British summertime is here! PANIC… Everyone BBQ!!!
That seems to be the supermarket's strategy year in year out in this country, it's like end of days every weekend in the aisles with bags of briquettes crammed in every available space and deals on sausages and chicken cuts.
I’ve said for some time now that although I like BBQs, I’ve always just preferred the idea of eating good food outside. The Italians do this right with ‘al fresco’ dining. For a while, I have romanticised of 8-course lunches on white linen tables with seafood, pasta, meats and wine to match. All spread over 4-5 hours in a meadow with friends and family on a hot sunny day. Although admittedly this probably comes from watching too many Godfathers and mafia themed films.
See I find the idea of burnt sausages, chicken cuts and over/under-cooked steaks and a potato salad a little dull to be honest.
However in the past 4-5 years this has all changed over here in Blighty. The continuing popularity of North American BBQing in street food and relaxed dining scene with many small businesses emerging across the UK shows just how serious we are about cooking over coals. And with events like Grillstock (meat, music & Mayhem!) being held throughout the country showcasing not only up and running business but also awards and competitions for amateurs and enthusiasts, BBQing has now been raised to another level. I was lucky enough be invited to be a judge at the Grillstock Manchester in the 'Chefs Choice’ category and over the weekend got to hang with traders, Dr. BBQ and drinking buddy Dr. SweetSmoke.
This is what I learnt, use the right equipment, use the best quality ingredients and don’t rush. The time and passion that goes into BBQ is what makes it so special with most recipes taking between 3-12 hours, low and slow (also giving lots of time to socialise ;) So with a weekend spent asking questions and happily being given answers (thank you guys). I’ve come back with a recipe that is simple but tastes great. I'm using beef short ribs that are for me the 'King of BBQ' meats and has such deep and meaty flavour. I’ve decided not ‘smoke’ them as I find it can be a little too overpowering and by marinating overnight with the dry rub I think it will add more than enough flavour.
The slaw with the creamy blue cheese, sweet pear and crunch from the cabbage works perfectly with the dark, charcoaled ribs. I also served with homemade triple cooked chips making it a special feast. Sautéed new potatoes will work just as well if deep frying is a bit too much. Many thanks to Team Smokin' Penguin for the amazing rub, it packs so much flavour and really made the dish. Also Dr. Sweet Smoke (thanks, Al) for answering all my never ending questions.
Oh, as I got to explain my visions of ‘al fresco’ dining over a late beer or two with Dr. Sweet Smoke to which in a slight southern drawl he replied… “Andy, grow some balls and man up, boy. It's all about BBQ!" Indeed, it is :)
FOR THE Beef Short ribs:
- 4 large beef short ribs on the bone
- 1 cup/large handful of smoking penguins beef rub or any other BBQ dry rub
- 2/3 bottles of beer of your choice
FOR THE Pear, walnut & Blue Cheese Slaw:
- 1/2 small head of white cabbage cored & thinly sliced
- 1 pear, cored and julienned (skin on)
- 1 banana shallot or red onion, thinly slicked
- 1 handful of roughly chopped walnuts
- 100g blue cheese
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 4 tbsp soured cream
- 2 tbsp cider/white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- salt & pepper
- BBQ (kamado ideal)
- baking tray and wire rack (that fits into your bbq with lid on)
- large mixing bowls
For the Beef Short Ribs:
The night before place the ribs into a large bowl and scatter all over with the dry rub mixture, toss a few times to combine then individually wrap each rib tightly in clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.
*Don't be tempted to use olive oil as it creates an additional barrier and doesn't let the rub penetrate into the meat.
The next day, before noon, if you want to be eating at a sensible time ;) Take the ribs out of the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature.
Light your BBQ and allow the coals to come up to a high heat. Seal of the ribs, getting caramelisation and a deep brown colour all over. Remove from the grill and rest the ribs on a baking tray with the wire rack.
Add heat defectors to the BBQ if applicable or push the coals to one side for lower temp cooking. Return the grills back and place lid back on. Using vents on top and bottom of BBQ ‘choke’ the airflow to reduce the cooking temperature to 125C or 250F.
Once the above temperature has been reached, remove the lid from the BBQ and place the baking tray with ribs on the grill. Pour the beer over and around the ribs leaving a gap between the beer and ribs on the baking tray (the steam from the beer will keep the ribs moist while cooking). Make sure not to submerge the ribs in beer and end up braising them.
Return the lid and cook for around 5 hours, topping up with beer if necessary and basting every hour. After the 5 hours, cover the tray tightly with foil and cook for a further hour, this method giving the ribs an extra injection of moisture.
Remove the foil and cook for a further hour again without basting to create a delicious BBQ ‘bark’/crunchy crust and remember to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Keep an eye on the temperature while cooking making sure you maintain low and slow.
For the Pear, Walnut & Blue Cheese slaw:
In a small bowl mix, all the wet and dairy ingredients until well combined. Then in a large bowl combine the pear, cabbage, shallot, and parsley. Pour the wet mixture over and stir through to combine. Season with salt and pepper and top with a handful of chopped walnuts.
Serve together on a large board with plenty of yummy beers.
*Remember timing is the key to food service. While the ribs are resting, this gives you time to clear down and mix the slaw.