In a large pot, combine the water, vinegar, brown sugar, cumin, cardamom and cayenne. Add the onion, 2 tablespoons of freshly ground pepper and 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the short ribs and simmer over moderately low heat until the meat is just tender, about 2 hours. Let the ribs cool in the broth, then transfer them to a large platter. Discard the broth. Cover the ribs and refrigerate until the meat is firm, at least 3 hours.
Soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes and drain. Light a grill and lightly oil the grate. If using charcoal, push the hot coals to the sides of the grill and put a large drip pan in the center. Scatter the wood chips over the hot coals and heat until smoking. If using gas, place a large drip pan over the flames and turn the heat to moderate. Put the wood chips in a smoker box or wrap them in a 12-inch square of foil, fold it into a 6-inch packet and poke 12 holes in the top. Heat the chips until smoking.
Lightly brush the short ribs with oil and lay them on the grill directly over the drip pan. Close the lid and grill the ribs over moderate heat for 35 minutes, turning occasionally, until sizzling and beginning to brown. Reduce the heat to low. Generously brush the ribs with the Zinfandel-Chile Jam and grill for 20 minutes, uncovered, until the meat is tender and glazed; be sure that the jam does not burn. Serve with the remaining jam.
The Smoky Short Ribs can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
This dish would showcase a round, deep-flavored, spicy red wine. Two good choices are Zinfandel from Sonoma County and Shiraz from Australia.
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