Episode #11: Baby Back Ribs

Episode #11:
Baby Back Ribs

James and Sam tuck in to two melt in the mouth racks of baby back ribs. In one of their weirdest culinary adventures yet, they stumble upon an ancient Ethiopian cooking style that transforms pork using an unusual ingredient – coffee. Yum yum.

Smoked Berbere
Baby Back Ribs

Inspired by Marcus Samuelsson’s Berbere Spare Ribs.


  • 50g brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp berbere spice mix (can be found in large supermarkets, otherwise recipe here)
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 rack baby back ribs (trimmed – silverskin removed)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • Thumb sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes (200g)
  • 90g tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ chipotle chili in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 120ml brewed coffee


  • The day before, mix together in a bowl the brown sugar, 2tbsp of the Berbere spice mix, the paprika, salt, thyme, garlic powder and onion powder.
  • Work the rub in to the ribs, making sure to fill in any nooks and crannies. Place on a baking sheet, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours.
  • Next make the sauce. In a medium sized pan, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat then add the onions, garlic and ginger. Sweat for 5 mins or so until softened.
  • Add the maple and light brown sugar, stirring slowly for 2 mins until the mixture begins to caramelise.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients plus 300ml water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about an hour. Leave to cool.
  • The next day, set up your BBQ grill for indirect heat. Light the coals and slowly raise the temperature to a 110c (200f) by controlling the airflow.
  • While your coals are coming up to temperature, remove your ribs from the fridge and place on a sheet of kitchen foil. Lightly coat in about a 1/3rd of the sauce, then loosely wrap the foil around the ribs to create a seal.
  • Place the wrapped ribs on the cool side of the BBQ grill and cook for 2 and 1/2 hours. Baste again with 1/3rd of the sauce then place back on the grill, uncovered this time, for a further 2 and 1/2 hours. Feel free to add some soaked wood chips to the fire (I used cherry wood) for extra depth of flavour.
  • After five hours total cooking time your ribs should be almost falling apart. Your internal thermometer should be reading around 91c (195f). If not, continue cooking until the temperature is reached.
  • Remove ribs from the grill. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slather over the remaining sauce and serve. Baked potatoes and a zingy citrusy salad make for good side dishes.

Cheaters Memphis-style Oven Baby Back Ribs

Inspired by Memphis Dust from AmazingRibs.com and Sticky Oven Barbecue Ribs from CafeDelites.com.


  • 30g firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 30g white sugar
  • 20g paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 rack baby back ribs
  • 100ml tomato ketchup
  • 25ml red wine vinegar
  • 25ml maple syrup


  • In a medium sized bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients. Reserve 2 tbsp of the mix – you will need it for later.
  • On a baking sheet, coat the ribs in the spice mix you have just made. Cover with cling film and refrigerate over night.
  • The next day, preheat your oven to 180c (350f). Remove the ribs from the fridge and place on a raised wire rack in a roasting tin. Boil about 500ml of water (1 pint) then pour in to the bottom of the roasting tin, making sure that the water level does not come up to the level of the wire rack.
  • Using large sheets of kitchen foil, cover the whole thing, creating a sealed tent over the ribs. You want the steam from the water at the bottom of the tin to flow over and around the ribs, so try to join the seams of the foil so that they touch the ribs as little as possible.
  • Place in the oven for two hours.
  • While the ribs are cooking, make the barbecue sauce by combining the ketchup, maple syrup, red wine vinegar and reserved spice mix in a small pan. Cook over a low heat until thickened and rich.
  • Ten minutes before the ribs are done, remove from the oven and take off the foil. Increase the oven temperature to 240c (460f). Slather half of your sauce all over the ribs, then return to the oven uncovered for a further ten minutes until charring at the edges.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for ten minutes before slicing. Slather with the remaining barbecue sauce. Serve with corn bread and coleslaw.