Slow Cooked Beef Ribs

Before we set off for Spain and the kingdom of the pig, we had one final beef-feast meal in England. We have a local butcher, a young man called Ben who is passionate about locally sourced, organic meat and providing new and exciting cuts of meat to his customers. We love to shop at his store and make the most of what he recommends.

Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (5)

The other week it was beef ribs, something I hadn’t eaten for years. Put images of the court of Henry VIII out of your mind, with massive roasts supported by half a cow. Something like that just wouldn’t fit in our modern day ovens! I bought six ribs which I asked him to separate into individual ribs, so that I could slow cook them. I had anticipated 2 ribs per person but after our prawn starter, we managed 4 ribs between 3 people – I leave it to you to decide if, like me, “your eyes are greedier than your belly” (as my grandmother used to say)!

It’s not a complicated dish to prepare, the impact of flavour comes from the long, slow cooking which can also be done in a conventional oven.

Ingredients (to feed 4-6 people)

  • 6 beef ribs, separated into individual ribs
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • A large sprig of rosemary
  • A glass of red wine (plus one for the cook)
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • Maldon (or kosher) salt

Heat a griddle pan to high and switch your slow cooker on to heat (or switch on the oven to low). Sear the ribs on all sides on a high heat until browned. You will probably need to do this in a couple of batches unless you have a huge griddle pan like me!

Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (1)

While they are being browned, gently heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a deep frying pan. Add the garlic and as soon as it starts to soften, add the tomatoes, the tomato purée and the wine.  Bring to a gentle bubble, season lightly and pop the rosemary in. You are not looking to make a finished sauce at this point, just to get it started and to ensure that it’s hot when it goes into the slow cooker or oven.

Put the ribs into either the slow cooker or an oven dish which you can cover. Sprinkle lightly with Maldon salt and pour the sauce over. Cover the pot/slow cooker and be very, very patient. I cooked mine on low in the slow cooker for about 10 hours, turning them over gently 3 or 4 times during this period until the meat was falling off the bones. In a conventional oven I think 5 or 6 hours should be fine, and if you can make the dish a day ahead, even better.

Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (2)

Gently remove the ribs from the sauce, trying to keep the meat with the bones if (like us) you feel cheated if someone else gets your bone.

Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (6)

Put the sauce into a pan, remove the rosemary and reduce for about 10 minutes on a medium heat. If you want a silky smooth sauce, use a hand blender to sort out those little chunks of tomato. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve the ribs with the sauce on the side so that strange folk like Big Man can eat them without and normal folk like me can smother them. Creamy mashed potato is always a good idea.

If you happen to be in beautiful Bexhill, do pop into London Road Butchers and say hello to Ben!

For more slow cooked dishes, why not try Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks or Mustard and Cider Chicken?

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Is the party over yet?

So, 5th January, the night before our celebration of Los Reyes or The Three Kings. Big Man and I sit quietly contemplating the last few celebrations that lie ahead over the weekend.

A family get together at our house the next day. Yes, we´re ready for that. Saturday a lunch with 10 friends in a nearby restaurant. Oh yes, we´re definitely ready for that. No cooking, no clearing up, and hopefully a lift there and back so we can kick back and relax.  And then Sunday, a meal with 10 other friends in one of their Cortijos in the Campo.  Cooking a celebratory goat.  It should be fun, the host is a butcher and a grower of grapes and producer of wines.  A recipe for a thoroughly good lunch.

Big Man gives our butcher pal a call to finalise the arrangements for Sunday and I can tell by his face and the conversation that something is amiss.  He gets off the phone and says “you know we thought we were going to Rafael´s Cortijo…” Mmm, yes I think, where is this going?  “Well, it seems everyone thinks they´re coming here”.

Oh dear. Oh well. Here we go again. Big Man does a mad dash on Saturday morning for the extras we need, I crank up the oven and get baking, and it all turned out fine in the end.

No recipes today, more of those in a later post, but I thought you might like to share a little in the celebration…and our exhaustion today.

We enjoyed a lovely ham and cheese board with Spanish curado and semi curado cheeses, tetilla (do click on the link if you share my childish sense of humour), a gorgeous stinky stilton my parents bought over, and an amazing hard cheese (rather like a fresh parmesan) which is rolled in rosemary.

We ate home cured olives which the Spaniards were most impressed with. They thought Big Man had made them as they didn´t think a “guiri” or foreigner could make them taste so good…huh!

A chicory (or endive) salad with walnuts and blue cheese dressing lightened things up a bit.

Our butcher pal, Rafael, got to work in the garden doing his job. He looks fierce, but he´s really a gentle giant.

Look at the size of his hands – he couldn´t have been anything BUT a butcher!

Jointing the meat.

Working on the ribs.

Another pal took charge of frying the goat pieces in olive oil, bay leaves, chillies, peppercorns, garlic and white wine.

We tucked into a plate of Rafael´s “embutidos” – chorizos and morcilla.

Of course we ate desserts too, but more of those another day as I´m feeling full up again just thinking about what we ate.

And drank.  A very messy but happy table by the end of the day.

Ok, I think I need another lie down now.