Slow-Cooked Barbecue Ribs

This is a great way to ensure you get the tenderest ribs you can imagine, such a brilliant and memorable dish for a casual dinner party, or to crack out at a barbecue. Cook long and slow and they will be falling apart, in all the best ways. This is also a great shortcut to creating homemade pork stock as a by-product.

Make sure you cook the ribs on the stove or in the oven for a while first to render the fat, otherwise your stock will be cloudy and sour, and the ribs will be more likely to fall apart during the cooking process.

To marinade the ribs after slow-cooking, either use the “BBQ” marinade below, or simply with loads of cracked black pepper, fresh thyme, maple syrup and lemon juice, and roast or barbecue them until they’re sticky and delicious! They will already be fully cooked through from the slow-cooking, so you just need to reheat them to serve which makes them a perfect hassle-free option for a barbecue.

The ingredients list for the BBQ marinade may seem quite long, but these are all great things to have on hand in a low-FODMAP kitchen to replace garlic and onion flavours in a multitude of recipes. Makes enough marinade for two racks of ribs (or one served with the extra marinade as sauce!), so adjust as necessary. It would keep well in the fridge, probably just about forever, so make a big batch if you want to put it on everything (and why wouldn’t you?).

Note about the stock pan: you can get a good one of these for £20-£30, just make sure you get one with at least 6L capacity if you want to make more than one rack of ribs at a time - it’ll also come in handy for making jams and marmalades, and chicken stock from carcasses and slow-cooked wings! If you don’t have one and don’t want/don’t have time to buy one, this works just as well with one rack of ribs in the pan of a steamer set, or even a casserole dish.


FODMAP-rating: Good; avoid onion/garlic-based mustard, and use a gluten-free soy sauce.
Difficulty: easy
Time: 20 minutes preparation time, 2-8 hours slow-cooking time, plus marinating time
Serves: 2-4. We normally devour one rack between two of us, with a salad as a regular dinner, but add more sides (like pasta salad and slaw, and perhaps chicken wings and burgers) and this will stretch much further!

Ingredients:

To Slow-Cook the Ribs:

  • 1 or more racks of pork ribs
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5-6 spring onions, chopped (no white bits!)
  • 2 slightly crumpled bay leaves (dry or fresh is fine)
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 4-5 whole star anise
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp mixed peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Szechuan pepper
  • Garlic oil (for browning the meat)
  • Splash of alcohol to deglaze the oven dish
  • Salt and pepper (to season the meat)

For the BBQ Marinade:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp nam pla (fish sauce)
  • A few splashes of Tabasco, to taste
  • 1 - 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp American mustard (Heinz makes one without garlic/onion)
  • 1 tbsp nut oil or a really strong olive oil - I usually use hazelnut oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (check ingredients for gluten)
  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (make sure you use one with no garlic or onion, I make my own or use Linghams)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke, optional (you’ll need less if you’re barbecuing the ribs)
  • ½ chicken stock cube in 125 ml water (or use the stock from the ribs)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

To slow-cook the ribs:

  • Take the meat out of the fridge to come up to room temperature before using. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Put the chopped carrots and spring onions into a large stock pan, along with the herbs and spices. Pour 3 or 4 litres of cold water on top.
  • Heat the garlic oil over medium heat in a stove-proof oven dish. When it’s hot, brown the ribs on all sides for 8-10 mins, using tongs or a fork to turn. Repeat as necessary for multiple racks. Plunge the ribs into the stock pan, ensuring that the water comes a good inch over the top of the ribs.
  • Place the stock pan on a low heat, ensuring that the water doesn’t boil. Periodically skim the scum off the surface, and do not cover. Check the water level every now and then. Cook for a minimum of 2 hours, or as long as you like; I tend to cook ribs for 6 - 8 hours. The longer you cook them, the more tender the final product!
  • Remove the ribs very carefully from the stock and put them in an airtight container. They will probably fall apart slightly, but this is not a catastrophe, just an indicator that they are deliciously tender!
  • Use a splash of alcohol (brandy, vodka, whatever is to hand) to deglaze the oven dish. I recommend keeping this dish with all the meaty bits and juices at the bottom and reusing it to make the BBQ marinade.
  • If you are making stock, strain the liquid through muslin cloth (or several layers of kitchen paper) in a sieve, discarding the vegetables and other solids, and transfer the stock to a smaller, clean pan. Put over a low heat and reduce slowly.

For the BBQ Marinade:

  • Toast the spices in a small frying pan over a medium-low heat for a minute or so, until fragrant and slightly darker in colour. Remove from the heat and put into a small bowl to prevent further cooking.
  • Add the maple syrup and mix well to form a smooth paste.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, mixing as you go. Pour your marinade into a stove-proof oven dish and heat gently on the stove - if you’ve kept the pan you used for browning the ribs, use this one for maximum meaty flavour.
  • Crumble half a stock-cube into the mix and add 125ml water, or use homemade stock. Reduce until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, scraping every last bit out of the dish.
  • Put the ribs into an airtight container, pour the marinade over, put the lid on and shake it around gently to ensure the ribs are evenly coated.
  • When you’re ready to start cooking, preheat the oven to Gas 5/6, 200 C, with a clean oven dish in to preheat, at least 15 minutes.
  • When the oven is up to temperature lay the ribs in the oven dish, spoon a little of the marinade over the meat. Be sure to keep some of the marinade back for later.
  • Turn and baste periodically (every 10 mins or so) until sticky. Since the ribs are pre-cooked you’re not worried about cooking through raw meat at this point, so cook them until they look delicious.
  • Apologise to whoever has to wash the very splattered oven dish - for this reason I use an enamel dish, it washes beautifully easily!