Got a bit excited this morning and started cooking a load of pork spare ribs that were going for a song at our brilliant local farm shop - not much call for ribs in Winter apparently.
Seeing as I spent a bit of time on them and they turned out rather tasty, I thought I should share. Totally improvised, no recipe used, though along the lines of previous rib action. All quantities estimated as I don’t normally measure anything.
Three stage process:
1 - The Rub
First, always do this, which allows the flavour to penetrate:
Obviously quantities depend on how many ribs are going in, but ratios are 1:1:1:1:1 of
- Smoked paprika
- Garlic powder
- Brown sugar
You can also add chilli (same ratio) at this stage, but I wanted my kids to eat this.
- Dry the ribs with kitchen roll
- Mix together and rub onto the meat. Easiest way is to use an appropriately-sized re-sealable plastic bag, chuck in the ribs and rub and shake it about until the meat is covered.
- Discard any rub that doesn’t stick
- Leave in the fridge for up to 12 hours. Mine were in for 3 as it was all done today.
2 - The Slow Cook
I use an electric slow cooker, but a heavy-duty casserole in a low, low oven should be fine.
- 1 Onion, chopped
- Some garlic cloves (I used 3), chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed, ground (best if you roast and grind your own)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, ground (see mustard)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, ground (also see mustard)
Spice quantities above flexible according to taste. I love cumin and again, to keep it mild for the kids I kept the mustard low
- 1 can cider / perry
- Generous squirt of ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Juice of 1 grapefruit
- 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke
- Unsalted stock (optional)
- Sweat down an onion with a little salt. Butter, olive oil, pig fat, up to you
- When the onion is soft add garlic for a few minutes
- Add the ground spices, gently fry for a couple of minutes
- Add the tin of cider / perry, when it’s finished foaming, add the other liquid ingredients except the stock, if using.
- Put your ribs in the bottom of the slow cooker, then pour the liquid over the ribs.
- You want the liquid to cover the ribs, so add water / stock as required.
- Press low / put in the oven, for around 5 hours. You want the racks to stay on the bone, but the meat super tender, no chew.
3 - Saucy!
- Nothing else necessary, unless you want
- When tender, remove the ribs from the liquid and place on a flat tray.
- Depending on your approach to food safety, you might want to keep them hot/warm
- Activate oven / grill / BBQ. Fairly high heat
- Put all the liquid in a saucepan, cook on high to start reducing.
- The amount of time this will take depends on how much water / stock you added for the slow cooking
- When the sauce is about 50-60% reduced, baste the ribs liberally with the liquid.
- Keep reducing the sauce
- Heat up the ribs with whatever heat sauce you chose.
- Keep basting every 5 or 10 minutes, until you have two things:
- The sauce reduced to lovely thick consistency, coating the back of a spoon (you can blitz with a stick blender if you want to remove any onion texture)
- The ribs coated with a thick, slightly crusted sauce
- When the sauce is finished, taste for last-minute seasoning. Whatever alterations you might want to add - sweet, piquant, spicy, salty or savoury should be judged on the final taste. If you do this before reducing it could be out of balance.
Unless, of course you are a seasoned pro
- Use all the remaining sauce for pouring, dipping, drinking, whatever
Be prepared to get messy and enjoy!