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Bob Hart’s recipe for grilled and braised beef ribs


A question I have often been asked is whether or not it is possible to slow-cook – braise, perhaps – serious chunks of meat like, say, chunky beef ribs on a gas barbecue. And the answer? No problem…

Pick up 2kg of beef ribs – short ribs, perhaps, or a couple of those stonking great whole ribs, each knocked into three. Any serious butcher will have or will obtain these for you and, if not, change butchers. Do not expect to find them in a supermarket which, in my view, is no place from which to source serious meat, anyway.

Sprinkle the ribs generously with sea salt and my multi-purpose dry rub from any of my books, or your favourite dry rub, and place them in a large. resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight, or longer if you like.

Now, fire up a gas pr charcoal grill and prepare some braising liquid in a grill-friendly baking dish or, my preference, a large Le Creuset pan by combining two small bottles of beer, 1 1/2 cups of water, 2 tbs raw sugar, two flattened (but unpeeled) garlic cloves and several sprigs of fresh thyme.

Lightly oil (with EV olive oil) the ribs and return them to room temperature. Also, slice three red onions into thick (1.5cm) rounds, spike each round with a metal skewer to hold the rings together, oil and season. Clean and lightly oil the grill which should be at close to 220C. Place the ribs and the onions on it.

Cook them, moving them through 90 degrees after three minutes on the first side, and cook for a total of six minutes a side – covered, of course. Remove the onions and add to the braising liquid at this stage and continue to sear the ribs until they are comprehensively charred. Depending on the power of your grill, you may need to reduce the heat slightly while doing this, but keep the temperature fairly high. But actual cremation, as in life, should be avoided.

Now lift the grill-marked, caramelised ribs off the grill and place in the pan with the braising liquid. Cover with heavy foil or a lid and place on the grill, reducing all burners to low and turning off the burner under the pan completely once a temperature of around 160 C has been reached in the barbecue. Or, alternatively, by placing a heat deflector in position.

Cook, covered, for around 2 hours, or until the ribs are becoming tender.

Remove the foil and continue to cook the ribs, barbecue lid still down of course, until they are further caramelised and meltingly tender when you test them with a long, thin fork, and the sauce has thickened. If more liquid is required at any stage, simply use water. Do not let the pan boil dry.

Lift the ribs and onions from the tray with a perforated spoon and place on a warm serving dish. Tent with foil. Strain the sauce, ideally into a fat separating jug if you have one, or into a bowl and allow to settle before skimming off the fat. Use the thick liquid remaining as a sauce for the ribs, which are best served on steamed rice, mash, or simply with boiled spuds. Be amazed.