Home Butchers Blog

Northern Irish Meats, Recipes, Cooking Guides and Stories from Home Butchers - NI's Online Butchers

  • Get BBQ Ribs Right

    Ribs. If you like your meat, chances are you'll be a sucker for these.

    When cooked properly, ribs are a beautiful thing. The meat should be soft and melting, but still full of flavour from being cooked on the bone. The sauce should be sticky, with a good balance of sweet and heat, and a smoky undertone. Proper finger food, you face should be covered in a grin after you've eaten these - and probably a fair bit of BBQ sauce.

    But if you get them wrong, ribs will be pretty  tough and stringy - pretty much inedible to be honest. We have picked the brains of our expert butchers, to find out their tried and tested method for achieving perfect BBQ ribs. If you want to know how to cook ribs well, read on.

    The Ribs

    First things first. The perfect pork ribs recipe starts with the ribs (obviously). There are two types of pork ribs you can choose between.  Baby back ribs are cut from the top of the rib cage, and so are shorter, fatter in shape and a bit meatier. Side ribs (also known as spare ribs) come from the lower belly side of the pig; these ribs are generally longer, thinner, and contain a bit more fat.

    Which would our butcher choose? Side ribs every time. Have you heard of the saying 'fat means flavour'? Well its true, and it also means that side ribs end up much more tender than baby back ribs, which is why we only stock side ribs. Half a rack (4-6 ribs per person) should be plenty for a main meal, unless your greedy (which I would be if were taking about these BBQ ribs)!

    home butchers spare ribs Home Butchers quality Northern Irish pork ribs


    Now you've got your ribs, the first thing you need to do is check that the membrane has been removed from the back, and if it hasn't, remove it. This is quite easy to do, watch a useful video here.

    Then you can prepare your ribs for a long slow braising. Preheat your oven to around Gas Mark 3/160°C. Make a quick spice rub for your ribs - I like to use equal parts brown sugar, salt, smoked paprika and garlic powder (1 tbsp of each per full rack of ribs), then season to taste with pepper and chilli powder.  Place the seasoned ribs into a deep roasting tin, and cover with braising liquid. I use half beer/sweet apple cider and half water. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 2-2.5 hours, until the ribs are tender, and the meat has shrunk away from the ends of the bones.

    The Sauce

    The BBQ sauce you choose for your pork ribs recipe is a very personal thing. You can of course buy some ready made from the supermarket. These can be perfectly tasty,  but you have gone to so much effort learning how to cook ribs - why take a short cut now!?

    You can make the BBQ sauce while the ribs are cooking away, or you can make it in advance and store it in the fridge for a few days - or in the freezer for months. I love Jamie Oliver's BBQ sauce recipe, which includes all kinds exciting things like ginger and fennel, but for a more traditional BBQ sauce, head to BBC Food. Coat the ribs in the sauce and leave for 1-24 hours, to let the flavours sink in.

    sauce for bbq ribs


    Fire up that BBQ, lets get grilling. For that slightly caramelised, slightly smoky taste, the BBQ is the only way to go - this is a BBQ ribs recipe after all! The ribs will need to be cooked for around 20 minutes, with regular turning, and basting with that delicious BBQ sauce you made, until they are piping hot, crispy and wonderfully sticky.

    And there you have it. BBQ Ribs!

    ribs recipe

    Image Credits
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dplanet/339581468" title="BBQ Sauce by Dplanet::, on Flickr"><img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/144/339581468_7ec052b9ac.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="BBQ Sauce"></a>
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/familyclan/15140832740" title="barbecue ribs, pork by David McSpadden, on Flickr"><img src="https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5572/15140832740_dc904491b6.jpg" width="500" height="230" alt="barbecue ribs, pork"></a>
  • Perfect Picnic Food Ideas

    Now that the weather has finally warmed up, al-fresco dining is firmly back on the agenda. And if you don't have a BBQ, can't be bothered firing it up or just fancy a change, a picnic is the way to go. Grab a big blanket, some cold ciders and plastic plates, and your almost there. Now all you need is some sunshine, and tasty food to eat!

    We can't control the weather, but we can provide you with some perfect picnic food ideas, and the high quality meat products to make them with. The first of our picnic recipes is an unusual but very tasty beef sausage recipe.

    Sriracha Glazed Beef Sausages with Peppers

    Sriracha is a flavourful chilli sauce originating from Thailand. As well as its use as a condiment, it works brilliantly in a sweet, sour and hot glaze for this meaty beef sausage recipe. Couscous is the perfect accompaniment to this picnic recipe as it travels well, and it's deep Moroccan flavours marry perfectly with the sausage and peppers. and tastes divine. Alternatively serve the sausage and peppers stuffed into a crusty roll or soft flat bread with minty yoghurt. Serves 4.

    picnic recipe beef sausages

    Ingredients for Spicy Beef Sausages with Couscous

    For the Sriracha Glaze

    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1/2 red chilli
    • 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
    • 3 tbsp sriracha chilli sauce
    • 3tbsp honey
    • 1tsp ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
    • smoked salt
    • black pepper

    For the Couscous

    • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
    • juice and zest of a lemon
    • 1 pint of very hot chicken stock
    • 150g couscous
    • 2tsp cumin
    • 2tsp smoked paprika
    • large bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine
    • handful of fresh coriander, chopped fine
    • 2 handfuls fresh rocket
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • drizzle of good quality oil


    How to Make this Picnic Recipe

    Preheat your oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4.

    Combine all the ingredients for the sausage glaze. In a roasting tray, smother the sausages in half of the glaze, ensuring they are evenly coated. Bake in the oven for 15 mins.

    While the sausages are in the oven, combine the sliced onions with the lemon juice and zest in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with salt and allow to macerate for 5 minutes.

    Wash the sweet pointed peppers and dry thoroughly, then blacken the skin with a naked flame. This can be done with a blowtorch if you have one. I don't and manage it quite easily using the naked flame on one of my hob rings, but you can also use a very hot grill. Remember your not trying to cook the pepper completely, just add colour and a nice smoky taste. Either way, be careful!

    Allow the peppers to cool and split longways. scraping out any seeds.

    Add the couscous to the bowl with the dried spices. Add just enough hot stock to cover the couscous entirely. Now cover the bowl to trap steam and leave for 10 minutes.

    Take the sausages out of the oven and toss in the remaining glaze, before baking for a further 10 minutes,

    Remove the cover from your bowl and fluff up the couscous with a fork. Add the herbs, rocket and a good glug of oil, then season to taste.

    As soon as the sausages are cooked, your done. Allow the food to cool to room temperature before packing securely, ready to take on your picnic! Serve each plate with half a pepper and blob of minty yoghurt and you will have four happy picnickers!

    beef sausage recipe picnic recipes
































  • Grillin' up a Storm - BBQ Recipes


    It's a time-honoured tradition in most parts of the UK to dive for the BBQ as soon as we spy a gap in the rain clouds. If you're planning to get a few friends and family over for a BBQ at some point this weekend, you've chosen a good one for it. Not because of the weather of course, but because it is the end of National BBQ Week!

    Which has got us thinking. We know you like your meat, but sometimes a good accompaniment can be just as important, enhancing the flavours of meat and marinade to new heights of deliciousness.

    This is our third recipe for BBQ side dishes, and we have put a new spin on an old classic...


    Crunchy Coleslaw

    This is a staple on any BBQ menu; as BBQ recipes go, its a bit of a classic! We have kept to traditional coleslaw roots, but have added some apple for sweetness, and red cabbage for colour. Have a go at this recipe and I think you will soon come to agree that this coleslaw is a bit of a show stopper. Serves 6.

    Goes Well With: Anything you've smothered in BBQ sauce like sticky ribs and pulled pork. Also delicious with steaks and brisket.

    coleslaw recipe coleslaw close up!

    Coleslaw Ingredients

    • 6 spring onions, chopped
    • 2 carrots, grated
    • 1/4 of a white cabbage, grated
    • 1/4 of a red cabbage, sliced very thinly
    • 1 large sweet eating apple (such as a brae-burn), sliced into matchsticks
    • 2 limes
    • 2-4 tbsp mayonnaise
    • 2-4 tbsp fat free yoghurt
    • Salt and plenty of black pepper

    How to make Coleslaw

    Begin by preparing all the vegetables so they are ready to go. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage and the lime juice and zest, and scrunch together lightly with your hands. This process will soften the larger chunks of cabbage slightly, so they incorporate better with the rest of the coleslaw. Leave to stand for five minutes.

    Add the rest of the vegetables and the apple to the bowl, add in 2 tbsp of mayonnaise and 2 tbsp of yoghurt and mix gently to combine. If you feel that you prefer a creamier coleslaw, add the remaining mayonnaise and yoghurt.

    Season well, I especially like plenty of black pepper in this dish! Taste to check for the seasoning and adjust accordingly.


    Image Credits
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/rfduck/3420094024" title="Coleslaw by Russ, on Flickr"><img src="https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3334/3420094024_f944cc0435_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="Coleslaw"></a>
  • Brilliant BBQ Recipes to Eat with Meat

    This is the second of our BBQ recipes created to celebrate National BBQ Week.

    There is no doubting that good quality meat can taste sensation if cooked well on a barbecue (please note my use of the word 'well'. I'm sure there will be more than a few sausages this Summer that will end up completely black on the outside and menacingly pink on the inside. These will not taste good).

    But every good BBQ menu should also contain a selection of side dishes that compliment the meats and marinades you have chosen.

    Man cannot live on meat alone, regrettable though that is.


    Roasted Radish and Chickpea Salad

    This unusual warm salad is a combination of roasted radishes and chickpeas, it's anything but bland! This salad packs quite a punch which means it goes well with meat and fish that that have been dressed quite simply. Serves 6

    Goes Well With: Meat cooked in a light marinade such as herb and citrus. Also goes well with beef or lamb kebabs.

    radish salad


    For the Salad

    • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
    • 80g green olives, cut in half
    • 250g radishes, ends removed and sliced in half
    • 3 beef tomatoes, thinly sliced
    • 1 tin of chickpeas
    • 400g mixed leaves or spinach
    • 1 lemon
    • 2tsp smoked paprika
    • 1tsp cumin
    • 2tsp hot chilli sauce such as sirrachha
    • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar

    For the Salad Dressing

    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 1 lemon
    • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 3 tbsp tahini

    For the Croutons

    • 100g stale bread, cut into chunks
    • 2tbsp olive oil

    How to make the salad

    Preheat your oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6. Dress the radishes simply in a glug of oil, and a squeeze of lemon before roasting for 25-30 mins

    While the radishes are roasting, macerate the red onion slices in the juice from the rest of the lemon and some salt. This will remove some of the harshness from the onion and make it more palatable.

    Now make the dressing by crushing the garlic in a pestle and mortar, before adding the juice and zest of a lemon, then the balsamic, then finally the tahini and seasoning. Sometimes, stirring the tahini can make it go thick, but this is easy enough to combat by adding a tablespoon of water.

    Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the chunks of bread over a medium heat until toasted and crisp, then set aside.

    Five minutes before the radishes are due to come out of the oven, heat the same frying pan to cook the chickpeas.  A few will burst open during cooking, which adds a nice texture to the salad, Add the cumin and smoked paprika and cook for 4-5 mins, stirring regularly. Switch the heat off then add the chilli sauce (don't add it before as your kitchen will fill with chilli fumes that will make you choke!)

    You are now ready to make up your salad. On a big board/tray, scatter your mixed leaves as a base. Combine the rest of the salad ingredients (olives, tomatoes, macerated onions, roasted radishes and fried chickpeas) in a big bowl, and dress with balsamic vinegar.

    Scatter the warm ingredients over the salad leaves, then dress with the tahini sauce and croutons.

    tahini dressing pestle and mortar Tahini dressing for the roasted radish and chickpea salad
  • BBQ Recipes - What to Eat with Meat?

    You won't guess it by the weather, but I can have it on good authority that this week it is National BBQ Week. If, like me, you love a good bit of al-fresco dining, and will jump at the smallest excuse to dust off the grill tray and get outdoors to eat smoky food in drizzling rain, you will be suitably pleased to hear that we have put together a selection of delicious BBQ recipes.

    If, like other sensible people, you prefer to conduct the serious business of barbecuing food when the weather is warm and sunny, your time will come (possibly). And our delicious BBQ recipes will still be waiting.

    Each BBQ side dish has been specifically chosen to go perfectly with a type of meat or marinade, to help you put together the perfect BBQ menu.The first of three extra special BBQ side dishes is our sweetcorn salsa, but keep an eye out for other sensational BBQ recipes which will be coming over the weekend, including our recipe for classic coleslaw and an exciting roasted radish and chickpea salad.

    Sweetcorn Salsa


    This light and tasty sweetcorn salsa is really fresh and cooling, which makes it the perfect accompaniment to spicy meats hot of the BBQ.  Serves 6, but can easily be doubled, or even tripled if you have a big crowd coming.

    Goes Well With: Any meat cooked in a spicy marinade such as Jamaican jerk, or Mexican chipotle chilli sauce.

    sweetcorn salsa for a bbq

    Ingredients for Sweetcorn Salsa

    • 4 corn on the cob
    • 1 ripe avocado
    • 6 spring onions
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1 red chilli
    • 2 limes
    • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
    • Olive oil
    • Salt and Pepper


    How to Make Sweetcorn Salsa

    Cook the whole cobs of corn for 8 minutes in boiling salted water, before draining and allowing to cool.

    In a pestle and mortar, make the dressing by crushing the garlic into a smooth paste, before adding the zest and juice of the limes, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

    Prepare the vegetables for the salad by slicing the spring onions, finely chopping the chilli (adjust quantity to taste) and removing the kernels of corn from the cob with a sharp knife ( watch how to remove corn from the cob here). Save the avocado till last so it doesn't go brown; simply cut it into smallish chunks.

    Now combine the vegetables with the dressing, add the chopped coriander and season with the more salt and pepper if necessary. I like this salsa really fresh and zingy, but if you find the lime is too dominating, add a bit more olive oil to the salad at this stage.

    sweetcorn salsa bbq








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