop the flesh and add it to the vessel. Add all of the other ingredients and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until the ribs are done.

Smoked Beef Ribs with Harissa

Once the ribs have reached 200°F internal temperature, remove them from the smoker. Wrap them in foil and let them rest for about 30 minutes. The ideal internal temperature for serving the ribs is around 140°F. Slice them into individual ribs and serve with the harissa for dipping.

Note: If you would like to smoke these ribs in the Hybrid Fire Grill, we have described a few methods in our Barbecue Techniques Grilling Guide. We recommend following option one, and placing the ribs on the warming rack.