Mexican chilli ribs

Valentine Warner sets tastebuds tingling with this fiery yet finger-lickin way with juicy pork ribs
By Valentine Warner
Mexican chilli ribs
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes plus soaking and marinating
  • Effort: easy


  • 1 dried ancho chilli
  • 1 dried guajillo chilli
  • 1 pinch cumin seeds
  • 1 large pinch dried Mexican oregano
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 handful coriander stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • about 70 g tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp manzanilla sherry
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3-4 drops Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 rack meaty baby back pork ribs
  • ½ limes, juice only, plus 2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve
  • sunflower oil

For the marinated onions

  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch black peppercorns
  • 1 orange, juice only
  • 1 splash cider vinegar
  • 1 sprig marjoram, leaves picked

Tips and Suggestions

The marinated onions can also be served with beef or fish and are a popular Mexican accompaniment to tacos.


1. Rip open the ancho and guajillo chillies and remove the seeds. Toast them very lightly in a dry frying pan (if over done they taste bitter) then place in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for an hour.

2. Using a large pestle and mortar, grind the cumin, oregano, cloves, coriander stalks, garlic and bay leaf together with a little salt. Add the muscovado sugar and pound. Mix in the tomato purée, sherry and cider vinegar, some Worcestershire sauce, and about ¼-½ teaspoon black pepper.

3. Transfer the spice paste to a blender, add the chillies, their soaking water and some salt. Purée the mixture then pass it through a sieve to remove any hard bits of dried chilli. Squeeze in the lime juice.

4. Put the ribs into a wide pan or flameproof casserole dish and pour in the sauce. Cover with the lid or a sheet of foil and simmer for 1 hour, until cooked through.

5. For the marinated onions: Put the red onion, bay leaf and peppercorns in a small saucepan with water to cover and boil for 30 seconds. Drain.

6. In a bowl, mix the onions with the orange juice, lime juice, cider vinegar, marjoram and a pinch of salt. Marinate for 1-2 hours.

7. Preheat a barbecue. When the ribs are done, remove them from the sauce and cut into portions of two or three ribs this will help them blacken nicely. Add a drizzle of sunflower oil and put them on the barbecue. Cook for around 15 minutes, turning and basting the ribs regularly with the sauce.

8. Serve the barbecued ribs with the marinated onions, lime wedges and any extra sauce.

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