4 portions. Approximate cost: £3.50 to £10.50 (depending on the rub used and where you buy your ribs, 

Skill level: Easy / Medium (again dependent on the rub)  

Total cooking time: 3 hours (plus an overnight marinade)

  • Prep time: 15 mins (plus an overnight marinade)
  • Cooking time: 3 hours, 

Equipment used:  1 grill rack, 1 baking tray (to catch the mess), a marinade brush and for the complex rub, a frying pan and pestle & mortar. 


I decided that I wanted to make ribs after a trip to Borough Market – after drooling over the the amazing meat on offer numerous butcher stalls, I opted to buy a small rack of pork ribs from the infamous Ginger Pig shop.  I knew ribs took a long time to cook, but didn’t let this dampen my enthusiasm and decided to make these one night when the hubby was out socialising. The whole process was easy and the end result was genuinely, genuinely tasty, but probably not the best idea for a mid week dinner as the grub wasn’t ready until 9.30pm.

(That said, when hubby did get home from the pub just after 10 ish (a little bleary eyed) this went down a treat. I used the time in between to bake a banana loaf, as you do.)

I’ve made these a few times since and become a little more experimental with the marinade – the latest version comes from the Pitt Cue cookbook (a meat lovers bible, but not for the fainthearted, this collection of recipes requires serious effort)

I’ve listed both simple and more complex versions below. 

Serve with rosemary chips and coleslaw (and with lots of napkins) 

To prep:

Both the Guardian recipe (simple) and the Pitt Cue edition (complex) advise you to remove the translucent membrane from the meat – The benefit of getting the ribs from a butcher is that you can ask for them to do this for you. If in doubt however, have a look at the final recipe in the Guardian article. 


Go the whole hog! Pitt Cue Pork Ribs (with House Rub and Mother Sauce)

To prep:

(Original recipe in bold font)

House Rub:

Toast the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and coriander seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan, until the spices release an aroma. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool.

Blitz the toasted spices in a blender to a rough powder (I used a pestle and mortar). Combine with the remaining ingredients (listed below) and mix thoroughly. The ingredients listed below make approximately 300g of rub, you only need 70g here and you can keep the remaining rub in a sealed container for up to 1 week (Great also with chicken) 

Coat the rack all over with the rub.  Wrap the seasoned ribs in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.


Mother Sauce:

Now the recipe for Mother sauce was pretty complex; take 500g of beef trim, 100g of pork dripping, some Madeira plus 11 other ingredients and you will make one of the best BBQ bastes going… OR…. you can buy Heston’s finishing jus as recommended by this very clever chap – the ingredients are almost identical. 


To cook:

The original recipe states to use an outdoor BBQ. A lovely idea, but not all that practical unless you want to make these during the 4 weeks of the infamous British summer. 

Instead, I follow The Kitchn’s how to make great ribs in the oven” instructions:


Prepare the baking sheet: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a cooling rack on top. Lay the ribs on top of the rack in a single layer. This arrangement allows for heat circulation on all sides of the ribs.

Broil the ribs: (The English equivalent of “broiling” is “grilling” – basically top heat). Heat the broiler and place an oven rack a few inches below the heating element. Make sure the meaty side of the ribs is facing up. Broil the ribs for about 5 minutes, until the ribs are evenly browned

Bake the ribs: Set the oven to 300°F. (150 C) Move the ribs to an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Roast for 2.5 to 3 hours for spare ribs or 1.5 to 2 hours for baby back ribs. Halfway through cooking, cover the ribs with aluminum foil to protect them from drying out.

Brush with barbecue sauce or marinade: About 30 minutes before the end of cooking, brush the ribs with your sauce or jus, re-cover with foil, and finish cooking.

Rest the ribs and serve: The ribs are done when a knife slides easily into the thickest part of the rib meat. Let them rest, covered, for about 10 minutes, and then cut between the bones to separate the individual ribs. 


Pitt Cue The Cookbook Pork Ribs


Ingredients: (makes 300g)

  • 1 rack of pork ribs (£8 for a big rack from the butchers, £3.50 for a small rack from the supermarket)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 100g soft dark brown sugar
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 100g fine salt
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 50g paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 packet of Waitrose finishing jus for beef (£2.49)



OR, if the above all looks a bit much. Try the the Guardian’s perfect ribs for a simple alternative.


To prep:

Mix together the marinade ingredients and rub about half into the ribs.

Put in a shallow dish, cover and leave in the fridge for 4 hours, turning once or twice during this time to make sure the entire rack is coated (Again, best to do the night before)


To cook:

Remove the ribs from the fridge at least 30 minutes before you intend to cook to allow them to come to room temperature.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and cook for about 2½ hours until tender, basting once or twice during this time, and removing the foil for the last 15 minutes. The rack should end up floppy.

The recipe then instructs to finish cooking on a BBQ or a griddle pan. I brushed the ribs with the remaining marinade and popped this under the grill.



  • 1 rack of pork ribs (£8 for a big rack from the butchers, £3.50 for a small rack from the supermarket)
  • 1 tbsp Marmite
  • 1 tbsp English mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 1/2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar