I have been asked many times over the years for my barbecued ribs recipe and I have a little confession – I’ve never really written it down, until now. Remember that this recipe is simply a guide; the technique and good quality ingredients are all that matters. If you like the sauce sweeter, make it sweeter. I am partial to a combination of brown sugar, treacle and golden syrup. I don’t use white sugar for this. If you want it smoky (without the 12 hours in a smoker) try liquid smoke.
Let’s start with the meat: you will need ‘racks’ of baby back pork ribs, USA style. Allow for one rack to feed one good size man. Avoid using spareribs; the baby backs have a tonne of meat and are delicious when treated properly. I have found that Rode Meats in Stafford Heights and Meat at Billy’s in Ashgrove have the best quality baby backs around. Well worth visiting either shop. Make sure that the butcher has trimmed the ribs. The long ends are grisly and unpleasant – the best ribs are a long rectangle in shape (not triangular). Ask the butcher if they have removed the membrane on the back of the ribs – this is REALLY important. It’s the difference between fall of the bone meat and gnawing on shoe leather. If you must do it yourself, take a sharp knife to loosen a corner and start peeling (see images).
The meat needs a nap in a dry rub.
Dry Rub Ingredients (I don’t bother with measurements but here you go):
1 Cup Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Dry Mustard
2 Tablespoons Sweet Paprika
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
2 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Salt (good salt – I use Murray River Salt)
2 teaspoons ground pepper
Mix it in a bowl and rub all over the ribs, cover with cling film and let them rest in the fridge for up to 24 hours (if you have to skip the resting time, then skip it but try to give them at least an hour or 2).
Time for the first cook – yep, you cook ‘em twice. This cook can be done 24 hours ahead (keep them in the fridge and bring them back to room temperature before heading to the barbecue). Heat your oven to 150 Degrees Celsius (fan forced). Place the ribs into a large roasting pan (its ok to stack them up) and add 4 or 5 bottles of whatever beer (stick with a lager or pale ale – stouts are a bit too much) you have handy. You want to cover most of the ribs but not drown them. Cover with 2 sheets of heavy-duty foil and cook them for 2.5 hours. At the hour mark, give them a turn. You will know that they are done when the meat comes away from the bone easily when you bend a rib section. If it resists, give it another 30 minutes. You should have a little cooking liquid left and that is just fine.
At this point your barbecue should be on medium to high heat. Mop the ribs with your favourite sauce and cook on the grill side (not the plate) for about 20 – 30 minutes, turning and mopping several times until you get the desired ‘bark’ and the ribs are hot. My sauce recipe (OK it was originally Bobby Flay’s recipe) is below. Serve with Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Cold Beer and/or Micheladas! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Niki’s ‘it used to be Bobby Flay’s’ Carolina Barbecue Sauce
¼ Cup Olive Oil
2 Onions – chopped
6 cloves of garlic – chopped
2 Cups Ketchup (USE HEINZ KETCHUP) not tomato sauce, ketchup…did I mention that it’s ketchup?
2/3 Cup water
¼ Ancho Chilli Powder (available from Herbies Spices)
1 Tablespoon Sweet Paprika
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
2/3 Cup Dijon Mustard
2/3 Cup Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 Canned Chipotle in Adobo (optional but lovely and a bit spicy…if you like it hot add 2)
¼ Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Honey or Golden Syrup
2 Tablespoons Treacle (or molasses if you can find it)
Salt and pepper to taste
Soy sauce as required
Heat the oil over medium heat and sweat the onion until soft, then add the garlic and cook for a minute – don’t let it brown. Add the ketchup and water, bring to the boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover partially and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes or until you are happy with the flavour. Balance at this point (sweet – brown sugar, salty – salt or a dash of soy sauce, sharp – vinegar), if necessary. Blitz in a blender, or use your hand blender, until smooth and cool to room temperature.