Sticky chipotle barbecue ribs in my big green egg

sticky barbecue chipotle ribs

My new Big Green Egg arrived and I have been giddy with excitement for weeks about this and plotting and planning what to make in it first. Excited as well as a little insecure. I have never owned my own braai (barbecue), and I wanted to make sure that I did something that went beyond what a normal braai could do, and to show off the immense capabilities of this cooking phenomenon. I also wanted to make sure I didn’t mess things up. I decided to do ribs. I wanted slowly braised pork ribs, with a chipotle barbecue sauce. I imagined gooey, sticky sauce over succulent ribs that fell off the bone.

I was alerted to a recipe on Bon Appetite about an amazing meat rub that could change the way you cook meat forever. I was completely sold. Who am I to argue with such a convincing recipe and as a rookie on the grill, I made no alterations. The recipe for the ‘Midyett rub’ is a guide based on ratios so I decided on my mine, rushed out, and bought a spice grinder to whip this up.

A little about what the creator says about the rub: (you will notice when you click on the article that Midyett is cooking on a Big Green Egg)

The secret ingredient, Midyett says, is sumac. He came up with the rub while trying to recreate the flavours of acclaimed Chicago barbeque joint Lems. Midyett had already incorporated many of the expected ingredients–salt, pepper, the now de rigueur coffee–when he stumbled upon the traditional Middle Eastern spice at the bottom of a carryout bag. “We get delivery from this local Persian restaurant, Noon-O-Kabab,” in Chicago’s Albany Park neighbourhood, “and they always include little packets of sumac,” Midyett says. “I tried some, and it had a distinctively tangy umami taste. My wife said, ‘You should put that on steaks,’ and when I did, I was shocked. It really enriched the primal, animal flavour of the beef. It makes steak taste more like steak.”

The next thing was sourcing the best pork ribs in town. After contacting a few people and checking out a few butcheries, this started to become a slightly more challenging task than initially expected. Most retailers don’t stock amazing pork belly ribs. They seem to stock a lot of par-cooked, basted and vacuum-packed options. I would have had to order in advance but I needed the ribs on a given day. Luckily I found an incredible 1.5kg rack at Raith’s in Garden’s Centre.

The sauce was the easiest part. I had already developed a fabulous barbecue sauce last year when I wrote my book, but I ended up not including it with my recipe for a seven-hour ginger beer pulled pork banh mi. The meat had so much flavour, it didn’t need the extra sauce. So I used this as my base and added a few other bits including Chipotle.

I then needed to find proper wood charcoal, because that is the fuel that fires up the Big Green Egg.

the big green egg

Isn’t she just too beautiful? I think I need to give her a name.

So the date was planned and the ingredients were sourced. The ribs were basted in rub and marinaded overnight for optimum flavour, and I was ready.

The ‘Midyett’ Rub recipe | enough to baste 1.5kg of pork belly ribs

  • 2 T Sea Salt (I used Maldon)
  • 1 T black peppercorns
  • 1.5 t sumac
  • 1.5 t ground coffee
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1.5 t cocoa powder

Place all the ingredients in a spice grinder and pulse until it turns into a fine powder. Be careful not to inhale this when you open the lid. Rub both sides of your pork belly ribs with the rub, place in a Ziploc bag and store in the fridge to marinade over night.

Chipotle barbecue sauce: (enough for this quantity of ribs, but you might want to make more and use it on other things)

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T + 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of tomato sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 3/4 cup of honey
  • 1 – 2 T of chopped chipotle chilli in adobo sauce (2 = quite hot)
  • 1/2 cumin
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika

Saute the onion in the olive oil until soft – about 5 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar and allow the liquid to almost cook off. Add all the other ingredients and cook on a low simmer until the sauce thickens – about an hour. If you find it is too thick, thin it down with a bit more water. Allow it to cool and then process this to a smooth consistency using a hand-held blender.

Remove your ribs from the fridge about an hour before you cook them, bringing them back to room temperature. Light your Big Green egg according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, and get it to a temperature of 180C. Yes, that is right, you can accurately set the temperature of this outdoor ceramic oven.

When it’s settled on 180C, place the ribs in a metal oven dish and cook for 2.5 hours. Here you are getting the benefit of smoke plus controlled oven temperature rolled into one. About 30 minutes before completion baste both sides of the ribs with the sauce, turning once during this time. At the end of this, cook the ribs over the grill for about 3 – 5 minutes a side until the sauce starts to brown and caramelise. This is a quick process because of the high sugar content. You don’t want the sauce to burn.

When they come off the grill, baste once again with more sauce and cut the ribs into individual shards. I served these with my chipotle and apple slaw from my book and baked potatoes.

My friend proclaimed these the best ribs he’d ever eaten. I think they were pretty damn fine and I will definitely be making them again. The rub totally rocks, adding a base layer of flavour with huge depth. The sauce is the right amount of sweetness and spicy that will have you licking your lips and cheeks when you are finished eating. A wet napkin is highly recommended here.

As for my Big Green Egg, I have fallen totally in love with it. I can see why top chefs are now bringing them into their kitchens and why it has a cult following in the USA. I baked a loaf of bread after I made the ribs which came out beautifully, so watch this space as I create more recipes. It goes so far beyond a braai / barbecue, its an outdoor cooking system. It can grill, roast, slow cook, smoke and bake.

I had a few ribs left over so I pulled the meat of the bones and piled these shards on top of grilled toast slices with the slaw. A ridiculously tasty open sandwich.

*My Big Green Egg has been sponsored

I look forward to connecting with you again

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  1. The recipe sounds delish and your ‘big green egg’ looks more like a “big green avacado” ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Yes it doe look a little like an avocado. Its a full camo – so it really blends into your outside space.

  3. Hi Sam,

    This looks unbelievable! Where on earth did you find chopped chipotle chilli in adobo sauce?

    In desperate need.


  4. Hi Carla and thanks. I buy it from Main Ingredient – they sell at the Biscuit Mill on Sat and a few other markets – or contact them here:

  5. Muriel Westerveld says:

    I am in Port Elizabeth-any idea where one can get sumac.thanks,Muriel.

  6. WOW! Yummylicious….

  7. Thanks Shireen, its worth ALL the effort.

  8. HI Muriel, I’m afraid I have no idea, but try your specialty food stores, or try and get someone to bring it from CT or JHB.

  9. I WANT ONE!!!

  10. Isnt it the best.ever. wish you could pop over for a few al fresco dinners in my yard Lolly pops x

  11. My BIL, who stays just outside Nelspruit, bought one recently and he swears that it is the best thing that he bought in a very long time!! The food you made looks absolutely delicious, Sam!

  12. I think you should call it “Humpty Dumpty”!

  13. Great Name – I love it!

  14. Hi There. I don’t have a Big Green Egg but I do have a crock pot. Do you think this recipe will still work? It looks delicious! Thanks, Nicole

  15. HI Nicole, not to sure what a crock pot is, but if it operates like and oven and reaches an internal temp of 180 c I am sure it will work just fine. S ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Nina Carr says:

    Hi Sam, a crock pot is a slow cooker. I don’t think this recipe would work using one, the closest thing would be a Weber maybe, regards Nina

  17. Sam,
    Just checking the temperature you cooked the ribs at was 180C not 180F. Did you use a plate setter ? Or just place the rib on a cookie sheet to cook them ?I’m planning on cooking them tomorrow on my BGE . Where do I find the slaw recipe that’s in the above picture?

  18. HI David, sorry for the late reply. Yes 180C as per the instructions. I simply cooked the ribs in a metal oven roasting dish on the plate setter turned up (ie oven mode). I made a slaw by simply cutting cabbage finely – and I used a dressing of mayo, creme fraiche and chipotle hot sauce to spice it up. Just mix it up adding salt and pepper until you are happy with teh flavour. you wil need about a dessert spoon of dressing per cup of mayo roughly.

  19. 180*C is way too high. You have a smoker, take advantage of it. Put it to 200-225*F and smoke for 5+ hours. I prefer the 3-2-1 method. Your rub and sauce are bomb, but youโ€™re cooking the meat too fast.

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