Islandy BBQ Beef Shortribs

By David J. Stewart

       This is a favorite barbeque recipe in Hawaii and some other islandy places. The secret is in the marinade. You may prefer boneless beef short ribs, but I like them with the bones because I think the meat is more flavorful. I ask the butcher to make them "thin cut." The photo to the right is thick cut.

This recipe is for about 4-5 lbs of meat.

Marinade Ingredients:

Combine all the ingredients into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag or large bowl. Place meat strips into the marinade. If in a baggie, seal it and shake the bag a bit. Marinade for 6-8 hours. While barbequing, I sometimes like to re-dip the meat into the marinade because it tastes so great. They're delicious! You can also marinade chicken. The longer the meat marinates, the stronger the flavor will be.

Safety tip: Please DON'T dip the cooked meat into the marinade after it is no longer going on the grill, because you don't want to contaminate cooked meat with raw meat juices. Although it likely wouldn't make you sick, why take chances? Uncooked meat juices could make you sick if any food contamination is present. Heat kills any bacteria. If you want to dip cooked meat into marinade, BEFORE YOU MARINATE THE MEAT, pour a little of the original marinade in a separate bowl when you make it, so it will never have any raw meat in it. That is safe to use.

Variations: Personally, I don't like any of the variations, I just use the basic simple recipe above. However, variations include adding a teaspoon or two of fresh black pepper, a tablespoon of Worchester sauce, a teaspoon of mustard powder, some diced green onions, or possibly even a teaspoon of Sesame oil for an Asian essence. You may want to add a few lemon slices as well. Some people prefer more or less vinegar, or no vinegar, but I think a 4-to-1 ratio is perfect. Use more vinegar if you like the vinegar tang to your meat. Lemon juice can be used instead of vinegar. I use whatever I have available, usually both. You may also add one or two Tablespoons of sugar if you want a sweet essence to the flavor. I like it both ways. I use brown sugar for a nice flavor. The sugar helps the meat to blacken when placed over the barbeque fire. I love that charbroiled flavor. You may want to experiment with the different ingredients to suit your preferences, but like I said, I just use the basic simple recipe above.

Barbecue Techniques

I've learned a few barbeque techniques over the years that most people don't know. A lot of people just dump their charcoal into the barbeque, like I used to do; but a better method is to make a pyramid so that the heat can center within the pyramid. This way you won't have to re-ignite your charcoal a dozen times to make it go. Also, you don't need to cover the entire grill. In fact, it's best not to so you can move food to the sides when it is almost done to prevent burning. Also, a lot of people burn their food because the heat is too high. A lower heat and a longer time to cook makes the meat more juicy. Never poke your meat with a fork or knife because it'll let all the juices out. Cooking low and slow makes meat more juicy. This is true primarily for chicken and thicker cuts of meat.

For thin-cut shortribs it really doesn't matter. You want to get them over the fire to get that charbroiled flavor, yet you don't want them to burn. What I do is wait for the fire to get going really good, as if the meat if burning, and then cover it with the barbeque lid to put the fire out. Let the meat smoke for a couple minutes, then remove the lid again to turn the meat, and get the fire going. The meat cooks quit this way. There's no exact way to barbeque. Whatever works is fine. The important thing is to get that fire directly applied to the meat for a couple minutes to get that awesome flavor. The trick is not to burn your meat. Amazingly, the meat may seem to be burning at one point, but that is the best cooking, just don't leave the grill unattended or it will burn.

Perhaps keep a little spray bottle handy with water, to control the fire. I just put the lid on the barbeque, which also works. Keep the barbeque air vents partially. This helps keep the meat from burning and also makes the meat more flavorful from the smoke. The key is not to have the heat too high. I used to put way too much charcoal in my grill, which produced way too much heat and dried out the meat. Just make a small pyramid in the middle, almost to the underside of the cooking grill. Turn the meat often. You can lay the charcoal flat if you're just going to cook for 15 minutes for a small meal. I do that frequently, so conserve charcoal.

And believe it or not, an electric fan on a tall stand is great for getting a stubborn fire going. Fire needs air and a fan provides forced air. Personally, I don't use a fan, but I've seen other people use it and it works. Just an idea. Shortribs are one of my favorite meals. I always buy the thin-cut beef shortribs because they cook better. And I always buy the bone-in cuts of meat. The bones give it a nice flavor. Enjoy!

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