© David Loftus
Sticky barbecued ribs
This is a fail-safe method for amazing ribs that doesn't involve lots of work. I've simplified it into two stages – dry rub and cook, then barbecue sauce and glaze. You'll need to buy the ribs from your butcher, as you won't find proper ones at a supermarket. You can cook them the day before, let them cool, and just glaze the next day. The sauce has to balance sweet, sour, salty and heat.
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3. For the rub, use a pestle and mortar to pound up the fennel seeds, cloves, cumin, black pepper and a good pinch of sea salt until you have a coarse powder. Add the paprika and thyme leaves, then strip in the leaves from 3 to 4 rosemary sprigs and bash it all together, then pound in the garlic cloves.
Lay the ribs in a large baking dish, scatter over the dry rub and massage it in, making sure all the meat is really covered. Turn the ribs 'sad-face' down in the tray then add a few rosemary sprigs and the orange juice. Cover the tray tightly with a double layer of tin foil and cook in the oven for 3½ to 4 hours, or until the meat between the ribs feels tender when you pinch it with your fingers.
For the barbecue sauce, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Have a taste and tweak the flavours until it's right for you. Whatever vibe you're going for, you want to go slightly too far as it will mellow when it cooks. You don't have to, but it's nice to put it on the heat for a couple of minutes to help it along.
Portion up the ribs into pairs, following the bones, then brush that gorgeous sauce all over them, or simply dunk in the sauce. There's a fair sense of urgency as you want to get them all cooking at the same time. Put the ribs on the barbecue in an area with low heat. Once the sauce on top of the ribs starts to dance, flip them over. Keep the temperature down, and start brushing on sauce to build up layers of glaze – as long as they don't burn you're on to a good thing. You can also cook the ribs in a baking tray under the grill for 5–10 minutes, until they're lovely and crisp on the outside.
serves: 8 to 10
• 2 long racks of pork belly ribs (roughly 3kg each)
• a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
• Juice of 1 orange
for the dry rub
• 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
• 5 cloves
• 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
• a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
• a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
• 3 cloves of garlic
for the barbecue sauce
• 120ml tomato ketchup
• a few drops of Tabasco
• 3-4 tablespoons runny honey
• 3 tablespoons apple juice
• a few swigs of Worcestershire sauce
• a swig of balsamic vinegar
• 1 clove of garlic, finely grated