Winning Barbecued Pork Ribs – Low and slow

Coming from the UK my only experience of barbeques is that when you mention the word it rains, and everything has to be burnt to a cinder. We don’t really had the weather to develop a BBQ culture, but every summer we persevere and things are getting better. However coming to the US, has opened my eyes to a completely different style of barbecue. Instead of high heat over coals and the risk of burning the food, it is more common to find low and slow cooking, where the whole process takes hours and creates succulent, fall off the bone, tender meat. Since the barbeque season is pretty much from Memorial Day, through the 4th of July until Labour Day, you get a lot more time to practice the art of barbecuing pork ribs.

A while ago I was invited to a Super Bowl party where there was to be a ‘rib-off’. A ‘rib-off’ is like a ‘cook-off’ but with only pork ribs as the entries into the competition. I think there were about 10 entries and mine came second. Pretty good for a foreigner and my first time cooking ribs. I owe all my success to the Internet. In the past it took years of practice and failures to create the perfect dish, but nowadays with a little research, you can easily learn from the whole world’s experiences.

My ‘secrets’ for the best Barbecued Pork Ribs

  1. The first is that you need to be able to cook the pork ribs low and slow. If you have a BBQ that can maintain 110C (230F) for 4 hours them use that as you will end up with more flavour, however an oven can produce perfectly good ribs, which just fall off the bone.
  2. The second ‘secret’ is to ensure that you remove the membrane from the back of the ribs as it is impermeable and will stop flavours getting to the meat
  3. The third is ‘marinating’ the ribs in beer for a least 2 days before cooking to help maintain the juiciness. My personal preference is Shiner Blonde lager, but I suppose anything will do.
  4. The fourth is adding Chinese 5-spice to my Dry rub, which goes fantastically with pork and adds a hint of the exotic.


  • 1 Rack of Pork Ribs
  • 1 330ml (12 fl oz) Bottle of good tasting lager or beer
  • 2 tbsp melted honey
  • Dry Rub
    • 4 tbsp light brown sugar
    • 1.5 tbsp salt
    • 1 tbsp paprika
    • 0.5 tsp chilli powder
    • 0.25 tsp ground black pepper
    • 0.25 tsp ground cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp ground onion powder
    • 0.5 tsp ground garlic powder
    • 1 tsp Chinese 5-spice


  1. The first step is to remove the membrane as this will allow flavours to get to the meat. On the back of the ribs, use the tip of a blunt knife to ‘catch’ the edge of the membrane, and then use a paper towel to grab a hold of it and pull. It should come off fairly easily and in one piece. If not you should be able to start where it broke.

    Removing the Membrane from the Pork Rib

    Removing the Membrane from the Pork Rib

  2. Tidy up the ribs, by removing any flaps of meat. If you are using a spare ribs, then square them up by removing the sternum bone, cartilage, and rib tips if present. Depending on the size of your barbecue or cooking dish, you may want to cut the ribs into two halves for easier handling.

    Tidying up the ribs

    Tidying up the ribs

  3. Take half of the dry rub and liberally cover both side of the ribs.

    Porks ribs with dry rub

    Cover both sides of the ribs with dry rub

  4. Lay the ribs, side by side in a glass oven proof dish or metal tray and pour in the beer. Don’t completely cover the ribs in beer as this will wash off the rub, but we will be adding some more later.
  5. Cover the dish and leave to marinate in the fridge for 48hrs
  6. Heat up the BBQ (or oven) to 110C (230F)
  7. Pour off the beer and apply the other half of the dry rub to the both sides of the ribs
  8. Cover the dish with foil and cook in the BBQ (or oven) for 3.5hrs
  9. Brush the honey on both sides of the ribs.
  10. Return to the BBQ (or oven) uncovered for half an hour
  11. Turn up the heat of the BBQ and crisp up the ribs for about 5mins per side or place under a high grill (broiler).

    Low and slow barbeque pork ribs

    Low and slow barbecue pork ribs

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