Bugger the swine flu – here’s the best Pork Spare Ribs recipe ever

When I started work as a photographers assistant it was back in the days when the big lunch still existed. We would imbibe on a regular basis at The Taj – a then swanky eatery in the old public toilets in Cambridge Terrace.

Mike, who was the restauranter, had on his menu what were undoubtedly the best Pork Spare Ribs known to mankind. I have never had ribs like them anywhere – until twenty years later I started cooking my own.

In recent times pigs have been getting a bad press. This is not warranted especially since they taste so damn good.

The recipe I am happy to share with you began with The Joy of Cooking – the ‘bible’ of the American culinary tradition if there is such a thing. This cook book was first published in 1931.

Here goes:


25-30 pork ribs

These are likely to come in a strip of ‘ribs’. Cut them up and put in a small roasting dish, cover with tinfoil and place in a hot oven (200 degrees celsius) to cook. It’s hard to know how long you need to cook them for (it’s always different for me) but you want to keep the heat on so that the ribs turn a disgusting grey colour. They’ll pong a bit too and appear quite unsavoury. Don’t panic – this is normal.


2 x big onions diced
1 cup of sweet chilli sauce
1 cup of water
2-3 heaped soup spoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the onions in some olive oil. Put everything else in and simmer on the stove for 20-30 minutes. Pour over the grey-looking spare ribs. Leaving the dish covered with tinfoil cook the ribs for another 20 minutes. Remove the tinfoil, then continue cooking for upwards of 1-2 hours checking every 20 minutes or so. You need to continually pour the sauce over the ribs so that eventually the sauce turns into a sweet chilli onion jam.

The ribs will be so mouth-watering-ly tender the meat will fall off the bone. Honestly, my seven year old kids love this, and even though there is a cup of sweet chilli sauce it’s not too hot but still has a kick to make it worth your while.

Enjoy, and please give me your feedback.

3 thoughts on “Bugger the swine flu – here’s the best Pork Spare Ribs recipe ever”

  1. I have found that if you boil the ribs beforehand rather than roasting – you get a more juicy set of ribs in the longrun

  2. Hmmm, probably the same result, except some of the pig fat from boiling could be drained off? I’ll try that next time – thanks Pete.

  3. aaah the Joy of Cooking. When my parents were married they decided one of them needed to cook so they tossed a coin and my father went out and took lessons. He was aided by his mother-in-law who sent a copy of the Joy of Cooking from Boston. My father probably bought 50 copies since then, giving them away to people he liked, including me, for my 21st. This ribs recipe is very close to the recipe for “Barbecue Sauce for Fowl” which is to die for. Can also recommend their recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies and also, waffles.

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