Food & Drink

The best sticky ribs

STICKY RIBS are one of the most delightful things to get your teeth into quite literally!

They have to be juicy and tender and so cooking them correctly is important.

We often put these little ribs on our lunch time tapas menu and clients just love them!

Spring is dawning and it’s a real treat to eat great ribs with a crispy green salad for lunch. Meat on the bone always tastes better.

The nearer the bone the sweeter the meat is an old 14th century proverbial saying and it is so true.

The first thing we have to do is select the pork ribs which should be fresh and of even proportions (not too much white fat).

Buy them as a complete rack and never buy them pre cooked as they are always only ok and we want the Wow factor!

The first time I ever cooked these little ribs was for a wedding party about 20 years ago that had ordered ribs and burgers at midnight after the main reception was closed.

One of my chefs suggested using cola as a marinade and having never cooked them like this before I experimented.

We found the best way was to boil the ribs in the cola first for about two hours and then glaze and roast them afterwards.

Having experimented with so many versions using cola from the bar we hadn’t realised that we had used up a lot of the cola in stock.

It turned out that the groom’s drink was vodka and cola and when we ran out of cola he went into despair and jokingly said “if I can’t get vodka and coke I’m going to jump in the river!” Our hotel (Sheene Mill which my daughter now runs) sits on the river Mel near Cambridge.

The groom playfully jumped into the river and got stuck in the mud. No one could reach him and so my manager called me and by this time I was at home in bed. When I got to the hotel there was the groom up to his neck, in the mud.

I quickly dived in and pulled him out, he was very apologetic, very intoxicated and very muddy!

The next morning I spoke with the family to check that he was ok, they were all so very apologetic and then I said well if I hadn’t of used so much of the coke for the ribs none of this would have happened!

They looked confused and politely smiled, (they didn’t know about the coca cola ribs) thanks for being so understanding they said!

Ribs cooked in Cola with BBQ glaze


Two racks baby back pork rib

Three cans of cola

Two tsp toasted sesame seed (optional)

Approx. 250ml of chicken stock (caldo pollo)

For the glaze:

Two tbsp tomato ketchup

Two tbsp Honey

Two tbsp Soy sauce

Two tbsp BBQ Sauce (in most supermarkets)

Two tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Two teaspoons of dried chilli seeds

Method • Pre heat oven to 160C fan

• Pour the cola (save about ½ a can for later) and enough chicken stock to cover the ribs in a deep sauce pan, then bring to the boil and keep on a rapid simmer for at least 2 hours, until the ribs are really tender (you should be able to remove the bone easily) but they shouldn’t be falling apart.

• Put all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Gently heat for about two minutes.

• When the ribs are done, carefully lift each out of the pan and cut into halves so that you have four equal sized pieces and put them in a roasting tray. Coat neatly all over with the sticky sauce and pour the remaining cola around (not over). Cover and refrigerate if wanting to use them later or roast straight away. (They are even better when they sit in the fridge with the glaze on for a while.)

• Roast in your preheated oven (or BBQ) Heat the barbecue on a low heat and place ribs on the BBQ glazed side upwards so just the bones are on the heat. Cook for 15/ 20 minutes, baste if necessary with any remaining sauce.

When ribs are hot and crisping on the outside, serve. Scatter with sesame seeds (I love them with toasted peanuts scattered on them) and a crispy salad.

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