A recipe! I didn't plan on doing recipes on this blog, really, but why not? It's getting hotter, people have started having barbecues and I had a camera handy whilst cooking up some short ribs.
Short ribs (2kg = four big pieces, the meat of which will shrink). These are cut 'English style', with the bone and flesh separated into individual chunks. A good butcher will cut them in different styles though, if necessary. Speaking of good butchers, I got my short ribs from The Ginger Pig. They probably won't be on display so ask for them - they'll get out a beef forequarter that has been hanging and will expertly cut your short ribs off. Make sure to watch out for the butcher trimming the fat off the meat. It looks like jerky, due to the dry ageing, and smells incredible. Anyway they'll charge you £6.50 per kg for the short ribs; an absolute bargain for some well aged, well marbled meat from one of the best butchers in London, with the caveat being that they need to be cooked low and slow.
Spice rub. This will provide a Texas barbecue style dry rub, and ideally will be applied to the meat the day before you are going to smoke it. Just before is fine, but at least an hour will allow some of the flavours to permeate the flesh and give more flavour to the meat. The rub I use contains:
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
You can just go for some salt, pepper and garlic, but I like the smokey and sweet flavours of the paprikas, and the hints of onion along with the spiciness of the cayenne. Grind together and put into a shaker if you have one, otherwise you can apply it simply with your hands.
Wood chips. I used oak which was steeped in whisky for this recipe, which is fine, but I find hickory to be ideal for beef. You can purchase some hickory wood chips on a site such as SoCal. Make sure to soak for half an hour before putting on your coals, and then drain thoroughly, to increase the flavour.
A smoker (or a normal barbecue with a lid). I use this bullet smoker, burned body and all, which acts as a sort of smoky oven with a lid placed on top, and the racks provide a perfect indirect heat. You could just use a normal barbecue though, moving the coals to one side and placing a lid on top, though this looks more impressive, I suppose.
Meat thermometer. Ideally you'd use one that cost more than £2, but as long as it vaguely lets you know the internal temperature, you'll be fine. You could even go without one, as the ribs should, if cooked correctly, fork apart easily.
Apply the rub. Tenderly massage the short ribs like you mean it; like no one is looking; like they're paying you for it.
Set up the barbecue. Light the coals. When they're white and settled, add some wood chips. If your barbecue has a built in thermometer, check it and make sure it reads 220 degrees fahrenheit. IMPORTANT: this heat has to be kept at a constant - this is the most important thing when smoking food, it would seem. Add the ribs with the bone facing the bottom of the grill (flesh side up). Optional: add a water bowl to the barbecue to keep the air moist. This can also be filled with whisky, vodka, beer, apple juice. Anything, pretty much.
Check the ribs regularly - once an hour, to be precise. Add more wood chips when needed (not that often). Bear in mind that the smoke is just flavouring the meat, and not cooking it - the heat is, so needs to be kept an eye on.
Don't worry if they look burned, that's how they're meant to look. The meat will have shrunk after about four hours, exposing some of the bone and will be easy to pull apart. Let it rest for about twenty minutes, before either gnawing on the meat like Fred Flintstone, or forking off to make 'pulled beef'.