‘Spanish’ Ribs with Padron Peppers

Spanish ribs and padron peppers

Well, it’s been a few weeks but Helen and I are still banging on about Barcelona. It really was a superb city – every street was a piece of art.

The harbour in Barcelona

Armed with Mad Dog’s recommendations and a link to this website we found some great places to sit, eat and drink in between wandering around the place.

Salamanca near the harbour.

Salamanca, near the harbour.

It was also my first introduction to the tapas bar. They ranged in quality when we strayed from the the aforementioned lists but some of it was excellent. There was one in particular that we visited a couple of times in the Gothic Quarter. It was manically busy and cramped but great fun. Quite how the owner (we presumed) managed to keep track of all the plates flying out was anyone’s guess. Maybe he didn’t? I’ll try and get the name of the place.

It’s a great way to eat: you sight-see, you sit, you eat a little, you have a drink and repeat. No bloating three course dinners making you feel like a nap – people still do though of course.


Cerveceria Catalana – great bar and tapas. Sorry for the focus issue, many cervezas had no doubt been consumed.

Slicing serrano ham

So we’ve had a few tapas style dinners since but this dish is more an inspiration born from some of the flavours we had. Pork and tortilla are ubiquitous of course, but I also really liked these small padron  peppers. I managed to find the delicious little suckers in a certain UK higher-end supermarket. Unfortunately they were also at a higher-end price…

fThe ribs were cooked the night before and literally fell off the bone. Seriously, I know that’s generally BBQ nirvana, but when they’re sticking to the grill and falling apart in your hand the novelty wears off a little. The were slow cooked in a mixture of tomato, stock and orange and paprika, which I then kept, reduced and blended to make a superb sauce.

Definitely one to try. May I also add, the plates were not my idea.

For the ribs:

  • 8-10 ribs if you’re hungry
  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • 1/2-1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 500ml chicken or pork stock.
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 good pinches of sea salt (and more to taste).
  • Black Pepper

For the tortilla:

  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 2 new potatoes, sliced thinly
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • A pinch of smoked paprika
  • A good pitch of salt
  • Ac couple of handfuls of Manchego cheese
  • Olive oil

For the peppers:

  • 20 or so padron peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • The night before:

Preheat the oven to 140°C/280°F

Add all the rib ingredients to a hob proof pot and bring to a simmer. I added in half of the juiced orange to add a little more flavour.


Ribs in a tomato and orange sauce

Put it in the oven for 2 hours. Check it with an hour to go to make sure it hasn’t dried out, but it should be OK with a lid on.

I tend to just turn the oven off and go to bed, letting it sit in the sauce until I need it the next day. You may want to put it in the fridge once cooled in the morning.

If you do put it in the fridge, just heat the pan contents through a little on the hob before you try and take the ribs out or they stick firmly. They are pretty fragile.

Remove the ribs and put them on a plate. Blend the sauce thoroughly (again you may need to heat it slightly first) and bring to a simmer. Let it reduce if too watery or add a little more stock if too dry to blend.

Orange and tomato BBQ sauce

For the tortilla, simmer the potato sliced briefly and drain. In a frying pan, fry the onion, and green peppers to soften. Add the potatoes, egg and paprika. Cook the base then add the cheese and grill/broil to finish it off. Keep warm.

I feel like I should dedicate this shot to Conor...

I feel like I should dedicate this shot to Conor…

Put the ribs on BBQ if you can. I have a gas one with some lava rocks in that does a decent jobs of replicating the charcoal Webber. Other wise you can put them in a hot oven to sear. Cook them until coloured well.

BBQ ribs

Mean while, simply fry the peppers in a little oil and season with sea salt.


Padron peppers

That’s it. Delicious.



22 thoughts on “‘Spanish’ Ribs with Padron Peppers

  1. You made me feel at home, although I’ve been eating sous vide ribs with some Barcelona friends tonight, in Golders Green.
    I feel I have to say something here. Tapas are not a Catalan thing and tapas bars in Barcelona have only appeared in the last 20 years. Tapas originated in Andalucia, where they are free and served as an inducement to get patrons to drink more or order a full meal. Tapas are a snack while you are drinking at a bar, before you have dinner.
    I always flip tortillas and would not cook one under the grill or in the oven. The taste and texture is very different. I have never had a tortilla made with cheese.

  2. Hi MD, glad I could help! Cheers for the tortilla tip – I’ll give that a go. I hadn’t realised tapas was such a recent thing in Barcelona. I also assumed there would be a lot more ‘free’ tapas in the bars; but we found a couple away from the hardcore tourist areas. Either way there were some great little combinations being served up. I’m sure we just scratched the surface though and I’m definitely going to investigate the coastal Catalan food when I get time. ‘I’ll be back’ as a wise man once said.

    • Sorry if it sounded like I was giving you a lecture, I drank a few rosados yesterday.
      Tortilla de patatas is the national dish of Spain and never having had it before arriving in Barcelona in 1991, I spent 6 months watching people cook (and pestering them with lots of questions) in order to find the perfect recipe. In reality you can put anything you like in a tortilla, though spinach or bacalao can be tricky to flip. Some people do put tortillas under the grill or in the oven to make them set. However, Spain has a long tradition of hearth and outdoor cooking, plus a lot of homes don’t have ovens, especially in Barrio Gotico. When people moved from wood or coal fired stoves to gas, a lot of them just stuck a double ring calor gas burner on top of the old stove, hence flipping the tortilla being a necessity.
      If you are interested in Catalan cooking, the best book I’ve come across is this one: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Catalan-Cuisine-Revised-Edition-Mediterranean/dp/1558323295

      • Not at all MD, we all been there 😉 I must admit the tortilla wasn’t my finest hour, hence relegating it from the title so all feedback gratefully received. Thanks for the link too, I see some reasonably priced copies going there. I’ll have to invest in a copy.

      • Thanks Phil. I hope you like the book – apparently it’s been rated in the top 50 all time best cook books!
        There’s a step by step tortilla recipe on my blog – the important thing is getting the pan very hot, shaking it to stop the egg sticking and using a generous amount of olive oil. I taught my self with a non stick egg poaching pan – they have high sides and are very easy to flip. My record number of eggs is 28, but I think anything larger would be almost impossible to lift and flip. I’m sure the giant ones seen in Spanish bars with layers of different vegetables must be baked and probably the layers are added in stages…

      • It’s on order now MD….I like the baked in additional layers idea – I’ve wondered how they make them so thick and yet not over cook the exposed top. Maybe thats it…..

      • I think they have to do the huge ones like that because if you cook the whole thing in the oven for a long time it tends to go tough and otherwise it would be very hard to get those perfect layers of individual vegetables.

  3. If I ever return to Spain, I plan to contact MD as soon a my plane reservations are set. The Man knows Spain, no doubt about it. Your ribs sounds fantastic. Love the idea of a sauce with a hint of orange. I gotta try this!

    • I can recommend that John! Thanks for that – I must admit, I enjoyed the ribs. The orange gave it nice twist without overwhelming. I also loved the padron peppers though, I could eat them by the bucket-load.

  4. A great cool post from abroad! Yeahh! I love tapas bars too & yes, there is a big difference in a lot of them! The prizes vary enormously too! 🙂 A lovely post,…tasty too!

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