American-style pork ribs with apple and wombok slaw

Karen Martini's American-style pork ribs with slaw.
Karen Martini's American-style pork ribs with slaw. Photo: William Meppem

Unless you're a diehard American barbecue aficionado, smoky grilled ribs are likely not something you'd be making much at home. However, this recipe results in a pretty delicious simulation. The smoky flavour comes from the sweet paprika and the grill. Cooking the ribs slowly in the oven first results in beautifully tender, moist meat, while the marinade cooks to a spicy, sticky glaze. Needless to say, a bountiful supply of napkins is called for here.


2kg pork loin back ribs

60ml extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp salt flakes

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade

125ml maple syrup

100ml light soy sauce

100ml apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp tomato sauce

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 heaped tbsp ground fennel

1½ tbsp sweet smoked paprika

1 tbsp garlic powder

For the apple slaw

½ wombok, finely shredded

3 apples, finely julienned

2 long green chillies, very finely sliced

½ bunch of mint, leaves picked and torn

zest and juice of 1 lemon

salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

For the slaw dressing

80ml extra virgin olive oil

2½ tbsp apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp sour cream

1 tbsp maple syrup


1. Preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced (190C conventional).

2. Place the ribs in a roasting tray, rub with oil, then season with salt and pepper.

3. For the marinade, add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk to combine, then cook for 10 minutes until reduced by just under half.

4. Brush three-quarters of the marinade all over the ribs, then cover the tray with foil and roast for 1½ hours. 

5. After 1½ hours, the meat will easily come away from the bone. Remove the foil and baste with the marinade in the tray. Roast for another hour, basting every 20 minutes with the reserved marinade until very tender and well glazed. Note: the ribs can be prepared ahead of time, then grilled when ready.

6. Heat a barbecue on medium-low.

7. Grill the ribs for about 5 minutes on each side, shifting them now and then to stop the glaze burning. They will be caramelised and a deep mahogany hue when ready.

8. Meanwhile, to make the slaw, combine the wombok, apple, chillies and mint in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, season with salt and pepper and toss. Place the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, season and combine well, then pour over the slaw and toss to combine.

9. Cut the ribs into sets of two ribs each, then place on a serving board or plate. Serve with the slaw on the side.

Note: This recipe is easily doubled if you're entertaining. It's also best to prepare the slaw just before you need it; just dress with the lemon juice to stop the apple discolouring.