Grandpa’s Barbecued Pastramied Short Ribs

What these ribs and traditional pastrami have in common is the spicing, an aromatic mixture of coriander, mustard seed, and garlic.


Grandpa’s Barbecued Pastramied Short Ribs

Recipe Notes

  • Advance Prep: At least 12 hours for marinating the ribs
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Equipment: 1-1/2 cups wood chips or chunks, soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained


For the ribs and wet rub:

  • 3 to 4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 whole star anise, broken in pieces, or 1 teaspoon aniseed or ground anise
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 large head of garlic (8 to 10 cloves), broken into individual cloves, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil

For the mop sauce:

  • 1 cup ginger ale
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)

  • Your favorite barbecue sauce, for serving

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Prepare the ribs: Using a sharp knife, deeply score the meaty top part of each rib in a crosshatch pattern. The cuts should be about 1/2 inch deep and 1/2 inch apart. Place the ribs in a nonreactive roasting pan.

Step 2: Make the wet rub: Place the coriander seeds, peppercorns, anise, mustard seeds, and brown sugar in a mortar and, using a pestle, pound them until coarsely crushed. Or, you can crush them in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, running the machine in short bursts. Pound in or puree the garlic and the 2 tablespoons of salt. Add enough oil to obtain a thick paste.

Step 3: Using a spatula, spread the wet rub over the ribs on all sides. Cover the ribs tightly with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Step 4: Just before you plan to grill, make the mop sauce: Place the ginger ale, vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small nonreactive bowl and whisk until the salt dissolves. Set the mop sauce aside.

Step 5: Set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (325° to 350°F). Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill under the grate.

Step 6: When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the ribs bone side down in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. Toss the wood chips on the coals. Cover the grill and cook the ribs for 45 minutes.

Step 7: Baste the ribs on both sides with the mop sauce. Re-cover the grill and continue cooking the ribs until cooked through and very tender, 45 minutes to 1-1/4 hours longer, 1-1/2 to 2 hours in all. Mop the ribs once or twice more and, if they start to brown too much after 1-1/2 hours, wrap them with aluminum foil. Replenish the coals as needed.

Step 8: Transfer the ribs to a platter or plates and let rest for a few minutes. Serve the ribs with the barbecue sauce of your choice.

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