Beef Ribs and Tomato Pie

I’ve used my Bubba Keg a lot over the last couple of years, and I love cooking on it. There’s one thing my XL Big Green Egg has over the Bubba Keg, though… size! I think it’s almost double the size of the Bubba Keg. And it really is easy to use, too.

I tried out some new charcoal recently, Grill Mark. I found a 17.6 pound bag at my favorite local Ace Hardware store in Centerville, Ohio, for $10.50. That seemed cheap, but I grabbed a bag. I’m glad I did because it seems pretty good! It lights quickly, and seemed to last a good amount of time on both the Weber Kettle and Big Green Egg.

I haven’t done a brisket in a while, just out of not taking the time to do so, but I wanted to get some of the flavor in less time. I could have cooked a brisket at a higher temp, or, instead, I decided to try some beef ribs, which includes brisket-like meat! I wish I’d gotten back ribs, but I could only find spares… They’re still good, but back ribs seem to have more meat on them. And to go with the ribs, I did a variation on tomato pie that became my favorite tomato pie right away!

Beef ribs rubbed

Tomato pie is done

I used the same rub that I used previously on pork, a mix of equal parts ground coffee and brown sugar, with half as much ancho chile, and salt and pepper to taste. The thing I did differently, though, was to make this dry rub into a web rub by adding just enough bourbon to the mix to get make a bit of a paste. If you know me, you may be able to guess that I don’t have rot gut bourbon around the house; I used Maker’s Mark, which is my choice in the bourbon category. My brother, Robert, may choose something else as he’s more into that type of whiskey than I am, but Maker’s is all I have around the house. I added about a shot or so to the rub and smeared it all over the rubs, after cutting them into pairs. I cut them down to get more rub on them, actually.

The ribs went on the BGE at 225F, and they took about 5 hours to cook. With the coffee and sugar in the rub, the ribs got dark, but I left them dry.

Beef ribs smoking on the BGE

While the ribs were cooking, I started the tomato pie by slicing (not peeling) several heirloom tomatoes and placing them in a wide colander with salt on the slices to let them drain. I just salted them lightly; I’ve tried putting more on to get more water out of the slices, but the salt doesn’t rinse off well, and the pie will be too salty.

I used what’s become my go-to crust, Jacque Pepin’s pate brisee recipe. That went into a pie pan, and I baked it, with pie weights, in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes, until the crust just started to brown.

pie crust

The crust was topped with 2 cups of grated cheddar with about half a cup of mayo mixed together.

add cheese/mayo

About 10 basil leaves were added, and about a teaspoon of chopped tarragon and another of oregano, all fresh (and all from the herb garden… Don’t you love herb gardens???).

top with herbs

The slices of tomato were placed strategically. With heirlooms of different sizes and colors, it’s best to mix up the slices a bit. I put in 2 layers of medium sliced tomatoes then, though I think next time I’ll slice the tomatoes thinner and put in another layer. The pie went on the BGE after the ribs came off and the temp was up to 375F.

Put in tomato slices and bake

After about 20-25 minutes, the pie came off the BGE and was ready to serve after cooling for about 15 minutes. I thought it would be mushy and watery, but it was easy to slice and serve, and tasted great. The crust had a nice flakiness from the butter and smokiness from the grill, and the tomato slices had a great taste with the edges of the skins slightly charred. This was a great tomato pie!

Tomato pie slice

The combo of the two dishes was great, and it wasn’t until I was done eating that I realized I forgot to get a shot of the meal! I will say the bourbon in the rub was de-li-ci-ous!

We have about 7 heirloom tomato plants, so I’m trying to think of other ways to use tomatoes other than just sliced and served or in a blt… How do you use your tomatoes? It’s good to try new try new things!

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.


  1. I’ve been thinking about buying one of the Kamado-style grills. It sounds like you might recommend the keg over the ceramic ones. Is that the case? The negatives I’ve read about the keg are that (1) if it gets too hot, it’s hard to cool down and (2) the ceramics are better in general at holding low temps. That sound about right?


  2. Ryan,

    I like both. My Bubba Keg (now Big Steel Keg) is the size of a large BGE, but my BGE is the XL. It’s a lot bigger than the Bubba Keg. I’ve been able to keep the Bubba Keg at 175 for hours and hours, so it does low temp great. it heats up well, too. However, the BGE, due to the size and capacity, gets even hotter; I’ve done pizzas at around 750 on there, in 2 minutes, and you’d think they came out of a very expensive wood fired pizza oven.

    With either, a BBQ Guru or Stoker will keep low temps for long, long cooks.

    If I were buying a large size today, I’d go for the Big Steel Keg, due to the price and cast iron grate with the second cantilevered grate. Both have the ability to lower the main grate, but the Big Steel Keg is easier in that way, too. I think the steel with oven insulation is better insulated, and the weight is quite a bit less.
    Curt recently posted..Beef Ribs and Tomato PieMy Profile

  3. I love beef ribs. I like them even better than pork ribs now.
    Chris recently posted..Reverse Seared Cowboy Steak SandwichMy Profile

  4. Ryan, I have a large BGE. Did you do the ribs over indirect heat using a plate setter?

  5. Rod,

    I used a platesetter, and kept temps low at 225.

  6. This tomato pie looks scrumptious. What a great meal idea with the beef ribs.
    Russell at Chasing Delicious recently posted..Peach and Blackberry Bread PuddingMy Profile

  7. Russell,
    Thanks! The pie was great, and beef ribs are hard to beat.

    I was just doing a search for a good ice cream recipe, as my wife and I just got a KitchenAid ice cream attachment to try out… and thought grilled peach ice cream would be good… Lo and behold, the recipes that came up had yours in the first few! I’ll have to give it a try this weekend.
    Curt recently posted..Beef Ribs and Tomato PieMy Profile

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