Smoked Bourbon Beef Short Ribs

So this post really should be titled “Don’t forget to photograph the sauce”. That is as close to an admission of stupidity as I am going to get. You will note one or two pouring shots further down. One of peppercorns and one of smoked paprika. The sharp eyed amongst you will notice that they are both poured into the same pan and they are both going into the pan empty. The truth is, I was playing around with a couple of lighting approaches. I wanted to be able to really freeze the stuff mid-air. A blur in a pour is a failure. So, I spent about an hour getting the two shots, picking peppercorns off the floor and out from under the fridge as well as cleaning the oven dish repeatedly. I think I got there in the end. However, I should have spent my time thinking about what I was doing. I was preparing Smoked Bourbon Beef Short Ribs and that needs a sauce. It had one. It was delicious. But, I don’t have a picture to prove it. Damn!

But before we get into the pouring stuff, I had better talk a bit about the recipe. My butcher friend has had access to some really impressive short ribs of late. This is a side benefit of the lockdown. They would normally go straight to the restaurant trade. I have been taking advantage. So I decided to prepare Smoked Bourbon Beef Short Ribs as the thought of it makes my mouth water.

Ingredients for the cooking

  • One rack (about 3 kilo) of beef short ribs (Jacob’s Ladder)
  • 2 tablespoons of good quality honey
  • 4 tablespoons of Bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 750ml (pint and a half) of great beef stock

For the barbecue baste

  • 1 tablespoon of good quality honey
  • 2 tablespoons of Bourbon

Though most of the cooking is done in the oven, you will need the barbecue and a way of smoking too.

Grind the peppercorns (I didn’t do this before spending an hour and a half photographing the “perfect pour”). Add them and the paprika to a high sided roasting pan with a lid. Add the bourbon and honey. Stir to combine. Pour it into a plastic bag (a big Ziplock will do fine). Add the beef. Leave this in the fridge overnight, turning every now and again.

The marinade has a fantastic colour.

Take it out of the bag and return it to the roasting pan. Add the beef stock. Put on the lid and roast it at 150ºC (300ºF) for four and a half hours.

I wasn’t too bothered about this pouring shot.

At the end of this process, it will be very tender, it will smell great and it will need to be lifted gently from the roasting tin to the barbecue. Remember t reserve the cooking juices. That is the sauce.

Prepare the barbecue smoker (I used a smoker box with maple chips). Having got the barbecue hot enough for the wood to smoke, turn the heat down to minimum and place the beef on the coolest part of the barbecue. It is cooked and only needs about half an hour of smoking. Mix the baste honey and bourbon together and paint on to the beef as it smokes.

I didn’t get a great shot of the baste either. Though, you get the idea.

Let the meat rest. While it is resting, separate the cooking fat from the rest of the marinade ingredients. Reduce the marinade to thicken it. Carve the beef and serve it with the sauce that I didn’t photograph. The beef should be “fall off the bone” tender and smokey. The sauce should be sweet and umami.

I hardly needed the knife for this beef.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Just before I go, here are the couple of pouring shots that took all that time.

Perfect peppercorn shot
Almost perfect.
Easier to shoot.

The lessons in this are simple. Spend a bit more time thinking about the recipe and a little (a lot) less time trying to get the perfect shot and everything will be a bit better (except the pouring shots).

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Latest comments
  • Man, those will stick to your… well, you know. Personally, I like basting with a nice single Malt, even when I am not cooking.

  • You left out the 3 fingers of bourbon that is supposed to marinate the cook. 😉 Those pouring shots are excellent. In cooking photography, as in certain other hobbies, it is much more exciting to leave something to the imagination, sauce-wise.

  • Gorgeous. I think I’ve mentioned before that short ribs might be my favorite beef cut. They’re just luxurious. I’m not a fan of bourbon, but I’m sure the flavor isn’t too strong. Beautiful photos, as usual.

  • Fantastic pouring shots ! Simple recipe which just needs to be tasted . . . but 🙂 ! No way can I get a piece of meat like that shown here . . . and it is too cold and windy to fire up the barbecue . . . and, Conor, I am not saying ‘poor me’ 🙂 ! I do like the idea of honey, smoked paprika and whisky (in my case) and shall find a way to get your taste on my plate . . . well, approximately !!

  • Can I propose something which would give purpose to the time spent on the shots? I think you need to do a post on The Conor Bofin Guide to Excellent Pouring Shots. Or maybe several posts. Give advice about set-up, lighting, timing, props, etc. Lots of food bloggers would be delighted to achieve your results, and you surely have a mountain of excellent material to select from.
    Having said that, I’m pleased to take your beautiful sauce for granted. Of course it was delicious!

  • i loooove the pouring shots Conor! especially the peppercorn one. this looks like a hearty dish. delicious I’m certain:)

  • I love the smokiness in this recipe. The pouring shots are indeed excellent.

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