Pork spare ribs & BBQ sauce

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

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 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 :slight_smile:
  • 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 :smile:


  • 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:
  1. 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)
  2. 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 :man_cook::woman_cook:
  • Use all the remaining sauce for pouring, dipping, drinking, whatever

Be prepared to get messy and enjoy!


Sounds gorgeous! Makes me want to go out and buy some ribs immediately and give your lovely recipe a go. Any wine recommendations or is a cold beer a better/easier match? Thanks!

Well, I messed up because in my excitement for pork, I forgot that my wife had a couple of steaks out that needed to be eaten today!

Let’s just say the kids feasted well tonight, but very happy to report they were generous enough to leave a few scraps for me and Mrs B to get us past stories and through to our supper.

A splash of the Bin 003 from this weekend’s drinking thread worked very nicely indeed. Pronounced fruit and bright acidity a nice match for the rich, sweet pork.

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