Ginger beer sticky ribs

Serving size: 2
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

8 pork ribs (I’ve gone for the mathematics of 4 ribs per person but frankly I could eat twice as many)
50g chopped pancetta
7 shallots – roughly chopped
1 fingers length of fresh ginger – peeled and diced
6 bulbs of garlic – crushed
1 375ml bottle ginger beer
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Featured in:
September 2015

I absolutely adore spare ribs. There’s something about food that’s invented to be picked up, and gets you messy, that I love. Like many people in the UK it was Chinese food that first introduced me to ribs as a kid. I would always order them without fail and be salivating whilst I peeled back the cover from that foil box and the heady scent of sweet garlic escaped. I would gnaw those little beauties down to the bone and sometimes beyond, making a complete mess of my entire face, hands and no doubt my shirt.

It wasn’t until I was much older, on my first visit to the States, that I experienced the American Rib in all its sticky glory. At that time I had no idea quite what a big deal it was and how ribs were a massive part of the American food culture, but with their love of the barbecue it all becomes crystal clear.

Isn’t it fascinating how two cultures such as the Chinese and American seem worlds apart but they have very similar foods? Now that we’re in the middle of a food culture explosion here in the UK it’s fascinating to see a return to the food I loved as a kid but delivered in a slightly different way.

My ribs are a fusion of both the American sticky rib and the Chinese garlic rib and they’re extremely simple to make and utterly, utterly divine. I’ve taken the concept of the Coca Cola cooked ribs and given it a twist with some gorgeous ginger beer. I love ginger beer, and anything ginger, so this was an easy win for me. I’ve even enhanced the taste with large chunks of fresh ginger that have become sticky sweet little bombs of flavour in all the slow-cooking.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Place the ribs into a large oven-proof dish that has a lid. Pour over the ginger beer and throw in all the other ingredients and then get your hands stuck in and smoosh it all together.

Pop the lid on and roast in the oven for at least an hour, then take the lid off, turn the heat up to 180C and roast for a further 40 minutes, turning half way. You should end up with a gloriously sticky sauce and some beautifully darkened, meat falling off the bone, ribs.

If you want to cook these on the barbecue then simply do the first stage in the oven and then transfer to a hot grill.

Eat and of course enjoy!

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