In the summer, I love to have friends over for barbecue. What makes this recipe for short-rib sliders so great for entertaining is that it's a way to serve a meal with all the flavors of barbecue but without having to stand for a long time over a hot grill.
The key is to cook the spice-rubbed ribs low and slow. I use a 250-degree oven and bake the meat for six to seven hours, until it's melt-in- your-mouth tender. There's no basting or turning, and you don't even have to open the oven while it cooks. Best of all, the meat can be prepared a day or two in advance, so all you have to do is assemble these mini hamburger-style sandwiches when you're ready to eat.
My barbecue sauce combines some wonderful flavors: bacon, which adds that grill-like element of smokiness, strong coffee and whiskey for a tangy, adult taste. Or you can use your favorite brand of BBQ sauce.
For a large gathering, I like to serve this buffet style, setting out all the accompaniments and letting friends make their own sliders. The meat has a little kick from the spices, but the addition of my crimson-color coleslaw and bread — either a roll or mini bun — creates the perfect marriage of heat and coolness, sweet and sour, soft and crisp. This is a lick-your-fingers experience that becomes even better with an ice-cold glass of rosé or beer.
What to Drink
"I prefer malty beers with barbecue," says Jon Langley, beer sommelier at . "They match the sweetness of the sauce and the richness of the meat." Pretty Things's Lovely Saint Winefride ($9) is a brown lager with caramel accents. "It's intensely malty without being overly roasted or bitter," says Langley. Two good German options are Uerige Sticke ($5), a palate-cleansing ale, and Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen ($5), a smoky amber lager. Finall, Traquair House Ale ($6), a classic Scottish beer, has notes of molasses with a little earth, cocoa, and a whiff of smoke. "It's an all-time favorite of mine," he adds.