Oven Busters

in the pink

December 7th, 2010

Oven Busters are actually short ribs of beef, the bones and meat above a regular rib of beef roast – also known as a Boxheater and in America they are called a Jacob’s ladder. The name Oven Buster comes from the fact that these short ribs are normally cooked for a long time at a very low heat and during the cooking they swell up, looking bigger when you take them out of the oven, than when you put them in. These are a cheap and delicious, old fashioned, cut of beef. You may have trouble finding them outside of a traditional butcher’s shop. They can come as a full ladder of ribs or individually. They taste a bit like the meat on an ox tail.

Oven Buster recipe:

Several oven busters or a “ladder” (rack of short ribs)
2 carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
4 pieces of streaky bacon (chopped)
a bouquet garni
a small squeeze of anchovy paste
sea salt and cracked black pepper
half a dessertspoon of plain flour
2 glasses of red wine
a splash of red wine vinegar
some goose or duck fat for frying

browning version

Chop and fry your vegetables in a cast iron casserole with the bacon, until they have taken some colour. In the meantime, brown your Oven Busters in a large cast iron frying pan. When browned, remove the Oven Busters to the casserole along with half a dessertspoonful of flour. Deglaze the frying pan with a glass of red wine and a splash of red wine vinegar. Add the deglaze to the casserole, along with the second glass of wine, a squirt of anchovy paste and the bouquet garni. Season with some black pepper, but hold back on the salt until it has cooked for a while, since the anchovy paste is quite salty.


Bring the casserole to a simmering temperature, put the lid on and place it in a preheated oven at 120º C for a couple of hours.  After 2 – 3 hours, remove from the oven and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with mashed potato and seasonal vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts. On cold days like today, add a little crushed chilli when frying the onions to add some extra heat to the dish.

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4 Responses to Oven Busters

  1. Fantastic! My grandmother perfected the art of cooking oven busters in London during food rationing in the second world war. She used to turn out a delicious, affordable Sunday roast ever after.

    When she moved to the the Sussex coast, she made sure to live near a local butcher who knew what oven buster was 🙂

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