There are some memories of childhood that will never stop giving me joy. Back in South Africa in the ’80′s, the biggest treat as a kid was to be taken to Mike’s Kitchen where we could tuck into the juiciest, stickiest tastiest spare ribs, get as messy as we liked and not get in trouble for it!
BBQ Ribs are so delicious, and maybe our love for them is a hangover from our caveman days! The best BBQ spare ribs are those that you don’t have to work too hard for to get the meat off the bone, although the meat shouldn’t just flop off either, you need to be able to pick up each rib and easily bite off the delicious sweet meat. Pork ribs work the best for this dish.
In my opinion, unless you have an industrial flame-grill, like you get at Spur and Nando’s, it is not very easy to create the right environment for good pork ribs on the braai (this is the South African word for BBQ), unless you are only braaing (Yes, its a verb too ) ribs and nothing else. But I can tackle that one later, outdoor cooking is another whole world of fun! The trick to getting perfect ribs in the oven, is to cook them long and low.
Now for the sauce. I’ve been some places where you are served up a rubbery quick cooked rack swimming in a sickly sweet and slightly orange bottled BBQ sauce. Yuck! The BBQ sauce needs to cling to the pork ribs, not drip from it. It shouldn’t be sweet, or rather too sweet. The sweetness should be there, but not the main flavour. And I think an element of smokiness is required to give the ribs an authentic flame grilled flavour.
I’ve made a rub / sauce for these ribs. The rub allows you to coat the ribs nicely and get into all the bits. As it it cooks, the rub melts down and mingles with the meat juices to create the best BBQ sauce to drizzle over the ribs, so its a win win! The rub consists of dark muscovado sugar, smoked paprika (it has to be smoked!), garlic salt, olive oil and some tomato sauce. Before you put the rub onto the ribs, you need to remove the membrane that covers one side of the ribs; it can be a tricky job, but it is definitely worth taking it off! I used the end of a teaspoon (the handle end) to work under the membrane and lift it up, then it was as easy as tearing it off.
I cooked the racks in a baking tray on top of some lemon slices. This infuses the slightest citrus flavour into the ribs which complements the rich rub really well. Cover them with a tent of cling-film, this keeps the steam in which keeps them from drying out.
I cooked them at 130°C (250F) for 5½ hours, basting the ribs every so often with the BBQ sauce juices. Take the foil off for the last 15 minutes and turn the heat up to 200°C to create a few nice charred bits. Serve with triple-cooked chips and a bowl of warm water with lemons in to clean your fingers
- 500g rack of ribs
- 4 tbsp Muscovado sugar
- 2 tsp Smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper to season
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
- Using a teaspoon handle, work under the transparent membrane on the side of the ribs, and pull it all away.
- Rub your BBQ marinade all over the rib racks and place them on some sliced lemons in a baking tray.
- Cover the baking sheet with a tent of foil. Bake at 130 degrees in a preheated oven for about 5½ hours, basting the meat every so often with the juices.
- Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes and set the oven to 200 degrees to slightly char the top.
- Serve with chips and enjoy!
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