Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dutch Oven Beef Ribs

My wife and I just recently joined a local food co-op. It's a kind of interesting way to get food, especially stuff grown and produced locally. We got our first share last saturday, and come sunday, I was looking it all over and trying to figure out what I could do with it. One of the meat things that came in our share was two racks of beef ribs, with four bones each. I was surprised just how big beef ribs are, compared to pork ribs (which is what most people barbecue).

Anyway, I dug in and did some research, looking for a good recipe, and a good process. There were all kinds of methods: grilling, braising, baking, roasting. Some were a combination of two or three methods. One thing seemed consistent. The longer it takes to cook them, the more tender and delicious. So, today's ribs have been brought to you by "Low and Slow" cooking.

Finally, after looking at all the options, my wife said, "Grandma Bev used to make the most delicious ribs with this Barbecue sauce based on brown sugar, catsup, and mustard. Why don't you try that?"

In the interests of both nostalgia and simplicity, I decided to give it a try. What I came up with isn't much of a recipe in the traditional sense of the word. It's more of a set of instructions. You can make it work with the things you have on hand.

Dutch Oven Beef Ribs

12" Dutch Oven

6-7 Coals below
14-16 Coals above

The Meat

  • 2-3 racks (4 bones each) of beef ribs

The Veggies

  • Some sliced onions
  • Some sliced Green onions
  • Some minced garlic
  • Some halved cherry tomatoes
  • Some sliced celery
  • And anything else you care to add in. Mushrooms would have tasted good, too, if I'd had any.

The Sauce

  • About a generous cup of brown sugar
  • Catsup
  • Mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Some kind of hot spice (Cayenne Pepper or Chili powder)

I started out prepping the veggies, slicing them up, etc. I got some coals burning and poured a bunch out on my little Dutch Oven table. I put the dutch oven on the coals, with some olive oil (a couple of tablespoons) to heat up for sauteeing.

Once the oil was hot and the veggies sliced, I put the two kinds of onions and the garlic in to sautee. I'd stir it from moment to moment, but at that point, I turned my attention to the sauce.

I started with a bowl and put in about a cup of brown sugar. From that point on, I went simply by taste. I added some catsup and some mustard (about even amounts of each) and started tasting. It was weird tasting these condiments cold with nothing to put them on, but I was working out the proportions. In the end, I added more and more mustard. But then, I'm a big mustard fan. Salt brought out the other flavors, and pepper is just great to add to anything, in my opinion. The hot spice I added to just give it an edge. I just went along, adding and tasting, adding and tasting, until I got it to where I wanted it.

And in between that, I was stirring the veggies.

Once the sauce was mixed right, I poured about half of it into a ziplock baggie. I cut the ribs apart, and added the meat to the baggie. I shook it all up to coat the ribs.

Back out on the dutch oven, I added the rest of the vegetables and then layered the meat on top.

I adjusted the coals as above. These coals listed above are arranged in a baking configuration. You could probably also do a more roasting sort of arrangement by putting 10-11 coals on the bottom and the same amount on top. Remember that in this case, you'll be cooking with less heat for a longer time, so if you're going to make a mistake, make it on the lower side of the scale.

From that point on, cooking was simply a matter of making sure that there were a constant supply of fresh coals to add on. I cooked the ribs for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, in total. Wow, they tasted amazingly, fall-off-the-bone good.

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: The Zeezrom Syndrome, Keyword Analysis Research,

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