Tia Raiford holding a platter of berbere spiced ribs
Image by Clay Williams

A blend of bloomed (or toasted) peppercorns, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and fenugreek along with cayenne, paprika, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon coat short ribs in a warming medley of spice flavors that we crave during the holiday season. You can use your choice of beef or pork ribs for this dish, and you cook them, pot-roast style, in a stockpot or dutch oven.

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Serves 8

    For the berbere spice blend:
  • 1 cup black peppercorns
  • 1 cup cumin seeds
  • ½ cup cardamom seeds
  • 40 whole cloves
  • ½ cup fenugreek seeds
  • ½ cup coriander
  • ½ cup pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 cup cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups smoked paprika
  • ½ cup turmeric powder
  • ½ cup ginger powder
  • ¼ cup ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup garlic powder
  • 1 cup onion powder
  • 1 cup fine-ground Sumatra coffee
  • For the short ribs:
  • 10 pounds beef or pork ribs
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups medium-diced onion
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrot
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery
  • 1 gallon beef stock

Make the berbere spice blend:

In a skillet over medium heat, toast peppercorns, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and fenugreek for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Finely grind toasted spices in a spice grinder in batches and then mix in remaining ingredients until combined.

Prepare the ribs:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season short ribs heavily with berbere spice; allow meat to marinate for up to 1 hour.
  2. In a dutch oven, add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until small wisps of smoke form. Add garlic, onion, and carrots and sauté until caramelized. Add celery and sauté until translucent. Remove vegetables from pan, and in the same pan, add remaining oil and return to medium-high heat. Begin searing the ribs, ensuring they get a nice brown crust on each side of the ribs.
  3. In a large stockpot, bring the beef stock to a low simmer. Once all the ribs have been seared, layer them with the vegetables in the pot and then add the stock and cover. Place in oven and cook for 3 hours until short ribs are fork tender.
  • Adapted From
    Bress 'N' Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer. Copyright by Matthew Raiford and Amy Paige Condon, 2021. Used with permission of the publisher, Countryman Press. All rights reserved.
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