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I have wanted to perfect a recipe for barbecue pork ribs for a very, very long time. Almost as long as I have been food blogging, and for those of you who have not been around that long might not know, I’ve been at this over a decade. While there are so many other recipes I wish I’d perfected in lockdown, this is one I’m really proud of – slow cooked ribs coated in a Southern style dry rub, before being finished with a sticky, sweet and savoury homemade barbecue sauce either under the grill or on the barbecue.
It all started when my Dad came back from an exploratory trip to Worgans Butchers, just outside Canterbury. In their chiller by the butchers counter they were selling racks of ribs, pre-marinated in either a classic or Asian barbecue. We had them on the barbecue, slow cooking them until tender in the warming oven of the AGA all afternoon first, and quickly went back for more. They tasted okay, but they were generously meaty, so on my next visit to the butcher I asked if they had any ribs that were not marinated. Unfortunately they had just finished prepping the lot, but I ordered some ahead to pick up the next day.
It had to have been one of the best decisions I’d ever made. My three racks of plain ribs without the marinade came untrimmed too, with all the lovely meaty scrags around the edge you just usually don’t get on a rack of supermarket ribs. I was very excited to get started and, after a false start with a rub that just did not gel with the barbecue sauce, I nailed this recipe and we’ve been enjoying it ever since, sometimes going the full hog (to excuse the pun!) with the dry rub and sauce, sometimes just making the dry rub and slathering it with whatever sauce we happen to have on hand at the end. I’m absolutely terrible at getting the barbecue lit so I usually finish these under the grill, but they’re even better on the barbecue if you’re good at it and want to light it especially (though do do some corn on the cob to enjoy on the side) or if you’ve got some other things going.
Fall apart barbecue ribs cooked low and slow with a Southern-inspired dry rub before being finished on the barbecue or grill slathered in an easy homemade barbecue sauce.
For the Ribs
25g (3/4 oz) soft dark brown sugar
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried garlic granules
1/2 tsp dried onion granules
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
600–700g (approx 1 1/2 lb) rack pork ribs
For the Barbecue Sauce
5 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt
Pre-heat the oven to 135 degrees (275 fahrenheit). Combine all the ingredients for the pork dry rub.
Lay the ribs out on a large double layer of kitchen foil – if you’ve got some of that extra large foil leftover from the Christmas turkey, that would be perfect here. Rub all the dry rub into both sides and the edges of the ribs – don’t worry if a little excess falls into the foil.
Tightly fold the ribs into the foil leaving no gaps for any moisture to escape. If you’re not sure you’ve sealed it well enough, lay out another piece of foil, lay the rib packet seam side down, and wrap it again. Place in a large baking dish and cook for 3 hours.
Meanwhile, whisk all the barbecue sauce ingredients together until smooth.
Pre-heat the grill to medium high, or get the barbecue lit and ready for cooking. Once the rib packet is cool enough to touch lift them out onto a lined baking tray (oven) or a cutting board (barbecue).
Brush each side liberally with sauce and either grill or barbecue the ribs until the sauce has just started to charr. Regardless of cooking method, baste the ribs with the remaining sauce each time you turn them. If you have any sauce leftover after cooking, brush this on the ribs just before serving.
If you’re cooking for a crowd you can slow cook the ribs in advance, just lower the heat of the grill or the barbecue accordingly so it has the time to warm the ribs through before getting too charred.
I'm a food writer living in London and the English Countryside. Welcome to my online diary where I share easy, weeknight recipes, foodie travel diaries and some of the best places I've eaten out recently.
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