Smoked Pastrami Dino Ribs

These Dino ribs could be the best bite of pastrami BBQ goodness you will ever experience!
smoked pastrami dino ribs

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Dino ribs, beef plate ribs, or brisket on a stick. If you’re into smoking meat, then you know that dino ribs are one of the best bites in barbecue.

This recipe melds together two worlds: the world of flavorful, crunchy bark, juicy meat, and aromatic smoke and the world of a New York-style deli, rye bread, with the scent of brine lingering in the air. 

This recipe is a labor of love with an 8-day brining process, a specific rub recipe, and a long smoke time, but I promise you it’s worth it.

a single pastrami dino rib being held by a black gloved hand

Smoked Pastrami Dino Ribs

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Ribs – you’ll want 3-bone beef plate ribs or dino ribs. A bit of a specialty item, but you can order them from Porter Road
  • Brine – water, Kosher salt, brown sugar, pink curing salt, cloves, pickling spice, minced garlic, whole black peppercorns
  • Curing salt – also referred to as pink salt (not to be confused with Himalayan pink salt) or Prague Powder #1. Make sure to purchase #1, not #2. The levels of sodium nitrate in #2 are for much longer cures and won’t fully break down in a shorter cure/brine. This is what will give the meat that distinct red color once cooked.
  • Kosher salt – I used Kosher salt for this recipe, so remember that if you use table salt, the volumes are different. A cup of table salt will be far saltier than a cup of Kosher salt. 
  • Pastrami rub – ground black pepper, whole coriander seeds, coriander powder, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, mustard seeds, and mustard powder.
  • Spritz – Bourbon and Worcestershire sauce.

Equipment you’ll need

  • Smoker – an offset, barrel, pit or pellet smoker
  • Wood – I used post oak. Mesquite or Hickory would work well. If you’re running a pellet smoker for this recipe, add a smoke tube to help with smoke penetration and deepen that bark.
  • Pot – large enough to simmer the gallon of water and spices.
  • Brine bag or plastic container – ensure it is large enough for the dino ribs to sit fully submerged in the brine.
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Meat thermometer
  • Spritz bottle
  • Pink butcher paper
  • Towel
  • Cooler or Cambro

How to make Smoked Pastrami Dino Ribs 

1. Prep the ribs

If your ribs are not already trimmed, you’ll want to do this prior to brining them.

Remove all hard fat and silver skin from the top of the ribs. Score the membrane on the bottom of the ribs in a diamond pattern to allow for more seasoning penetration.  

raw dino rib with diagonal slits in it

2. The brine

You can do this one of two ways:

  • Use half a gallon of water to simmer the brine ingredients and pickling spice together, then once it’s done, add about 4 lbs of ice to cool the liquid quickly. This will yield 1 gallon ready to place the meat in immediately.
  • Or you can use a full gallon of water, simmer with the other ingredients, and then wait until it has completely cooled off (this may take a few hours) before adding the meat. 
brine ingredients for dino ribs

Either way, add the water, Kosher salt, pink curing salt, sugar, minced garlic, pickling spice, and peppercorns to a large pot.

Bring to a gentle simmer or low boil, just enough that all salt and sugar are dissolved, then remove from heat. Let the mixture fully cool down to room temp or add the ice. 

brine

I used my food vacuum sealer to create a large, sealed bag for brining. But I regret it! It was not the easiest to maneuver and seal.

large plastic bag with brine being poured into it
My advice is to use a large, stable container for your brine, not a plastic bag.

Add the rack of ribs and the brining liquid into your vessel of choice and refrigerate for eight days.

dino ribs in a sealed plastic bag with the brine

Flip the meat every day or so to make sure the cure is even

As you’re getting towards the end of the eight days, you’ll notice the meat starts to take on a light pink color that resembles pork meat rather than beef. Don’t panic! It’s the curing salt working its magic. 

Once the brining process is complete, remove the ribs from the brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water for 1-2 minutes to remove the salt from the brine.

Once rinsed, pat them dry and let them sit in the refrigerator, uncovered, on a cutting board overnight for best results or at least 2-3 hours.

3. Pastrami rub

I went for a homemade rub rather than purchasing a bottled rub. I like to control the texture and have a mix of fine and coarse grind.

You can grind with a mortal & pestle or a spice grinder, or you can even place it in a Ziploc baggie and crush it with a heavy pan or skillet.

Once you’ve crushed the whole peppercorns, mustard, and coriander seeds, mix them with all other rub ingredients together in a small bowl. 

ingredients for pastrami rub in a black bowl pre grind
ingredients for pastrami rub ground

I like to leave some of the peppercorns/seeds whole or barely crushed, some coarsely crushed, and some finely crushed.

Place your ribs on a large cutting board. Take your time and carefully pat the rub on, pressing it firmly onto the meat.

raw dino rib with pastrami rub
You can use a binder for the rub to adhere better to the ribs.

Cover all sides, even the bottom, in a thick layer of the rub. The more, the merrier. Not only will the flavors pop, but it helps with the dark bark formation. 

4. Fire up the smoker

Preheat your smoker to 250°F.

If you’re using a pellet smoker, start lower, 200-225°F, for the first few hours to get the maximum smoke output. Increase to 250°F after a few hours.

Place your ribs on the smoker bone side down. Close the lid and leave them alone for around two hours. 

raw seasoned dino rib on the smoker

After two hours, the bark will start to set, and you can begin spritzing once every 45-60 minutes.

spritzing a dino rib
I use a 2:1 ratio of bourbon and Worcestershire sauce. Beef stock, beer, or any spritz mixture of your choosing can work well here.

After three to four hours, the meat will be pulling back a few inches from each side of the bones and be thick enough to allow for probe insertion. I don’t typically probe the meat until I hit at least the five-hour mark. 

Dino ribs will typically take 5-7 hours to cook. As a general guideline, you’re looking for a cooked internal temperature of around 203°F.

dino rib with a meat probe sticking out of it

This particular rack wasn’t ready to pull until 210°F; that’s when the meat probed like a stick of soft butter. No resistance whatsoever.  Every piece of meat is different; the intramuscular fat and connective tissue breakdown can vary. 

5. Let them rest

Once your ribs are done, remove them from the smoker to rest.

pastrami dino ribs on pink butcher paper
pastrami dino ribs wrapped in pink butcher paper

My preferred method of resting is wrapping the ribs in a layer of pink butcher paper, then wrapping them in a large towel and placing them in a cooler.

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You can use foil for the wrap, a Cambro, or even the oven if you have a low ‘keep warm’ setting. 

For dino ribs, I shoot for a rest time of at least one hour. But preferably 1.5- 2 hours.

After that rest time, you can slice in between the bones to reveal those beautifully cured red ribs with a crusty black and flavorful bark. 

Eat them as is, but there is an ultimate way to serve these up: pastrami, Swiss cheese, and spicy brown mustard on lightly toasted rye bread. If you like sauerkraut, you can absolutely put together the ultimate Reuben Sandwich.

pastrami dino sandwhich

Try your hand at some more homemade rubs

smoked pastrami dino ribs

Smoked Pastrami Dino Ribs

Beautifully cured red ribs with a crusty black New York style pastrami bark.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Brine time: 8 days
Total Time: 8 days 6 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 975kcal
Author: Caressa Woodward

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs Rack of 3 Bone Plate, or Dino Ribs

Brine

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup Kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tsp pink curing salt or Prague
  • 8 cloves garlic minced or crushed
  • cup pickling spice
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns whole

Rub

  • ¼ cup black peppercorns whole
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds whole
  • 2 tsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1.5 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns course grind
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder

Spritz

  • ½ cup Bourbon
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • Trim any hard fat and silver skin off the topside of the ribs. Do not remove the membrane on the bottom/bone side. Score the membrane in a diamond pattern.
  • Place dino ribs in a large container or brine bag and pour brine mixture over the ribs ensuring they are fully submerged.
  • Put the container in the refrigerator and brine for eight days. Turn the ribs every day or two to ensure even curing.
  • After eight days, remove the ribs from the container and discard the brine.
  • Rinse the ribs thoroughly under cold running water for 1-2 minutes to remove excess salt.
  • Pat dry. Place uncovered in the refrigerator preferably overnight or at least 2-3 hours to dry out.
  • If using an offset, barrel, or pit smoker, preheat 250℉. If using a pellet smoker, preheat to 200℉ degrees and add a smoke tube if you have one.
  • Place the ribs on the smoker, bone side down, with the lid down, and let smoke undisturbed for 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours, begin spritzing meat every 45-60 minutes to help maintain moisture and build bark. If using a pellet smoker increase the temperature to 250℉.
  • After 5 hours, insert a temperature probe and assess the internal temp. As a general guideline, you are looking for a cooked internal temperature of around 203℉. Smoke time can range between 5-7 hours. The best assessment is the level of resistance when inserting the probe. When there is no resistance and the meat probes like a soft stick of butter, that’s when they’re ready.
  • When ready remove from smoker, and wrap in pink butcher paper or foil. Wrap in a large towel, and place in a cooler. You can use a cambro type vessel, sleeve, or place in the oven on a low temperature ‘keep warm’ setting. Rest for at least 1 hour, up to 2-3 hours.
  • Once the rack has rested sufficiently slice between the bones.

Brine

  • In a large pot add 1 gallon of water and all the brine ingredients. Bring to a simmer until the sugar and salt dissolve, then remove from heat and cool completely.

Rub

  • Grind the whole black peppercorns, whole coriander seeds, and whole mustard seeds with a mortal & pestle or a blender.
  • Mix together with all other rub ingredients in a small bowl. 

Spritz

  • Add all ingredients to a spritz bottle and give it a good shake.

Notes

There are two methods for making brine:
  • Use half a gallon of water to simmer the brining ingredients and pickling spice together, then once it’s done, add about 4 lbs of ice to cool the liquid quickly. This will yield 1 gallon that is ready to place the meat in immediately.
  • Or you can use a full gallon of water, simmer with the other ingredients, and then wait until it has completely cooled off (this may take a few hours) before adding the meat. 

Nutrition

Calories: 975kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 69g | Fat: 69g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 33g | Cholesterol: 245mg | Sodium: 5527mg | Potassium: 1646mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 188IU | Vitamin C: 127mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 10mg
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