There are three reasons why pork spare ribs taste so great. First, their relatively high fat content which bastes and flavours the meat as it braais; secondly, the high bone-to-meat ratio which means that the bones impart further flavour to the meat as they heat up during the braai; thirdly, that sweet and sticky sauce we usually enjoy with them. But marinades and sauces that contain sugar burn easily, so there are two things that can go wrong when you braai spare ribs:
- You remove them from the fire when you think the marinade is starting to burn, but then find the insides still raw.
- You braai them until the inside is done, but by that stage the marinade is burnt.
There is a very easy way to get around these two problems, which is to braai first and marinade later. Don’t marinade or baste the ribs, just braai them and remove them from the fire about 5 minutes before they are ready. Generously smother them in the sauce, then return them to the fire and complete the braai. The ribs will be properly cooked inside and your sauce will be nicely glazed without being burnt.
What you need (feeds 4)
- 1.5 kg pork spare ribs
- ½ cup honey (or golden syrup)
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 1 tot apple juice
- ½ tot soy sauce
- ½ tot paprika
What to do
- Prepare the sauce: Mix all the ingredients (except for the ribs) together in a bowl. If there is anything else you wish to add to the sauce, do so.
- Braai the whole spare ribs over medium heat for 30 minutes until almost done.
- Remove the ribs from the fire and place on a cutting board. Cut into single ribs.
- Toss the ribs into the sauce bowl and coat them well. Use a spoon and/or shake the bowl around. Leave for a minute or three so that the exposed, meaty parts of the ribs can bond with and absorb the sauce.
- Braai the now generously basted ribs for between 2 and 10 minutes until all the sauce is warm and glazed. If during the cutting you saw that the ribs are basically done and will start to dry out, just braai them for a minute or two until the sauce is glazed, but if you saw they still have a way to go, make it closer to 10 minutes or even longer, also exposing the two recently cut sides of each rib to heat by letting them face the coals.
Honey adds a unique flavour to this recipe but you could also substitute golden syrup.
© Jan Braai (photo & recipe)