This cooking method – courtesy of Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food cookbook – is simply the best way of cooking ribs I’ve ever come across: time after time the results are soft, juicy and falling off the bone.
1 rack pork baby back ribs, trimmed of excess fat
3 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
For the glaze
3 red onions, sliced
3 star anise
1 tsp Chinese five-spice
4 tbsp apple juice
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3. Get yourself three layers of tin foil about a third as long as the rib rack. Place the ribs in the centre, drizzle with oil and rub all over with the five-spice and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Seal into a tight parcel and pop on a tray in the middle of the oven for three hours, or until tender and cooked through.
2. To make the glaze, add a glug of oil to a frying pan and add the onions and star anise. Cook until soft and starting to caramelise, for approx. 15 mins. Stir in the five-spice and the rest of the ingredients and leave to bubble for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat off and leave to cool a little.
3. Fish out the star anise, transfer the mixture to a blender and pulse until smooth. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any pulp.
4. After three hours, remove the ribs from the oven. Open the tin foil parcels and brush the ribs with a good layer of glaze. Turn the oven up to 200C/Gas 6 and bake the ribs for 8-10 minutes. Brush the ribs again with the glaze, then cook for a further 5 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and serve with potato salad, or spring onions and radishes. Transfer any leftover glaze to a bowl and dunk the ribs in it.
(Make sure you have finger bowls filled with warm water at the ready – because you’re about to get seriously messy!)