Adam Liaw's slow-roasted ribs with malt vinegar pickles


2010 MasterChef winner and TV presenter

View more articles from Adam Liaw

Email Adam

Chef Adam Liaw.

Chef Adam Liaw. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Long, slow roasting and baking is a fantastic way to cook. Meats become tender, vegetables and fruits become jammy, and flavours combine, adapt and mellow to produce complex combinations.

That's not to mention the fact that it's incredibly easy, too. Just throw everything together and let your pot or oven do the work.

All you need to lift a finger for is flipping a tong or whirling a spoon every now and then to make sure everything's in order.

Toffee apple crumble with pickled pears.

Toffee apple crumble with pickled pears. Photo: William Meppem

If there's one thing that slow cooking misses, it's freshness and tartness. You can add it at the end like gremolata on osso bucco, or a punch of fresh herbs on top of a stew, but there's nothing like a quick pickle to wake the palate.


Pickling doesn't need to take weeks and months. In fact, some of the tastiest and most refreshing pickles can be made in just minutes. Give them a whirl to take your favourite slow-cooked dishes to the next level.

Slow-roasted ribs with malt vinegar pickles

Beef Short Ribs with malt vinegar picles.

Beef Short Ribs with malt vinegar picles. Photo: William Meppem

Serves 6-8

The secret to great ribs is that you need a contrast between the meaty rib and the sticky sauce. Add a sharp pickle to that and you're in heaven.

• 3kg beef short ribs

• ¼ cup finely chopped curly parsley, to serve

Dry rub

• 2 tbsp brown sugar

• 1 tbsp sea salt

• 1 tbsp black pepper

• 1 tbsp smoked paprika

• 1 tbsp garlic powder

• 2 tsp cumin powder

• 1 tbsp mustard powder

Caramelised onion barbecue sauce

• 1 tbsp olive oil

• 2 large brown onions, peeled and grated

• 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

• 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

• 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

• 2 tbsp malt vinegar

• ¼ cup brown sugar

• 2 tbsp dijon mustard

Malt vinegar pickles

• 1 lebanese cucumber, finely diced

• 1 red onion, peeled and finely diced

• 1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced

• 1 stalk celery, finely diced

• 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely diced

• 2 tbsp malt vinegar

• 1/2 tsp salt

• 1 tsp caster sugar

Heat your oven to 140ºC. Combine the ingredients for the dry rub and rub all over the ribs. Place into a large oven tray, cover with aluminium foil and bake for 3 hours until the ribs are tender.

While the ribs are cooking, make the barbecue sauce. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over low-medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are caramelised, browned and very soft. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Remove from the heat.

To make the pickles, combine all the ingredients in a press-seal bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Increase the heat of the oven to 175ºC. Brush the ribs with about half of the barbecue sauce and return uncovered to the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until caramelised. Serve the ribs with the remaining barbecue sauce and scatter with the pickles and parsley.

Toffee apple crumble with pickled pears and sour cream

Use red-skinned apples - they cook down into a soft, jammy filling and make a great contrast to the tart pickled pears.

Serves 6

• ¾ cup caster sugar

• 25g unsalted butter

• 8 royal gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2cm cubes

• 300ml sour cream, to serve

Lemon-pickled pears

• 2 bosc pears, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes

• 1 tbsp lemon juice

• pinch of salt

• 1 tsp freshly grated ginger


• 1 cup wholemeal plain flour

• 1 cup rolled oats

• 1 tsp ground nutmeg

• 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

• 1/2 tsp salt

• 225g unsalted butter, melted

Place the sugar in a large saucepan with ¼ cup of water and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the sugar forms a golden caramel. Add the butter and apples and stir until combined. Continue to cook for about 8 minutes until the apples are soft. Transfer the apples to a buttered 26cm round baking dish, spread into an even layer and let cool.

To make the pickled pears, add the pears, lemon juice and salt into a press-seal bag. Squeeze the ginger between your fingers to add the ginger juice to the bag, discarding the ginger solids. Squeeze as much air as you can out of the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat your oven to 190ºC. Combine the crumble ingredients in a large bowl and mix to a crumb. Cover the apples with the crumble and bake for 30 minutes until the topping is golden and the filling is jammy. Top the crumble with the pickled pears and serve with dollops of sour cream.