Cook the Book

Beef Ribs From 'Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook'

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[Photograph: Paul Winch-Furness]

The four partners from the London BBQ restaurant Pitt Cue Co. are serious about their meat. In the new (to the U.S.) Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook, they strongly encourage home cooks to get serious, too, and for these outstanding beef ribs, they stress, "The quality of the beef here is everything". I tried to get high-quality meat, but I can't say it was the rare-breed, dry-aged beef that they extol. Nonetheless, this recipe turned out unctuous, crazy flavorful ribs. It is one of the simpler preparations in the book, requiring only the ribs and the house rub; sauce is optional and unnecessary. The rub—smoky, spicy and sweet—shows up in many of their recipes, including tomorrow's smoked roast chicken, which is good, because you end up with a lot of it. (Actually, I rubbed it over a pile of chicken wings to stretch the meal for a crowd, and lordy, they were good!) And they suggest serving these ribs with some of those dynamite pickled shiitakes that I raved about yesterday. This is a great example of how you kind of have to commit to the book as a whole, because so many of the recipes interconnect and share components.

Why I picked this recipe: Um, do you see the picture? I wanted to eat that. Also, it had minimal elements and *only* took 6 hours. And because I'm not super-skilled at the grill, I liked that they said the ribs could live through some fluctuation in temperature.

What worked: The rub was delicious. Want to rub it on everything. The fatty ribs responded so well to the long smoking, and the flavor of the meat + the rub was intense and worthwhile.

What didn't: Maybe it was the particular cut of ribs, or perhaps my grill temp dipped too low at times (I kept peeking), but the ribs could have used a little longer. They were not as tender as they could have been had the collagen in the meat been given more time to break down into gelatin (see, I learned things!). But they do say that the cooking times are very loose guides, so I'll take the fall on this one.

Suggested tweaks: If you're not terribly handy with a butcher's knife, when you buy your ribs, see if the butcher will take off the membrane for you. It really was a bit of a pain to remove, as they do forewarn. And make one of the sauces that they suggest, or buy your favorite bottle, but know that the ribs are perfectly delicious all on their own.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have 5 copies of Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook, to give away this week.

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