Michelle’s Barbecue Ribs..

Michelle’s BBQ Spare Ribs

So a couple of weeks ago i was cleaning up my office and came across a mysterious blue document envelope, and upon investigation of the contents realised that it contained my “long lost recipes” … well not so long lost, just 6 years.

In the move from Malta back home to Australia some how the folder got lost and therefore lost my spectacular rib marinade.

Now I have it and today I tasted it again to confirm it was actually the recipe and decided to post it for all to appreciate (not to mention my blog is backed up so it shouldn’t ever get lost again! )

Preparation is the key

I can’t state this in any clearer way, you can’t rush this, you need to prepare at least the day before. If you forget, forget this recipe, you can’t make it work.

Equipment needed (maybe..)

This is a fun bit… If you have a professional kitchen you probably have everything, If you don’t you do need a couple of things, and there are ways around things if you are missing stuff. So basically if you have everything you will have a stick blender, a good set of knives, a smoker, a good grill. some 90cm stainless steel deep food trays and a commercial fridge (takes the 90cm food trays)..

You probably don’t have a bunch of these so the one thing you need to make sure you have is a good sharp knife. Next, some space in your regular fridge, some deep baking trays. You don’t need a smoker or grill, just a regular oven will do. However, it does make it a lot easier to have some or all of the stuff.

I will run through this with the stuff I have and make alternative comment as and where possible.

The marinade…

For each 4lb (2kg) of pork ribs:

  • 1 cup (250ml) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) tomato ketchup
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Barbeque sauce (if you don’t have a smoker.. make it a smokey one.)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) soy sauce (or Organic Tamari)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Worcestershire Sauce (Lea and Perins!)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Jack Daniels Bourbon
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) Sweet Chilli Sauce
  • 2 (large) cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dry/powder mustard (Keens or Colmans is best.)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • Fresh Rosemary Sprigs (one per rack)

…some water as needed…

Now the hard part … cooking (Part 1)..!

Hark Big Boss Gas Smoker
Hark Big Boss Dual Burner Gas Smoker

Its the hard part because you have to do it in two parts, first is the day (or night before) before…

Now if you’re as fortunate as me to have a beautiful wife that likes to buy you things, you might end up owning one of these beauties, the Hark Big Boss Gas Smoker. If you don’t (nor any other smoker) its not the end of the world, it just means you need to artificially add the smoke to it, which is usually switching the brown/barbecue sauce to one with a really smokey flavour. So either way preheat it to 350F (175C) and get your favourite smoke going (for me its a mix of apple wood chips and mahogany shavings.)

Use your sharp knife (really important this.. sharp!) to cut the racks into half unless you really want to cook them as a whole rack (I don’t recommend this, especially for beginners as they will fall apart later.) Then put a tray under the racks if a smoker to catch the drippings and put the pieces on the shelves. If using an oven, just cover with foil and seal the edges as you want to catch the drippings.

Cook for 90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes), then allow to cool.

Make the marinade…

Seems simple, and it is. Just leave the rosemary sprigs out, and use a garlic crusher and whisk if you don’t have a stick blender, otherwise if like me, just chop the garlic and give it all a good blend. When it’s all nice and smooth just put it to one-side and wait for the ribs to cool.

When the ribs are Part 1 cooked and cooled you need to put marinade in the dripping tray and give it a good stir/scrap to get all the flavour from the ribs mixed in the marinade. Next transfer the ribs from the shelves of the smoker to the tray meat side down and ensure the ribs are fully coated. Cover the tray with foil and put it in the fridge overnight, or as I do, back in the smoker (cold climates only!) You may need to add up to a cup (250ml) of water to ensure there is enough marinade to get on all the ribs and keep the meat submerged.

The easier part … cooking (Part 2)..!

Gas Char Grill
Gas Char Grill

Put your oven or smoker on a very low setting 120F-150F (50C-65C) and put the ribs, tray marinade and all back in the oven for at least 2-3 hours. If you have a gas char grill or BBQ grill you can skip the next step, don’t so next I turn up the smoker (or oven) to 350F (175C). I put the ribs back on the shelves for 30 minutes.

Having no char grill I switch on the oven (top grill) and using a basting brush I keep basting and turning the ribs under the grill. If you’re lucky enough to have a char grill, just put the ribs on it on a medium heat and keep basting. In both cases you want to turn them around four times to keep them moist and build up a char.

Meanwhile, take your marinade tray from the smoker or oven, and put it on the hob(s) and put them on a low heat you want to reduce the marinade (particularly if you added water) to a nice thick and sticky sauce. Baste the ribs directly from this whilst reducing so they’re all done together.


Serve with chips or wedges and salad, but above all…