Magellan and I feel a tradition coming on.
Last year we wrote about the best new recipe we’d tried in 2015. Why not do the same for 2016?
I’d never heard of the restaurant Dabbous in London until I opened last year’s Christmas present from Lynn—gorgeous and artful— Dabbous The Cookbook.
A large-format cookbook, it has a thick cover imprinted with art resembling a black-and-white Jackson Pollock. The recipes are sectioned by season by four die-cut French-folds of paper in an ethereal grey. Baby Artichokes, Pickled Walnuts & Acacia Honey. Ripe Tomato in its own Juice. Roast Scallops, Toasted Jerusalem Artichokes, Virgin Rapeseed Oil Mayonnaise (Delicious). Blood Orange, Olive Oil & Marjoram (Easy and Light). The photography is spare and serene, the food simply presented on simple plates, evoking a natural feeling of lightness that reflects the cooking of Ollie Dabbous (pronounced Da-boo). Impressive, pretty, creative, healthy, and refined. Dabbous The Cookbook won the 2015 British Book Design and Production Award and the 2015 Gourmand World Cookbook Award, Best Chef Cookbook.
Ollie Dabbous opened his eponymous restaurant in London to rave reviews. The renowned Sunday Times food writer A.A. Gill skewered most of the restaurants he reviewed. But not Dabbous
Occupying an urban space in London’s Fitzrovia, Dabbous has stunned critics and diners since it opened in 2012. Behind the sheet metal door, acclaimed chef Ollie Dabbous creates light, modern European (small) dishes that are both sophisticated and delicate, in stark contrast with the restaurant’s industrial decor. The food is kept so close to the soil, the hedgerow, the pool and the tide, but is still as romantic as a fairy ring…. Each of us were properly, lovingly, unforgettably gobsmacked.
Right away I knew the recipe that I wanted to try first. Barbecued Beef Short Rib, Mustard & Molasses had me salivating and rushing off to Market Meats.
Several of our friends (sorry!) can attest to the stringy, chewy short ribs with green, pink, black and white peppercorns that I served one night. Magellan has eaten far too many oven-baked short ribs that, while tasty enough, fell off the bone into a sauce that never reduced and refused to thicken even with the addition of flour, cornstarch or arrowroot.
As soon as I saw Ollie’s method for cooking short ribs I was hooked.
1. Trim away any excess fat from the beef ribs and season well all over with fine salt. 2. (He offers a sous vide method but knows most of us don’t cook that way) so he writes, ‘Alternatively, wrap in foil and cook overnight in the oven at 140 C/Gas Mark.’
Before you go to bed, two more things. Make the dill pickles and set the yogurt in a sieve lined with cheesecloth in a bowl in the refrigerator to drain. Then all you have to do the next day is stir the ingredients for the mustard and molasses sauce and grill the short ribs for a few minutes to heat and brown them. (BTW: consider cooking a whole lot of short ribs overnight, then strip the meat from the ribs you don’t use for dinner and use it for a ragu or shepherd’s pie.)
Ollie’s recipes are designed to be part of a seven-course tasting menu. However, I’ve found (yeah!) that his recipes are perfect for two people.
But let’s have a party. At my ideal dinner party, six guests are seated at table so I’ve reworked this recipe accordingly. Although Ollie’s recipes are presented in metric units, I’ve changed them to imperial measurements.
Serve each guest a short rib, two dill pickles and a large dollop of the mustard and molasses sauce along with a colourful veg, like a squash puree or roasted beets. Or go for the comfort of mashed potatoes. As you can see from our photo, although it’s not artistic, I opted for the crunchy goodness of rösti. Follow this with a refreshing green salad and, if you’re tempted, buy the cookbook and make that Blood Orange, Olive Oil & Marjoram dessert.
Make this recipe and travel vicariously to London and with Brexit favouring our dollar, maybe we should consider the real thing.
- 6 short ribs, long ones taken from the chuck
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 1¼ cups sugar
- ⅓ cup + 1 Tbsp salt
- 1½ bunches of dill
- 3 Tbsp dark mustard seeds
- 3 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 6 Japanese cucumbers, halved lengthwise
- 2 cups Greek full-fat yogurt
- 1½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 1½ tsp dry mustard
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar or muscovado sugar
- 1½ Tbsp molasses
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated horseradish (substitute jarred horseradish if you can't find fresh)
- Salt the ribs. Wrap in tin foil and put in the oven at 285°F overnight. Take them out in the morning and refrigerate.
- Boil the water, vinegar, sugar and salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt completely.
- Set aside some nice dill tips for a garnish. Bruise the rest of the dill with a mallet.
- Add the mustard seeds and bruised dill to the pickling liquid.
- Add the cucumbers, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Line a sieve with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Put the yogurt in the bowl and leave it to drain overnight in the fridge. (Toss out the liquid that's precipitated. The yogurt will now be thicker, which will result in a firmer sauce.)
- Mix the yogurt with the two kinds of mustards, the two colours of mustard seeds, salt, sugar, molasses, lemon juice and horseradish.
- Take out the dill pickles and let them reach room temperature.
- Season the ribs with salt and pepper and grill them on your bbq until they're hot and nicely browned.
- Serve each person a short rib, two pickles sprinkled with the reserved sprigs of dill and a generous dollop of the sauce. Mashed potatoes are a good side; so is a squash puree, especially if you can get a sweet kobucha squash. Rösti is a delicious accompaniment, too.
Check out the restaurant and cookbook Dabbous here. Since the debut of Dabbous in January, 2012, Ollie has opened Barnyard and in 2017 he will add Henrietta to his culinary repertoire. UPDATE: Dabbous will close in June 2017.