Basturma Spiced Beef Short Ribs Recipe | PBS Food

Basturma Spiced Beef Short Ribs

The Basturma rub on these spiced beef short ribs is authentically, completely Armenian, where pitmaster Arthur Grigoryan adds fenugreek, aleppo pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper — among others. The dish and Grigoryan’s restaurant Ill Mas BBQ is featured in the Los Angeles episode of No Passport Required.


Cook time: 9-10 Hours

Yield: 4 Servings



  • Principal ingredients and tools:
  • 1, 3- to 5-pound rack of beef short ribs (from the plate, not the chuck)
  • BBQ smoker (offset, barrel)
  • Dry seasoned oak logs
  • Bag of ice cubes (equal to the amount of water in brine)
  • Basturma rub
  • For the brine:
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 350 grams Kosher salt
  • 225 grams sugar
  • 90 grams brown sugar
  • 60 grams honey
  • 42 grams pink curing salt #1
  • 130 grams basturma rub
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Basturma spice rub (yield: two lbs)
  • 200 grams ground fenugreek
  • 200 grams smoked paprika
  • 200 grams aleppo pepper
  • 200 grams ground black pepper
  • 100 grams ground cumin
  • 100 grams ground allspice
  • 50 grams cayenne pepper


  1. Trim your rack of beef ribs so that there is no leftover fat or silver skin. Turn the rack of ribs over and peel off the membrane that is attached to the bone side; this step ensures that your ribs will come out tender. Failure to remove the membrane will result in a tough leathery skin! Cover your ribs and set aside in the fridge for later.
  2. In a large bowl combine and mix together with a whisk the ground fenugreek, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, black pepper, cumin, allspice, and cayenne pepper. Store in an airtight container. This rub has a shelf life of 3 months.
  3. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and add the salt, sugar, brown sugar, honey, Basturma rub, and garlic cloves. Once all these ingredients have dissolved in the water turn off the heat and stir in the pink salt.
  4. Transfer the brine carefully into your brining bucket and add the ice cubes to help expedite the chilling process of the brine. Place the brine in your refrigerator until it has fully chilled.
  5. Once the brine has chilled, give it a quick stir to redistribute the spices in the liquid and slowly add your rack of ribs to the brine to avoid splashing.
  6. Place a dinner plate over the ribs to keep them fully submerged in the bucket of brine and cover with a lid or plastic wrap and place it in the fridge where it will brine and cure for a total of three days.
  7. After the three days of brining are up, remove the rack of ribs from the brine and wash off any excess brine. Pat your ribs dry with a paper towel and set aside.
  8. Generously sprinkle some more Basturma rub on your now cured and brined rack of beef ribs and let the rub penetrate its flavors through the meat for at least an hour.
  9. Start a fire in your smoker and heat your smoker until it has reached a temperature of 250°F.
  10. Place the water pan in the corner of your smoker as it is pre-heating. The water pan helps retain moisture levels in your smoker as the meat is cooking, thus preventing your meat from drying out.
  11. Once the smoker is heated, place your ribs on the side of your smoker that is furthest from the fire. You want these ribs to cook as low and slow as possible with indirect heat to prevent burning or toughening of the meat on your ribs.
  12. Maintain the temperature of your smoker in the 225-250°F range by adding a log or two every hour and try not to open the lid to take a peak for the first three hours. These first hours of cooking are crucial to ensure you get a nice bark and color on your ribs.
  13. After the first three hours of cooking, open the lid of your smoker and spray your ribs with water every hour to maintain humidity levels and prevent your meat from drying.
  14. After your ribs have been cooking for a total of six hours they should be a nice red amber color. Remove the ribs from the smoker and tightly cover your ribs with foil making sure there are no holes or pockets. The foil will now help retain more moisture from the meat and help the meat breakdown its tissues, resulting in extremely tender and juicy ribs.
  15. Place the covered ribs back into the smoker and continue cooking for another three and a half hours, or until a probe inserted into the meat has the resistance of soft butter.
  16. Once the ribs have finished cooking, remove them from the smoker still covered in foil and wrap them tightly with plastic food wrap and let it rest for at least an hour before serving.
  17. After your ribs have rested, remove them from all its covering and either carve thin slices from the top and serve them on a plate, or simply just pick them up by the bone and enjoy!


Prep Time: 4 days
Presented by:
Produced by: