"Earlier in the year, we road tripped through America’s South from Kentucky to Texas, where we stopped at many a roadhouse and indulged in some delicious southern-style cooking. One of our favourites was smoky slow-cooked ribs! We’ve tried to replicate the taste back home using some of the advice we picked up on our journey. The most important things to remember are: the ribs have to be dry-rubbed, cooked slow, mopped with sauce and, just when you think you’re done, add more sauce! Yee-haw! Best served with coleslaw – mmm... flavour town." Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co. 2






Skill level

Average: 3 (70 votes)


  • 2 racks pork ribs (about 20 ribs per rack)
  • pickle and barbecue sauce, to serve


Spice rub

  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika 
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 75 g (⅓ cup) brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt


The mop

  • 115 g butter
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) Worcestershire sauce
  • 2–5 drops Tabasco sauce
  • ¼ cup American yellow mustard
  • 1–2 drops lime juice
  • 2 tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 4–5 tbsp brown sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 2 hours

You will need bags of charcoal briquettes and the chimney starter (see Note)

You will need a box of smoking chips, soaked in bourbon and apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes, then drained (see Note)

To make the rub, place the paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, chilli, pepper, sugar  and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Rub the spice mixture generously over the ribs. Place on a baking tray and set aside for 2 hours. (Alternatively, apply the rub the day before, then refrigerate overnight to infuse the rub.)

To make the mop, place the butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat, then stir in the cider vinegar until well combined. Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, mustard, lime juice, barbecue sauce, curry powder, pepper and sugar. Bring the mop to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside until required (see Note)

Preheat a barbecue with a hood to high (use charcoal if possible to give the ribs the right flavour). Reduce the heat to low and place the ribs on the barbecue grill-plate (avoiding direct heat from the coals). Add the pre-soaked smoking chips to the coals on the flat-plate side of the barbecue and close the lid to allow the smoke to penetrate meat. Cook for 1–2 hours or until the rub has hardened and formed a skin; every 30 minutes, add more smoking chips to the coals to infuse the smoky flavour into the meat.

Once the rub has hardened and formed a skin on the ribs, cover with the mop (any earlier will remove the rub).  Cook for another 4–5 hours, repeating coating with the mop once each layer has hardened.  Plate up the ribs and accompany them with a pickle and barbecue sauce to taste!



• To get a barbecue ready using a chimney starter, fill the chimney with charcoal and place 4–5 blocks of firelighters underneath. The charcoal is ready when you see orange colour deep inside the chimney starter or flames coming out from the top.

• Place charcoal baskets on the barbecue grill-plate and fill with charcoal. You want the coal dust to fall through the grates in your barbecue, leaving the cooking area clean. The ribs will cook on the hot-plate side (preferably on a rack) and slow-cook from the charcoals and the barbecue heat. There’s no guaranteed temperature to use (check the progress regularly!) however, as a rule of thumb, try to hover around the 150˚C mark. You will need to add more charcoal as it burns down to maintain the heat or, if you run out of coals, substitute by using the gas on your barbecue to finish cooking.

• The key to the mop is in the mixing and then, when you apply the mop, plonk it on, don't brush!

• Use Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce when serving, (you can buy this online) otherwise you can use a smoky BBQ sauce to substitute if you wish.


Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.

Poh & Co. 2 Thursdays at 8.30pm on SBS.


View recipes and more from Poh & Co. on our program page.