Smoked Roast Rib, Pickles and Oak-Wine Salt

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


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By Ben Shewry

Published 2012

  • About

When I was nineteen, I went on a seven-month journey through the United States and discovered real American barbecue. The use of wood and smoke to slowly cook meats was a revelation to a young cook from New Zealand. It was a defining period in my career — I developed a lifelong fascination with using wood and charcoal to smoke, perfume, cook and sometimes even burn food.

I have built, over the past seven or so years, four different cold smokers. DIY barbecue and smoking is incredible fun — the results are only limited by one’s imagination (and a desire to wield an angle grinder in a menacing way towards a piece of discarded steel). The first one I constructed with my father, Rob, from an old broken-down fridge. It seemed such a shame to just throw it away so, instead, we gathered construction materials from around the neighbourhood — one 44 gallon drum from the local mechanic, tin duct from the plumber next door — and $25 later, with the help of my angle grinder, the first Attica cold smoker was born. Despite its slightly crude appearance, the old fridge-cum-smoker lasted a couple of years before finally melting away.

Our next inspired smoker was made from an old Chinese dim sim steamer that my business partner, David, procured from eBay. The Dimmy, as we called it, lasted about a year before we decided to get serious about this cold-smoking business.

Typically cold smoking is achieved at temperatures between 26°C (79°F) and 35°C (95°F), which never really seemed that cold to me — more like a kind of warm smoking. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could smoke at lower temperatures, I thought to myself, thus being able to prolong the smoking process and in turn develop deeper and more aromatic smoky flavours. We could also then smoke more heat-sensitive ingredients such as curd cheeses and cold-pressed extra virgin oils.

To that end, David purchased a very large stainless-steel, completely operational refrigerator and we had an electrician wire it to the back of the restaurant. Next we fitted a computerised cooling fan inside the ducting to help pull smoke from the fire box into the smoking chamber, and added a chimney to release stale smoke. After some mucking around we finally finished building our new smokehouse: a cold smoker that is actually cold. It can smoke ingredients perfectly safely for as long as 40 hours and the temperature never rises above 5°C (41°F).

Our most recent addition, however, is a smoke roaster. Its chamber is gas-fired, which cooks at a temperature of about 120°C (248°F) — perfect for cooking beef brisket, shoulder and ribs. It’s not true American barbecue in the conventional sense but the smoke roaster yields a delicious, tender smoky flesh with plenty of ‘bark’ (the delicious caramelised outside of meat).

To Finish

  • 4 sprigs wild onion flowers, with 10 cm (4 inches) of stalk on
  • 4 dandelion flowers, petals picked
  • 4 dandelion leaves
  • 4 nasturtium leaves, with 10 cm (4 inches) of stalk on
  • 12 sprigs fresh wild fennel pollen tips

Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F/Gas 1). Gently reheat the rib portions in the oven and warm the plates.

Place a dessertspoon of the horseradish–apple on the left side of each plate. Place the pickled cucumber on the right side. Place the dill and bitter leaves over this.

Place a rib portion on the horseradish–apple, sprinkle some of the oak–wine salt on the meat and a little around the plates. Place the fennel pollen tips around the plate to finish.

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