Another one of those “that’s a new one on me” blog posts. Pork riblets are a small, meaty rack of unevenly cut pork ribs, a perfect size for a single serving. They are incredibly tasty, and normally great value. Cooked low and slow, with a spicy, warm basting sauce made by my wife, we present some delicious pork riblets with chipotle sauce.
Pork Riblets with Chipotle Sauce
|5-10 mins prep
5 hours cook
|Sweet Thai chili and turmeric rice|
What Are Pork Riblets?
Pork riblets look like a narrow rack of three ribs. I had a great conversation about them with Gregg Harrison at Sherwood Foods, where the riblets originated (I sourced them from Riverside Garden Centre). He explained that they are cut from the shoulder, near the neck. They are irregularly shaped, so don’t make a great cut for separating into evenly sized ribs. However, they are a perfect size cooked as a whole for a main course. The meat on them is quite thick, which gives rise to slightly different textures and tastes in the ribs.
In the method below, I present options for cooking in a conventional kitchen oven and smoker such as a Big Green Egg. If you’ve cooked spare ribs or baby back ribs using a low and slow method, this is almost identical.
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Measuring spoons
- Small bowl
- Kitchen towel
- Kitchen foil
- Roasting rack and tray (oven cooking)
- 4 pork riblets
- 4 tbsp seasoning (see below)
- 2 tsp salt
- Rice vinegar
- Shaoxing rice wine
- Cherry smoking chunk (optional)
- 35g tomato puree
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½-2 tsp tamarind paste
- 1-3 tsp chipotle sauce
- 2-3 tsp seasoning (see below)
For the seasoning, I used Dizzy Pig Peking rub. If you don’t have this available, use Chinese 5 spice mixed with a little onion powder. Or leave the rub component out of the dish.
Tamarind is very potent, especially in paste form (as one of my readers recently discovered). Chipotle sauce the same. If you’re not used to these flavours, they could overwhelm the sauce and ruin the dish. Add a small amount and taste, then add more to increase the depth of flavour to suit.
- Unwrap the pork riblets, pat them dry with kitchen towel. Remove membrane from the back of the ribs with a sharp knife. Sprinkle salt on the top of the riblets, and then coat with the rub (if being used).
- Pre-heat the oven or Big Green Egg (indirect setup) to 125°C/250°F. If using a smoking chunk, toss it onto the coals when they are glowing and wait for the thin blue line of smoke.
- When the oven or Egg are at temperature, place the riblets inside on a cooking rack. If using an oven, suspend this over a roasting tray. Cook for 2 hours.
- Remove the riblets from the oven or Egg. Place a piece of kitchen foil large enough to encase a riblet on a worksurface. Curl up the edges of the foil, pour 1 tsp rice wine and 1 tsp rice vinegar onto it. Add the riblet and wrap it in the kitchen foil. Repeat for the remaining riblets.
- Return the wrapped riblets to the oven or Egg. Cook for another 2 hours. Meanwhile, combine all of the sauce ingredients into a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Add enough water to give the consistency of double cream, around 30ml.
- Remove the riblets from the oven or Egg. Carefully unwrap them, there will be hot liquid inside the foil. Apply sauce to the top of each riblet, then return to the oven or Egg. Cook unwrapped for up to an hour.
- Remove the riblets, carve them and serve. I garnish mine with toasted sesame seeds. Leftover sauce can be heated up and poured over the ribs, or used for dipping.
Hints, Tips and Pictures
- During the last hour, check every 15 mins to see if more marinade is needed (sometimes they can dry out), or the ribs are done. I normally go for 40-45 minutes to get the desired effect with the sauce.
- This video clip shows how to remove membrane from the ribs: