Of Hard Chairs and Barbecues – Ancho Chilli and Honey Pork Ribs.

Ancho honey ribs I’m a considerate sort of person. If I’m having a vegetarian over for dinner, I will restrict the number of animals that we slaughter and serve. If there are a group of ‘lads’ I will throw lots of chilli heat into everything and serve gallons of beer, by the neck, so we can behave like teenagers and pretend that our middle-aged stomachs are not in turmoil. If my beloved Mum is coming to our regular Sunday dinner, I tend to respect her desire for moderate heat in everything. Like I say, I’m a considerate kind of guy. I employed such deference last weekend when preparing Ancho Chilli and Honey Pork Ribs. But, it seems, I can’t get everything right.

On Sunday afternoon, my sister rang, from Norway, for a chat. During the call, she mentioned to me that Mum has, of late, found our hard-wood kitchen chairs a deal (pun intended) uncomfortable. She suggested that we might improve Mum’s experience by providing a cushion. I decided that we could go one better and replace Mum’s chair with one of our rarely used dining-room chairs (with padded back and seat). But, why had she not said anything to me?

Now, getting back to the ribs….


  • Eight to ten big, free range, pork ribs.
  • 4 dried ancho chilis
  • 2 medium hot dried New Mexico chilis
  • About 150 grammes of honey
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
The chilis are not all that hot, if you remove the seeds. You're on your own if you don't .

The chilis are not all that hot, if you remove the seeds. You’re on your own if you don’t .

First, remove the seeds from the chilis (considerate or what?). Then place the chilis in a bowl and add about a quarter litre of hot water. Leave them there for about 20 minutes.

The Ancho chilis have a lovely smoke flavour. Not a lot of heat.

The Ancho chilis have a lovely smokey flavour. Not a lot of heat.

Place the fennel seeds in a hot dry pan and fry them until they are a nice dark brown.

When you have nice copper pans, take lots of photos!

When you have nice copper pans, take lots of photos!

Give them a good going over in the mortar, reducing them to dust. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the pork ribs. Give them about 15 minutes.

This ensures the ribs cook before burning on the barbecue. It's a good idea.

This ensures the ribs cook before burning on the barbecue. It’s a good idea.

Then drain them. Place them in a dish or bowl. Add the chilis with their water, honey and fennel into a blender. Blend to a paste.

The chilis fennel and honey make a delicious sweet, smokey mixture.

The chilis fennel and honey make a delicious sweet, smokey mixture.

Pour the paste over the pork ribs. Leave them there for a couple of hours.

Plenty of flavour in that sauce. None of it goes to waste.

Plenty of flavour in that sauce. None of it goes to waste.

Warm the barbecue. Turn it down to low and add the ribs. Grill until cooked. In the meantime, pour the sauce into a pot and bring it to a boil. Let it thicken. Season to taste and serve it with the ribs.

Look at the colour of that sauce! It smells even nicer and tastes wonderful.

Look at the colour of that sauce! It smelled even nicer and tasted wonderful.

It has a delicious, mild, smokey flavour that really works well.

Tasty, smokey, mild and delicious. Top ribs and delicious dipping sauce.

Tasty, smokey, mild and delicious. Top ribs and delicious dipping sauce.

With Mum happy in her new chair, and while we ate the ribs, I couldn’t help myself. I had to know about the discomfort she had been feeling. I wanted to know why Mum had not said anything directly to me. So, I probed… “Anna rang today. She mentioned you were feeling a bit uncomfortable with the chair. How long had it been bothering you?” She looked up, smiled distantly and replied “Oh, yes, the chair…. For years actually.” Wonderful woman our Mum.

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Latest comments
  • Those look good. I’m just making some ribs with a rather pedestrian glaze.

  • They do look very good – succulent and crunchy 🙂

    • Thanks MD. They were both, thanks be to goodness.

  • Outstanding fare, as always. And you don’t know how badly I needed a pour shot this morning. Hope all is well.

  • Four simple ingredients and a relatively easy technique: one just has to have the imagination! Can’t wait to try this as have not had fennel seeds and chillies together . . . greetings from Down Under . . . hope the Irish weather has been kind enough to get on the bike . . .

    • I’ll be back out on it this weekend – no matter what the weather is planning!

  • These look just beautiful!
    And Irish Mammies, eh? 🙂

  • Those blanched ribs remind me of Celts or Anglo-Saxons on the first day of their summer holiday… Afterwards, of course, they’ve clearly spent far too much time with the Ambre Solaire… Delicious smokey recipe. And as for your Mum, she’s clearly of a different ilk from my Ma, who’d make sure you knew she was suffering, and then tell you she was offering it up, so you couldn’t do anything about it!

    • On one teenage holiday, I remember a Spanish chap telling us that we looked like a collection of milk bottles. I have never got over that.

      • Bring on the marinade, I say! Living where I do, it’s less of a problem, of course…

        • We have an expression here, “farmer’s tan”. Brown / bright red arms from half way down the guns combined with a red neck and head. Everything else milk white.

          • Similar here, except the brown starts below the hat brim, and he wears white ‘shorts’ and ‘socks’, and it’s always nut brown, never red…

  • Just discovered this webpage. Sounds like a delicious recipe! Might give the sauce and ribs a go on the Weber Smokey Mountain this weekend!, that is if the sun stays out in Cork!

    • Think positive thoughts Conor. I never let the weather interfere with my BBQ plans. It only means that we have to eat indoors if it’s belting it down. Cook outside regardless. It’s the only way in this country.
      Thanks for the visit and the kind comments,

  • Those do look very good and that’s a much quicker technique than the one I’ve just been using. And let’s hear it for long-suffering and silent mothers! Bless.

    • The par-cooking really helps Linda. Mum is not silent on every subject. She is not afraid to share her thoughts!

  • Nicely done Conor, as always, and glad to see you’re still getting some use out of the chiles. I love the color of the ribs and char from the grill. I bet they were supremely tasty. Have you ever tried a little orange with your barbecue sauce? It goes remarkably well with the chiles.

    • Hi Richard,
      That’s the very last of yours and some gifted by eldest’s boyfriend. The orange is a lovely thought. Once, a long time ago, I had orange and chilli beef fillet in an upscale Chinese (as upscale as they got back then). I remember it as being delicious. I must try to recreate it.

      • If you were going to add orange to this sauce, which I think sounds delicious, would you add it in the form of juice, syrup, zest, and/or/other?

        • Lisa, I use the juice and the zest, julienned. The juice adds flavor, sweetness and acid. The zest adds depth of flavor.

  • You’re so funny! Love your ribs. I’m intrigued about the fennel.

    • The whole effect was very smokey and earthy. It worked nicely.

  • These look amazing Conor! How long do you BBQ the ribs for? I want to try this one too! ^..^

    • Lowest setting on the gas and about 20 minutes. Delicious.

  • Mums are funny things. They will suffer in silence! 🙂

    • Not every one Virginia. Some can be pretty vocal. I’m just lucky! (Mum, are you reading this?)

  • Wow! Most mom’s are complainers…lol!
    The ribs look wonderful! You got me started with those chilies. I’m having a craving now!

    p.s. According to my husband, low indirect heat can eliminate the boiling step. 😉

    • I like doing them this way Debbie. They don’t take too long and they end up very succulent. I hate when they dry out in an effort to cook them correctly.

      • Yes, I can understand that. Many people do. Personal preference. Dry meat isn’t even good enough for a vulture!

  • You’ve got me wondering how many comments will you get with regard to boiling those beautiful ribs first ;). Ahh, but they do look lovely. Were those boneless? When they are, we call them country style, but I’m not sure how that translates. I like your sauce idea.

    • They were a mixture of bone and no bone, so let’s call it “Town and Country”. The boiling really makes them far easier to grill and they lose little or no flavour in the process.

  • Dear good lord those ribs look so damn good… and I’m sure the new chair was damn good too 🙂
    Nice work Conor.

  • Nice ribs! I would cook them sous-vide, with the anchos and honey, before grilling. My mom would have said something sooner (i.e. one nanosecond after not liking the chair).

    • I seem to be getting off lightly on the chair front.

  • Wow this looks like a great recipe. Yum!

    • Thanks GG,
      It’s very simple and delicious.

  • Looking great

    • Thanks Mr F.
      They are easy to prepare and very tasty. The marinade can be used in burgers (as it was that day) too.

  • Now you’re wandering in my garden C-Bomb….great lookin’ ribs fella – never thought to boil them pre-BBQ. I usually dry rub, roast the BB – will have a bounce at this though

  • finger licking good!!!

    • Thanks Dedy. Not enough chilli heat for you, I’m afraid.

  • Great stuff as alway. Those look proper cuts ribs too. I make ribs the same way, I find it take on favour better too plus you can get a half decent stock out of the water with a bit more reduction. Winner!

    • Great thought on the stock Phil. I’m glad somebody is with me in this!

  • Conor, the guilt of an Irish son is a treasured thing. Some believe an Irish Mammy gets more out of guilt and contrition than they ever could from being comfortable. I’m not saying your most estimable mother is an example but nevertheless, don’t underestimate the power of your gift. I’m sure the ribs helped too.

    • Guilty Tara, yes. But, never that guilty. If I were, I would have become a Christian Brother or a priest or such like. You could guess the rest….

  • They look great. Where would you get those chillis in Dublin, do you know?

  • No time to read all the comments, but it’s rather comical your mum never said anything before about the chair. By the way, you CAN’T go wrong with pork marinated in ancho chiles. Great job! I can smell them from here!

  • We use fennel seeds and red chillies in Indian cooking too…..I should give this a try with mutton for we dont eat pork ……

    • I imagine it would be good with mutton too. If you try it, please let me know how it goes.

  • Conor – Thank you for allowing me to use your recipe on my site. Here is the link to my post:
    These were absolutely delicious! Thanks! ^..^

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