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Recipe: BBQ Pork Ribs

Fresh out of the pages of the Devon Cook Book, this staple from Exeter's Harry's Restaurant is perfect weekend comfort food.

Not so long ago I told you about the Devon Cook Book, a tome which is, frankly, doing the business in celebrating Devon’s produce, dining spots and culinary talents. Now, with the long weekend upon us, I’ve handpicked a recipe from the pages – one that’s perfect for when you have a little more time on your hands than usual.

exterior harrys bar

It’s a staple from the eternally popular Harry’s Restaurant in Exeter and has been for over 20 years; if anyone knows what to do with a rack of ribs it’s these guys – have you been? DO!  Get stuck in, then it’s all round to yours – this one sounds fun!


Harry’s BBQ Pork Ribs

harrys ribs on board with chips

Baby back ribs are taken from the back of the pig and are generally shorter, and less fatty than the belly ribs. They weigh approximately 1kg and include about 10-13 curved ribs. To prepare the meat for rubbing you will need to remove the membrane; this can seem fiddly but is vital. There are some great YouTube tutorials out there to help you!

Preparation time: 15 minutes plus 6 hours drying & marinating | Cooking time: 3 hours | Serves 6


For the homemade rub:

140g light brown soft sugar

100g Maldon salt

25g fennel seeds, toasted and ground

25g ground black pepper

25g smoked paprika

10g sage

10g rosemary

For the pork:

6 baby back pork ribs, membrane removed

BBQ sauce (homemade or good quality)



First, make the pork rub. There will be more than enough for 6 ribs, so the rest can be stored in a jar to use as you please. It makes a great seasoning for nuts; sprinkle over almonds and roast for a pre-dinner snack. We have been known to put this on French fries too!

Mix all the pork rub ingredients together in a large bowl, then shake out onto a tray to dry. We usually leave the rub for 4 hours above the cooker. Grind the dried mix into a powder – you can use a blender, food processor or pestle and mortar for this process.

Lightly oil the prepared ribs. Sprinkle a generous amount of the rub onto the ribs and massage into the meat. Leave to marinade for a couple of hours.

Place the ribs in a tray and cover with foil. Ensure the foil covering is well sealed, as the ribs need to slowly steam. Place in a low oven for 2-3 hours; the temperature should not be higher than 160°c. The ribs are cooked when the meat is relaxed to the touch, meaning that it barely holds together, and is falling off the bone.

Remove the ribs from the tray and glaze lightly with a BBQ sauce or maple glaze of your choice. Turn the oven up high to 200°c. Place the ribs on a flat, uncovered tray and pop them back into the oven for 10-15 minutes to allow the glaze to stick to the meat, then serve and tuck in!

Devon Cook Book Book cover

Grab yourself a copy of this brilliant book, £14.95  here.  And book a table at Harry’s pronto!

86 Longbrook Street, Exeter, EX4 6AP.  Tel: 01392 202234.

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