Kavey’s Cackalacky Roast Rib of Beef

When I was invited to take part in the Grey Poupon cooking challenge, I immediately remembered the intriguing recipe for Cackalacky Spare Ribs that I’d read in my recently acquired book, The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers.

As Grey Poupon was originally an American-owned brand (born back in 1777) Cackalacky seemed doubly appropriate. (These days Grey Poupon UK is a separate entity, their mustard still produced in Dijon, the spiritual home of mustard).

With Google at my fingertips, I quickly learned that Cackalacky is a nickname for Carolina, USA and for many things originating in the two states, North and South, though the origins of the word are a mystery.

In food terms, Cackalacky is a condiment variously described as a “hot mustard sauce”, a “mustard BBQ sauce” or simply a “spice sauce”. Recipes vary hugely, but what they all have at their core is the use of yellow mustard. Many recipes also include sweet potato; for acidity there’s a choice of cider vinegar or lime juice; for sweetness some recipes turn to molasses, others to honey and still others to brown sugar; some add onions and garlic, some don’t; and then there’s a whole range of spices.

Although I took the book as my original inspiration, I had some way to go in developing my own recipe.

For a start, I wanted to switch from pork spare ribs to beautiful British beef. I decided on a bone in rib of Hereford beef, to be roasted whole. This was first rubbed with a sugar spice mix based on Summers’ rib rub, a few hours before cooking. I also took her advice to baste the beef with some of my Cackalacky sauce five minutes before the end of its cooking time.

However, when it came to the recipe for Cackalacky sauce, I struck out on my own, taking elements from several very varied recipes I found, and hoping my own creation would work. Instead of sweet potato, I decided to use apples, still seasonal in the UK. Of course, Grey Poupon mustard would have a starring role. And I decided on my own combination and amounts of sugar, honey, herbs, spices and vinegar.

I recently enjoyed a lovely potato and parsnip mash when eating out, and felt the soft, sweet and earthy flavours would be perfect against the spiced beef and sweet-sour mustard sauce. Again, very seasonal for a British winter.

Lastly, one of my favourite winter greens, some Savoy cabbage, just shredded and lightly boiled.

I’m not very experienced at developing my own recipes, it’s something I’m still very nervous about. So I was truly delighted when my Cackalacky and accompaniments came together beautifully. This is definitely a recipe I’ll make again.

Feel free to try this with other meats too – my swap from pork ribs to a roasting joint of beef worked really well.


Kavey’s Cackalacky Roast Rib of Beef

Bone in rib of beef
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar
1 cup Cackalacky sauce (see below)

Note: My rib of beef was a single rib join weighing 1.3 kilos. Adjust volumes of spice rub if your joint is significantly larger or smaller.

  • Combine sugar and spice ingredients thoroughly and rub into the surface of the meat. Use your hands!

  • Leave the meat in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

  • Roast the meat according to your preferred temperature and times and the size of the joint. Set your alarm for 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.I tried a new method, pre-heating the oven to 230 C, cooking the beef at that temperature for 15 minutes and then turning down to 190 C for the rest of the cooking time. However, the result was cooked more than we prefer, and next time we’ll stick to our normal temperatures and times, for medium rare.

  • Five minutes before the beef is due to finish cooking, take it out of the oven and baste generously on all surfaces with Cackalacky sauce. Return to the oven.

  • After the final five minutes, remove from the oven, cover with tin foil and leave to rest for 10-20 minutes.


Kavey’s Cackalacky BBQ Sauce

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 teaspoon cooking oil
6 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
4 heaped tablespoons Grey Poupon yellow mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Note: As I was combining elements from several different recipes to create my own, I wasn’t sure how much sauce to make. I initially made exactly half the above amount, realising as soon as I’d finished that I hadn’t made enough to both baste the beef and serve as a condiment. I immediately made the recipe again, exactly the same way. The amounts above are for the total volume I made.

  • Heat the cooking oil in a pan and add the diced apples. Cook until the apples start to take on a little colour.

  • Add the dark muscovado sugar and stir on a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and coats the apples.

  • Add the cider vinegar and water and bring to a simmer.

  • After a few minutes test the softness of the apples. I used a potato masher to break them down more quickly.

  • Add the oregano, thyme, black pepper and cayenne pepper and stir, then cover and cook on a medium heat.

  • Once the apples have softened completely, stir in the mustard.

  • Add the honey and mix in well.

  • Transfer the mixture to a blender and blitz until smooth.
  • Season with salt and check for taste. At this stage, you could adjust sweetness or acidity by adding a little honey or vinegar, if you wish. I was happy with the taste, so didn’t adjust mine.

Parsnip & Potato Puree

Equal quantities of potatoes and parsnips, by weight
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
A splash of double cream, to loosen

  • Peel and chop the potatoes and parsnips and boil till soft.
  • Transfer to a food processor.
  • Add salt and pepper and a splash of cream.

  • Blitz until smooth. Adjust seasoning and add more cream if required.

Although the beef was cooked medium-well rather than my intended medium-rare, the quality of the beef meant it was still delicious and I loved the combination of flavours from the spice rub and the Cackalacky sauce. The mellow sweetness of the parsnip and potato puree worked very well against the sharp mustardy flavours. And the cabbage, carefully not overcooked, gave a lovely freshness and crunch to the plate.

This is very different to anything else in my normal cooking repertoire but has been a fun and successful exploration. If you try making it yourself, do let me know how you get on!

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
17 Comments to "Kavey’s Cackalacky Roast Rib of Beef"

  1. Jacqui M

    I'm so making this after New Year once I'm in need of a serious meal again, a dish with all off my favourite food things. And Grey Poupon Dijon I have been known to eat out of the jar on it's own!!

  2. Diane Woodard

    Kavey, Cackalacky sauce is made right here in NC — I can get you a bottle for your pantry…it is a wonderful condiment. “Cackalacky” is a slang term referring to Carolina, but surely your search turned up http://www.cackalacky.com ? We really need to get you and Pete here for a good visit. There are so many local brew pubs and the craft breweries are growing exponentially. (Beer is the right beverage to accompany a good BBQ)

  3. Kathleen

    This is the first I've heard of it, and despite being a “northerner” (although by New England definition, I am not a “Yankee”, by “southern American” definition, I am a Yankee, and let's face it, by heritage, I am a Canadian) I absolutely LOVE barbecue! I think part of my love of barbecue stems from the fact it's just plain delicious, but part is from the fact I grew up in Detroit and most African Americans living in this area have relatives in the south, and at least 7 recipes apiece for various barbecue sauces.

    Funny, though, is that in Montreal, the last time I visited the city, we went to a barbecue place, and I found it VERY different from American barbecue. It, too, was mustard-based, but very little “tang”, and I sensed honey had been used. The sauce was thinner than yours, Kavey (and I am a fan of a thicker sauce, so well done you on adding apple to thicken yours), and slightly paler in colour. Actually one of my cousins had her wedding reception in this place, called Chalet Barbecue, and she told me this rather sheepishly. I told her it sounded like fun and she should have had her wedding reception wherever she darned well pleased! Kavey, the recipe looks like a winner–love the ingredients and how you plated it up with the Savoy cabbage and the potato-parsnip dish.

    Cackalacky is a fun word! (Kind of like “pamplamousse” or “zingara”!) Thanks very much indeed for your introduction to this cuisine.

  4. Dom at Belleau Kitchen

    Um… Yea Please!!!! Blimey Kavey. What a fabulous feast. I adore the sound of that sauce but those creamed parsnips and the beef… Oh the beef! And I'm enjoying greatly your 'masterchef' style swoosh of sauce on the side… made me chuckle. Great looking dish xxx

  5. Kavey

    Jacqui, I love mustard but although I was familiar with the GP brand, I'd never actually tried it before! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

    London bakes, it was a lovely bit of meat, I was annoyed I cooked it too long, but it was still tender and delicious, thank goodness! Enjoy!

    Debs, it sure is!

    Helen, absolutely you should!

    Diane, I'd love to try a bottle, you're so lovely… and yes I did indeed come across that site. A visit would be really lovely, one day!

    Ailbhe, it's a good combination, I think!

    Kathie, I think you'd really enjoy this sauce and it's very simple too. Yeah I wanted a thicker sauce than Summers' one… I found a lot with sweet potato which seems traditional but one which mentioned apple, so of course, that jumped out at me… and yes, a lot of what attracted me initially, until I was drawn by the flavours, was the word Cackalacky itself, great sound, right!

    Dom, aaw, thanks for noticing my MC style swoosh of sauce, it made me giggle but was thinking no-one had noticed it. I did want the plate to look nice, given that it's a competition, but I'm really bad at pretty plating, it's just not something I do, so that was my attempt!!!!

  6. Swedish Mike


    That Cackalacky BBQ Sauce looks amazing.

    I'm thinking of cooking/smoking some brisket quite soon – I think I'll steal this recipe and use it together with that.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    // Mike

  7. Corina

    I've never heard of this sauce before but it sounds amazing! I'm sure it would be great with pork too because of the apple and the sweetness.

  8. Lisa

    This looks gorgeous. Is GP a spicy mustard or a mild one? I ask because I am a total wuss. I like the dark French mustard and American yellow.

  9. Shu Han

    love the step by step photos, just the colour of all the herbs and spices that went into the rub and sauce is enough to convince me that the finished dish is going to be amazing. this is the first time i've heard of the Cackalacky sauce though, but with a name like that, I'm definitely going to check it out!

  10. Kavey

    Mike, I think your smoked brisket with the Cackalacky sounds ace… would love to know how that comes out!

    Corina, it's a really nice combination!

    Jennie, I'm not entirely sure on that one but you could make it with, er, Norwich mustard instead if you like! ;-P

    Lisa, it's fairly mild but you can use any smooth yellow mustard of your choice so if there's one you particularly like, go for that one!

    Shu Han, glad you like the step by step photos. Taking them makes it slightly more chaotic in the kitchen but I like following step by step pictures myself so I try to provide them when I can! Enjoy!


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