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Cayenne pepper (Recipe: Bob's smoky beef ribs)

Beef ribs

Twenty-five years ago, the City of Boston planted a tree in a hole in the brick sidewalk in front of our house.

Every dog in the neighborhood loved, and I do mean loved, that little sapling.

To discourage the gifts those dogs left us (in the days before pooper-scooping was mandatory), we sprinkled cayenne pepper on the ground at the base of the tree. Every so often we'd hear a little sneeze... and we'd watch a very surprised puppy move along, to find a kinder and gentler tree hole.


Often, what's labelled "cayenne" in the grocery store (and most likely at the big-box store where I used to buy huge shaker-top containers to sprinkle on the tree hole) is a blend of several different types of peppers, one of which is the actual cayenne chile. Tabasco and cayenne peppers have approximately the same 30,000-50,000 Scoville Unit rating, so fresh ground cayenne provides the same zip as tabasco-based hot sauces. Use cayenne when you want the same heat intensity as hot pepper sauce, without the added vinegar.

Like most dried spices, ground cayenne loses some of its punch after long exposure to light or heat, so buy from a reliable source that has frequent turnover. The color should be vibrant; it will fade over time, an indicator of a spice that's spent too much time on the shelf.

As for me, I'm going to sprinkle some around my strawberry plants this summer, to keep the bunnies away.


Bob's smoky beef ribs

My friend Bob has been having a great time with his new smoker, as evidenced by these lip-smackingly-good ribs. The rub is adapted from Killer Ribs by Nancy Davidson. If you don't have a smoker, you can make these on a gas or charoal grill, or in the oven. Two racks will serves 6-8 people, and if you don't like beef ribs, go ahead and use baby back pork ribs instead. Remember to save the bones to flavor some split pea or lentil soup.


For the rub (combine all ingredients):
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (Bob used Splenda brown sugar substitute)
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1-1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp onion powder

7-8 lbs beef back ribs
2 cups of your favorite homemade or storebought barbecue sauce (Bob used this one)


Trim the visible membrane from the ribs, and generously apply the rub on both sides. Wrap each rack in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

Approximately 6-1/2 hours before serving, heat your smoker to 225°F.

Place the ribs in the smoker for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Then remove the plastic wrap and foil, replace ribs in the smoker, and add wood chips (hickory or mesquite). Cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

One hour before dinner, baste the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. Baste again after 30 minutes. Remove from smoker and let rest, covered with foil, for 15 minutes before serving.

To cook ribs on the grill: Set up your grill for indirect cooking, and heat to 275°F. Follow directions above, removing the plastic wrap and wrapping the ribs in foil, and reducing the total cook time to 5 hours.

To cook ribs in the oven: Preheat oven to 225°F. Unwrap the ribs, and place in a roasting pan, cover the pan with foil, and cook for 5 hours. Uncover the ribs, baste with barbecue sauce, and cook, uncovered, turning and basting occasionally, for another hour.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Cocoa-cumin-allspice rub
Tandoori-spiced grilled lamb
Spicy skirt steak
Grilled tofu with soba noodles
Southwestern spicy pulled pork

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MMMMMMMMMM this looks so mouth watering!! My hubby would go crazy for some of these! I have not gotten the art of ribs down yet but this looks like a good recipe to try my hand at them again!

Cayenne pepper against dogs is a great idea! and it's chemical free too

Those ribs look soooo tasty!

Good tip about the cayenne and the dogs. I'll need to sprinkle some in my front yard.

cayenne has worked as a deterrent for pups for me before too!!!!

is it bad that it is only 7:41am and now i want ribs?????

oping to get to finally use my Fishman tagine soon!!!a gas stove is on the horizon!!!!!!!!

We love barbecue!! This looks like a great recipe, and it would go perfectly with some corn bread and barbecued beans!

I just want to reach right in and gnaw on those ribs!
The bulk cayenne would be a great idea for under my deck - we are worried about possible skunk-de-peus! Thanks for the great idea.

Oh, I just love good cayenne. It kicks everything up a nice notch. What a great idea as a doggy repellent, too.

(By the way, maybe I never noticed before or maybe it's new, but the watermark on your photos is very nice and subtle. Kudos!)

Haven't made ribs in nearly two years (something I couldn't stomach while pregnant), but this may be just the recipe to get me back into the game. They look so tender and delicious!

Love the way you lead into your posts with little vignettes...though I'd keep the bunny reference away from the children, especially just before Easter! Great looking ribs.

These look and sound absolutely amazing. I'm not a big rib fan, but I just might have to try this recipe.

I might have to try these out. I have never attempted ribs, but I am sure my boyfriend would appreciate it. I am going to buy some cayenne today to get ready for making bloody marys this weekend, so I will have some on hand anyway!

It's getting to be about the time of year here in VT when we can get outside and use the smoker without frostbite. I can't wait to try out this recipe!

I may try using bison ribs, though, as I read a recent article about them in Eating Well and it seems like a fine experiment.

Aha -- I'd forgotten this entirely but it will prove useful for keeping the bunnies away from their hosta salad bar in my back gardens. Thanks, Lydia!

Mmmmmm.... I am always looking for a rib recipe to make me happy. I am thinking this will fit the bill!

I wonder if cayenne would have the same effect on ants? I have trouble with them eating herb seeds (when I plant seeds directly instead of seedlings).

I love cayenne. This year I'm hoping to grow & harvest my own. I can't wait. It's so healthy and delicious adding the perfect heat to anything. I sprinkle it on & in just about everything (it's even good in ginger cookies).

I also use cayenne on my bird seed to keep the squirrels out, and on my tulip bulbs to keep the chipmunks from eathing them.

Another great recipe!!!! Look forward to making this one.

I always thought that cayenne would be bad for dogs, we have a problem pooch here and I had thought about it but did not want to hurt the dog, but if all it does is make them sneeze and move on without leaving gifts than I will try it. The ribs look soooo delicious! Will have to try that. You have a great blog, I will come back.

So glad you mentioned using cayenne pepper around the strawberries to keep the bunnies away. I was going to ask if you thought it would work around plants in the garden, particularly as a rabbit deterrent!

The ribs look absolutely delicious, but am I reading the instructions right, that you cook the ribs inside plastic wrap? Is that safe?

Maybe I can get the hubby to break out our smoker for these next week.

I've also heard that cayenne keeps ants away too. Just "draw a line" with the pepper and they aren't supposed to cross it.

Wow, the ribs look fantastic. And somehow, the mental image of those little bunnies sneezing in the strawberry patch makes me smile!

The ribs look scrumptious. Tasting them in thefar recesses of my brain. I use cayenne pepper on my early bulbs (not up yet) to discourage bunnies.

The ribs look great! I'm trying hard to remember the last time I had ribs but not coming up with anything, so I'd say it's been a while. I'm guessing cayenne will definitely deter the bunnies too.

Ribs, beef or pork, are my favorite. This recipe sounds delicious. I love the cooking options too.

I do like a sprinkling of cayenne pepper on some meat dishes. this beef rib looks delish! Love your dog story!

Great recipe and, as usual a story to go with it, a delight to come back to your blog, Lynda!

I'm imagining all the sneezing Bostonian puppies, heehee...as always, great info--I never know the difference between cayenne and red pepper! Thanks!

The ribs look so tasty and I can't wait to use this rub!!! My husband is going to love it!

Isn't it amazing at how little you need to add to get good heat. I finished up a jar late last year that had been in the cupboard for more than three years, still hot though. Now I'm using a new jar called death rain that was a present...wonder how the wildlife would go with that.

I love ribs! I recommend Scruggs!

I mean...Scruggs BBQ Sauce to serve up with this fine rub!

Thanks, everyone, for your great comments this week. The cookbook giveaway is now closed. Winners will be contacted and announced tomorrow. Stay tuned for more giveaways in April!

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