Mocha chilli ribs

For racy ribs, Laura Santtini combines a taste of the Wild West with Italian coffee and balsamic vinegar
Mocha chilli ribs
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 10 as a canapé, 2-4 as a main
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes plus drying time
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes plus marinating time
  • Effort: easy


For the chocolate chilli stardust

  • 2 long strips pared orange zest
  • 15 g 100% pure cacao
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp Mexican cocoa powder
  • 1 pinches flakes edible gold leaf

For the marinated ribs

  • 125 ml strong-brewed espresso coffee
  • 125 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 125 ml runny honey
  • 250 ml tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp grated 100% cocoa solids chocolate
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 kg pork spare ribs

Tips and Suggestions

Edible gold and silver are sold in various forms: dust, flakes and leaf. Be sure that your product has been approved for food use by checking the certification when you buy it. Both edible gold and silver are recognized in Europe as food colourings and are used extensively in the liqueur and confectionery industries. Always use them sparingly as they are not recommended for daily use: read labels, warnings and directions on the packaging before use.


1. For the chocolate chilli stardust: this can be made well in advance of using, but needs to be done at least the night before serving. Turn the oven to its lowest setting, about 100C/gas ¼. Put the orange zest on a small baking tray and leave to dry for several hours, until crisp but not burned. Transfer to a small processor or grinder and blend with the chocolate, chilli flakes and Mexican cacao powder. Transfer the mixture to a jar.

2. For the marinated ribs: this is preferably done the night before serving. Mix all the ingredients, except the ribs, together in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Turn the heat right down and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little, then blend until smooth.

3. When the marinade has cooled completely, place the ribs in a shallow dish, add the marinade and make sure each rib is well coated. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least a couple of hours and ideally overnight, turning occasionally to make sure all the flavours sink in.

4. Bring the ribs back to room temperature before cooking. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and spread the ribs across a shallow roasting tray, keeping back any surplus marinade. Roast for 30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, put the leftover marinade in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

6. When the ribs are browned, sizzling and cooked right through, remove from the oven and drain any fat from the pan. Pour the hot marinade over the ribs and mix well. Return to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes. If at any time the ribs look as though they are bruning, cover with foil but remember to give them a final blast uncovered, otherwise they will be soggy and not finger-lickin'.

7. Test that the ribs are cooked right through to the bone - there should be no pink meat. Cut the racks into individual ribs if necessary and serve on a platter sprinkled with the chocolate chilli stardust and a pinch of gold leaf flakes.

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