Masterchef BBQ Challenge: American-style Ribs

So yes, like the majority of Sydneysiders we’re back watching Masterchef. I’m enjoying it so far, although the kitchen never heats up – if you’ll pardon the pun – until we get through the preliminary knockout stages. As genuine as the competitors may be, I feel a bit resentful when the program tries to tug my heartstrings with why they deserve to win – reasons that have nothing to do with food. You know: I want to win because cooking reminds me of my Mum, or I want to open a cafe because my son is autistic and we can work in it together. Newsflash: people who don’t win Masterchef start cafes every year; it’s not a pre-requisite.  And we all fantasise about quitting our jobs to do something we love; that’s just not a good enough reason to win.  Just get to the  cooking will ya?!?!

Anyway, we had coincidentally decided to barbecue this weekend, and with the first episode of Masterchef featuring a barbecue challenge followed by a pavlova pressure test, I thought it would be fun to replicate their work and report the results.


Barbecued Ribs


Corn On The Cob

A solid, hearty menu for a crisp Autumn day I think.  The main course recipes (with all appropriate credit to both SBS and Victor Pisapia, who taught us the bbq rub, chipotle sauce, and coleslaw with a twist) follow after the jump, but I’ll add Donna Hay’s Pavlova recipe in a separate post.

Oh, and just a reminder – this recipe requires the coleslaw and the ribs to be marinaded overnight (no way could you do this in a real time-limited Masterchef challenge), so you’ll have to start this dish the day before.

American Barbecued Ribs

Dry spice rub

  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  1. Combine all ingredients – makes about 2/3 cup.

Chipotle BBQ sauce

  • 25g butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chilli, chopped
  • 400g tin tomato puree
  • 1 smoked chipotle chilli (available from the wonderful Herbies)
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup Tabasco
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  1. Sautee onions and jalapeños add to a blender with tomato puree, smoked chipotle chilli, molasses, sugar and garlic.
  2. Blend the sauce and return to pan over medium heat.
  3. Add vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and tomato paste.
  4. Simmer till reduced and quite thick (We allow hours for this, to really let the flavours develop … but if you go too far  you can always add a little water).


  • 4 racks pork baby back ribs (about 3-4 kilos)
  • 2-3 tbsp favourite rib rub (see above)
  • 3 cups BBQ sauce
  • 1-2 bottle of dark beer
  1. Rub the ribs on both sides with the spice rub.

      2.   Place in a large sealable bag placed in a large roasting pan.

      3.   Cover with beer and seal; marinate in the fridge overnight.

      4.   Remove the ribs from the bag and bring to room temperature.

      5.   Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

      6.   Line a large baking sheet with aluminium foil and remove ribs from marinade.

      7.   Lay ribs on top, and tightly cover with foil. Roast for two hours

      9.   Preheat the grill to medium heat. Remove Ribs from oven and uncover.

      10.   Place the ribs onto the hot barbeque grill, brush ribs with sauce so that it caramelises onto the ribs.

      11.   Cook over heat for 6-8 minutes on each side. Remove from BBQ and serve with marinaded slaw, corn from the barbecue and potato salad, with additional BBQ sauce on the side.

      Marinated coleslaw

      • ½ head of white cabbage, cored & sliced very thinly
      • ½ head of red cabbage, cored & sliced very thinly
      • 1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced very thinly
      • 1 cup white wine vinegar
      • ¾ cup vegetable oil
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 tbsp salt
      • 1½ tbsp dry mustard
      • 1 tbsp celery seed
      • ½ cup chicken stock

      1. In a stainless steel mixing bowl, layer the sliced cabbage and onion.
      2. In a 2 litre saucepan, combine the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, dry mustard, celery seed, and chicken stock and bring to a boil.
      3. Pour the hot liquid over the cabbage and onion but do not mix.
      4. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and marinate for 6 -8 hours or overnight in the fridge.
      5. Toss before serving.

      Cooks notes:

      • The dry spice rub can be stored in an airtight container for one month
      • The cabbage slaw can be made several days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.

      ~ by swalloworspit on April 25, 2010.

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