Get BBQ Ribs Right

Ribs. If you like your meat, chances are you'll be a sucker for these.

When cooked properly, ribs are a beautiful thing. The meat should be soft and melting, but still full of flavour from being cooked on the bone. The sauce should be sticky, with a good balance of sweet and heat, and a smoky undertone. Proper finger food, you face should be covered in a grin after you've eaten these - and probably a fair bit of BBQ sauce.

But if you get them wrong, ribs will be pretty  tough and stringy - pretty much inedible to be honest. We have picked the brains of our expert butchers, to find out their tried and tested method for achieving perfect BBQ ribs. If you want to know how to cook ribs well, read on.

The Ribs

First things first. The perfect pork ribs recipe starts with the ribs (obviously). There are two types of pork ribs you can choose between.  Baby back ribs are cut from the top of the rib cage, and so are shorter, fatter in shape and a bit meatier. Side ribs (also known as spare ribs) come from the lower belly side of the pig; these ribs are generally longer, thinner, and contain a bit more fat.

Which would our butcher choose? Side ribs every time. Have you heard of the saying 'fat means flavour'? Well its true, and it also means that side ribs end up much more tender than baby back ribs, which is why we only stock side ribs. Half a rack (4-6 ribs per person) should be plenty for a main meal, unless your greedy (which I would be if were taking about these BBQ ribs)!

home butchers spare ribs Home Butchers quality Northern Irish pork ribs


Now you've got your ribs, the first thing you need to do is check that the membrane has been removed from the back, and if it hasn't, remove it. This is quite easy to do, watch a useful video here.

Then you can prepare your ribs for a long slow braising. Preheat your oven to around Gas Mark 3/160°C. Make a quick spice rub for your ribs - I like to use equal parts brown sugar, salt, smoked paprika and garlic powder (1 tbsp of each per full rack of ribs), then season to taste with pepper and chilli powder.  Place the seasoned ribs into a deep roasting tin, and cover with braising liquid. I use half beer/sweet apple cider and half water. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 2-2.5 hours, until the ribs are tender, and the meat has shrunk away from the ends of the bones.

The Sauce

The BBQ sauce you choose for your pork ribs recipe is a very personal thing. You can of course buy some ready made from the supermarket. These can be perfectly tasty,  but you have gone to so much effort learning how to cook ribs - why take a short cut now!?

You can make the BBQ sauce while the ribs are cooking away, or you can make it in advance and store it in the fridge for a few days - or in the freezer for months. I love Jamie Oliver's BBQ sauce recipe, which includes all kinds exciting things like ginger and fennel, but for a more traditional BBQ sauce, head to BBC Food. Coat the ribs in the sauce and leave for 1-24 hours, to let the flavours sink in.

sauce for bbq ribs


Fire up that BBQ, lets get grilling. For that slightly caramelised, slightly smoky taste, the BBQ is the only way to go - this is a BBQ ribs recipe after all! The ribs will need to be cooked for around 20 minutes, with regular turning, and basting with that delicious BBQ sauce you made, until they are piping hot, crispy and wonderfully sticky.

And there you have it. BBQ Ribs!

ribs recipe

Image Credits
<a href="" title="BBQ Sauce by Dplanet::, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="375" alt="BBQ Sauce"></a>
<a href="" title="barbecue ribs, pork by David McSpadden, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="230" alt="barbecue ribs, pork"></a>
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