Meaty, Recipes

Home-smoked ribs

One of the things I love the most about real BBQ is the deep richness that comes from slow, low cooking in a smoker. Sadly, as I live in a first floor flat without any kind of outdoor space (apart from a windowsill and that is hardly going to accommodate a big fat Weber), I have been unable to indulge in such antics.

Rubbish.

However, I have been toying around with the idea of using my stove-top smoker to infuse the meat and then my conventional oven to finish the cooking and I have to say I think I’ve come up trumps. When you use a proper cold-smoker you need to keep a tray of water near the meat to help keep it moist and control the temperature of the smoke – otherwise you’ll end up some charred, dry unpleasantness that will make you sad. Now, I know that you can put metal hot-smokers in the oven but I didn’t want to go down that road for a two-hour cooking session as there is nowhere to put a tray of water that would benefit the process. Nor did I want my oven to smell like a bonfire for the next few weeks (smoky cake anyone?) so I decided to use the hot-smoker on the hob and then transfer the meat to a baking dish and put liquid in that before covering the whole lot and cooking at a low temperature for a good couple of hours. Simple.

I used a rub based on the excellent Pitt Cue Co recipe – I would have followed it exactly but didn’t have all the ingredients – and let the meat sit overnight before smoking. After finishing in the oven I have to say the results were fantastic! Although there wasn’t exactly the smoke ring through the meat that is the sign of proper BBQ, there was a bit of char and a good ‘bark’ (if you eat enough BBQ you’ll know what I mean) and, above all, there was a glorious smoky flavour that ran through the whole thing. It was quite staggeringly good. I’m going to make it again. Probably rather soon. So, here we go….

Note that the following quantity makes a large amount of rub but it keeps really well in a sealed container for a few weeks. Also, make sure you remove the thin membrane on the ribs – if you turn them so the curved side is down, use a sharp knife to carefully separate the membrane from the meat and then pull the whole thing off. It may or may not come off in one go. And yes, it is alarmingly satisfying.

Finally, if you haven’t got any liquid smoke don’t worry – it works fine with just water. Or bourbon. Or both…

Ingredients

For the rub:

  • 5g fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 onion powder
  • 50g fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

Along with:

  • 1 rack baby-back ribs (membrane removed)
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • a glug of bourbon
  • 100ml water
  • BBQ sauce for glazing

Method

First, make the rub. In a dry pan lightly toast the fennel, cumin, pepper, and coriander until they begin to smell amazing then remove and allow to cool. Blitz with the rest of the spices in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.

Next, prepare the ribs. It is worth making sure they will fit easily in your smoker – you may find you have to cut the rack into portions but that won’t matter. Having removed the membrane from the rack, rub the whole lot generously with your, er, rub, cover, and put in the fridge overnight. If you have space put the ribs on a wire rack to let any liquid drip out but it’s not a disaster if your fridge is too mini.

The following day, remove the ribs from the fridge and pat them dry with some kitchen paper and allow to come back up to room temperature.

Prepare your smoker – I used oak chippings but any decent strong flavour will do – put the meat on the rack in the drip tray over a handful of chippings, put the lid on and place over a high heat until it begins to smoulder and then turn your hob down low. Cook the ribs for 30 mins then remove from the smoker.

While your kitchen is slowly turning into a smoky den (make sure you have all your windows open!!!), put a small wire rack in a roasting tray and add your liquids to the bottom. Pre-heat your oven to Gas mark 2/150c.

When your ribs are smoked, put them on the rack and cover the tray with foil then put in the oven for at least two hours, checking occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary.

After waiting patiently and smelling the increasingly awesome aroma that will be filling your kitchen, remove the tray and have a look at the meat – the outside will flake away and the meat should be tender and easily come away from the bone.

Glaze with BBQ sauce and finish under a hot grill to add an extra layer of gloss and decadence.

Eat without delay with pickles and any other BBQ delights you may have. I found some burnt ends kicking about so I had them too….

Ribs and burnt ends

Ribs and burnt ends

NB – I got the burnt ends from Bodeans who supply excellent pre-cooked BBQ packs to take away…

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Bready, Meaty, Recipes, Snacky

Braised pork cider buns

wpid-dsc_051222.jpg.jpegThis is an adaptation of the brilliant bierocks recipe by the Hairy Bikers. Meat-filled bread buns are a staple of many different countries and this is my interpretation – pretty straightforward to make and they freeze really well. If you want a deeper flavour mix half and half cider and pork stock for the stew. Make sure the mixture isn’t too wet when you fill the dough otherwise you’ll find yourself covered in a porky doughy gloop…
Makes about 20

For the dough
500g strong white bread flour
300ml dry cider
5g fast-action yeast
5g salt
1tbsp caster sugar (or honey)
1tbsp olive oil

For the filling
Olive oil for frying
500g diced pork shoulder
1 onion – diced
1 clove garlic – chopped
1-2 carrots – diced
500ml cider (or good pork stock)
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1-2 sprigs if thyme, leaves picked and chopped
Salt and pepper

Method
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3.
Season the pork with salt and pepper
In a large ovenproof casserole dish or pan, heat the oil then add the pork shoulder and brown the meat on all sides then remove and set aside.
In the same pan, add a splash of cider to deglaze and then add the onion, garlic, and carrot and cook gently until soft.
Stir in the mustard and cook for a minute then add the browned pork shoulder, thyme and cider and bring to the boil then cover and transfer to the pre-heated oven for 2-3 hours until the pork is falling apart. Check every now and then to make sure it isn’t drying out, adding more cider/water as required.
When the pork is ready, shred it with a fork and, if the mixture is still very saucy, return to the hob and reduce until it is just coating the meat and veg.
Set aside in a bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, make the dough by combining the flour, cider, yeast, salt, sugar and oil in a large bowl.
Mix it together with your hands until you have a rough dough then knead on a clean work surface for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and springy. Roll it into a tight round ball.
Place in a clean bowl and pour a glug of oil over the dough then cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until roughly doubled in size.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Knock back the dough and divide into 20 balls of as equal a size as possible, then roll each ball out into a disc about the same size as a saucer – dusting each one with flour as you go.
When everything is ready, put about 2tsps of the stew into the centre of each disc and brush the edges with water then pull the sides of the disc up over the pork mix and seal tightly (you may need a bit more water). Place each one on the lined sheets with the seal at the bottom.
Once you’ve filled all the buns, cover with a clean tea towel and leave for about 20mins until doubled in size.
Place the sheets in a preheated oven at gas mark 4 and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.
Enjoy hot or cold!

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Meaty, Recipes

Cheeky Bolognaise

This is a version I’ve adapted over the years from a combination of books, tasting, and my Mum’s recipe.

I’m sure you have recipes for a bolognaise sauce but this is a really tasty version!

Serves  6

Ingredients

250g Pancetta or smoky streaky bacon – chopped

1kg Minced Beef (or 500g beef, 500g pork)

Sprig of Rosemary – finely chopped.

2-3 cloves garlic – finely chopped

2 onions – finely chopped

2 carrots – finely chopped

2 sticks of celery – finely chopped

2 bay leaves

1 tin chopped tomatoes

Squirt of tomato puree

Squirt of ketchup

1 large glass red wine

Dash of Lea and Perrins

½ teaspoon of paprika

½ dried chili

Salt and Pepper

Basil – chopped or dried (or both)

Olive Oil

 

Method

Mix the mince in a bowl with some salt and pepper to season.

In a large saucepan, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high heat then add the chopped rosemary and fry for half a minute to flavour the oil.

Add the chopped pancetta and fry until it begins to turn a golden colour.

Add the celery, carrot,  garlic and onion and sweat for a few minutes until it softens.

Now add the seasoned mince and stir the whole lot together until it is lightly browned.

Add the tinned tomatoes, ketchup and puree and mix the whole lot together then add the wine, Lea and Perrins, bay leaves, chili and paprika.

Stir the whole lots together and bring to the boil then turn down the heat, cover and gently simmer for 1 ½-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Season to taste. If it looks like it may be a bit dry, add some water or stock. About ½ hour before finishing, stir in the basil.

You can adjust quantities to however big or small you like and it freezes really well!

Tip!

If you want a thicker sauce, blitz the carrot, celery, garlic and onion in a food processor to a chunky paste.

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