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David Carter’s barbecue beef short ribs with pickled red chillies
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4 x packs British beef short ribs (8 ribs), approx 2 kg in total
For the rub
1 tsp onion granules
2 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
2½ tsp demerara sugar
1 tsp English mustard powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp salt
For the barbecue sauce
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 small onion, very finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
120ml Essential cider vinegar
120ml cloudy apple juice
30g dark brown soft sugar, plus an extra 10g if needed
50ml Worcestershire sauce
250ml Essential tomato ketchup
For the pickled red chillies
4 long red chillies, thinly sliced
80ml Essential cider vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar, more to taste
1 Remove the ribs from the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Preheat a barbecue smoker to 120°C, using wood chips or a regular barbecue using a smoking box. Preheat the oven to 160°C, gas mark 3, if cooking indoors.
2 To make the rub, gently toast the onion and garlic granules, fennel, cumin, peppercorns, chilli flakes and thyme in a pan over a low heat until aromatic and turning golden. Combine with the demerara sugar. Using a spice blender or pestle and mortar, grind to a fine powder. Tip this into a bowl and mix in the remaining rub ingredients.
3 Generously season the ribs with the dry rub. Smoke the ribs for 4 hours in the smoker until they form a dark mahogany bark (crust) on the outside. If using a regular barbecue and smoking box, prepare the barbecue for indirect grilling by pushing the hot coals to one side and placing a drip tray on the other. Put the ribs, meat-side up, on the rack above the tray. Put the lid on the barbecue, making sure any top vents are half-open, and maintain a temperature of 120°C by closing the bottom vent to reduce the heat (you can also check the temperature by putting a meat thermometer in the top vent every so often); cook for 4 hours, adding more coals if needed. If cooking indoors, put the ribs onto a large baking tray and roast for 2 hours.
4 Once the bark forms, wrap each rib in foil to continue the final part of the cooking. Return to the smoker or barbecue for 1 hour more, or to the oven for 45 minutes.
5 Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce. Put the oil into a medium saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10-15 minutes until the onions are translucent and beginning to caramelise.
6 Stir in the spices and let them toast in the onion pan for 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Let it reduce down to a syrup, about 5 minutes. Add in the apple juice and reduce this to a syrup too, another 5 minutes.
7 Stir in the sugar and Worcestershire sauce, cook for 2 minutes until the sugar dissolves, then stir in the ketchup. Simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes to allow the ingredients to come together as a dark and glossy sauce. Season with salt and the extra sugar to taste, if needed.
8 To make the pickled chillies, put the chillies, vinegar, 40ml water and the caster sugar into a small pan. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and take the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. This will allow the chillies to gently soften but not overcook.
9 When the ribs have completed smoking, the meat should be tender and pull easily from the bone, and a probe will show an internal temperature of 80-85°C. Allow to rest in the foil while you prepare the barbecue. If you are making ahead, cool the ribs completely, and keep covered in the fridge until you are ready to barbecue.
10 Prepare the barbecue with a medium-high fire, or preheat the grill to high if cooking inside. Unwrap the ribs, brush them with the residual beef fat that has gathered in the foil, then place on the barbecue, or on the grill rack. The fat will prevent the meat from sticking to the grill.
11 Turn the ribs every 2 minutes while brushing them with the barbecue sauce, repeating this process 3 to 4 times until glazed, sticky and caramelised. Serve with the pickled red chillies, drained from their liquor.
For something with a bit more zing, you can make a mustard barbecue sauce from the ingredients above. Drain the liquor from the pickled chillies, and mix in 2 heaped tbsp French’s Classic Yellow mustard, and 1 tsp black pepper. Stir this into half of the above barbecue sauce.
Typical values per serving:
This recipe was first published in August 2021.