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When I was younger I was pathetically weedy about the weight of cast iron cookware, but now I find it hard to cook with anything else: the flavour this traditional cookware imparts is incomparable. And this book justifiably celebrates it! I've chosen the recipe for Asian-style Braised Short Ribs, as I feel that beef short ribs are one of the delights of the American kitchen, though unfortunately they are not easy to find in the UK. Butchers will supply them - and they are quaintly known as Jacob's Ladder - but as yet they don't seem to be in supermarkets. I feel on a mission to change this, and once you've tried them, you'll see why.


Asian-Style Braised Short Ribs

From Cooking In Cast Iron by Valerie Aikman-Smith, published by Weldon Owen, 2010.


3½ lb (1.75 kg) beef short ribs
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) hoisin sauce
¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) soy sauce
¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) dry sherry
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 star anise pods
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red jalapeño chile, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a nonreactive dish. In a bowl, whisk together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sherry, honey, sesame oil, ginger, five-spice powder, mustard, star anise, garlic, and chile. Pour over the ribs and turn to coat well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least4 hours or up to overnight.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Place the ribs in a 51⁄2- to 7-qt (5.5- to 7-l) braiser and pour the marinade over the top. Cover the pot and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and continue to cook for 30 minutes. Turn over the ribs and cook until the meat is very tender, the sauce has thickened, and the ribs are coated with a sticky brown glaze, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the ribs with the green onions and cilantro and serve right away.

The sweet-and-spicy ribs are slowly braised in a dark, rich sauce of honey, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, jalapeño, and fresh ginger. The tight-fitting lid and self-basting properties of the dutch oven allow the ribs to become succulent. You could also use a braiser.