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Bob Hart’s recipe for braised beef ribs

BRAISING ON THE BARBIE

Simply because I believe that cooking on a barbecue hotplate is both dim-witted and an offence against nature does not mean I am opposed to braising sensibly on the barbie: I am not.

The problem with hotplates lies in the way they cut off heat flow through your barbecue, which most people, surely, can work out for themselves. Also, it should be noted that while barbecue grills impart grill marks onto barbecued food, hotplates merely impart skid marks.

And if, as a basic life rule, you can avoid eating food displaying skid marks, so much the better…

Also, while hotplates are a disaster for the reasons I have mentioned, there is no fault to be found with placing a cast-iron (or similar) frypan on the grill, and cooking in that. It’s the logical way to cook bacon and eggs, for example. Or flapjacks. Or Argentina’s pan de chapa barbecued bread (Heat & Smoke II) which I adore, and suggest you try if you have not done so. Or even if you have…

But best of all, the pan-on-the-grill approach is a means of cooking, on an ordinary, covered gas barbecue, one of those low-and-slow beef dishes that illustrate the incomparable flavour qualities of real barbecue. Try this:

You can use a large, cast-iron pan if you have one, a baking dish or even a large foil tray provided it fits comfortably on your grill with the top down for this glorious dish of braised, meaty beef ribs in an unforgettable beer and onion sauce.

You will need, ideally, a couple of kgs of beef ribs – short ribs, perhaps, or a couple of those stonking great whole beef ribs which your butcher will happily knock into three for you. Or should…

Sprinkle them generously with the all-purpose rub from any of my books or a pre-made one from your local barbecue shop, salt them generously and put them in a large, resealable plastic bag in your fridge overnight.

Now, fire up your gas grill and prepare your braising liquid in the pan or whatever you are using by mixing two bottles of beer (I use wheat beer for this, but any beer works) with half that quantity of water, a couple of garlic cloves and a few large sprigs of thyme.

Finally, thickly slice three red onions across and slide metal skewers into the slices to hold them together as they cook.

Ensure your grill is very hot (220C), clean and oiled and toss on the ribs, searing them, and moving them around on the grill occasionally, for a total of about 10-12 minutes with the lid down. They should be well charred and deeply grill-marked. And place the onion rings on the grill with them, moving them around, also, to get them well charred.

Now, place your pan or baking dish on the grill, pour in the braising liquid and lift in the beef ribs and the onion, removing the skewers. Reduce the heat to low (turning off the centre burner if you need to), cover with foil and drop the lid. Cook for a couple of hours at around the 160C mark.

To complete the dish, remove the foil and continue to cook the ribs until they are meltingly tender, and the sauce has thickened. Do not let the pan boil dry, and add water if it needs it.

Finally, lift out the ribs and the onions with a slotted spoon, place on a warm serving dish and cover with foil. Then strain the sauce into a jog or bowl and allow to settle before skimming off as much of the fat as you choose to.

Then, serve the sauce with the ribs. Mercy!

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