Seabird’s Sorghum Pork Ribs

Sorghum ribs from Seabird in Wilmington
Recipe from Dean Neff of Seabird in Wilmington, North Carolina | Photography courtesy of Doug Young

The pork ribs recipe at Seabird in Wilmington is all about the sauce. Unlike other ribs recipes, these pork ribs focus on cooking the meat to perfection and incorporating the perfect combination of flavors. We love stocking our pantry with lots of different chilis. When blending chilis, make sure to balance your blend with varying levels of heat, always keeping in mind how hot cayenne is while blending lots of less spicy chilis like ancho, urfa, aleppo, and smoked paprika which can build dimension in flavor (especially when toasting them properly).

In this recipe, we char the ribs with high heat before slow cooking (while they are covered) to adhere the rub to the ribs. The slow cooking with moist heat while covered is how the ribs become very tender. We chill the ribs before cutting to get a beautiful cut/edge on the meat. Charring on the grill while brushing with the lacquer adds the needed sweetness and spice from the star anise while charring/flavoring the sorghum with the applewood smoke. 

recipe heading-plus-icon


Serves 4 – 6

    The Rib Rub
  • 6 tablespoons dried ancho chili powder
  • 6 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
  • 3 tablespoon aleppo or urfa chili
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • For the Sorghum Lacquer
  • 1 cup Muddy Pond sorghum
  • ½ cup hot sauce
  • 3 pods star anise
  • 1 teaspoon whole pink peppercorns (optional)

  • Ribs
  • 2 whole racks of baby back ribs, back membrane removed
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  1. Make the Rub: In a small bowl, combine all rub ingredients.
  2. Make the Lacquer: In a small saucepan over low heat, add sorghum, hot sauce, star anise, and peppercorns and bring to a simmer. Stir until sorghum and hot sauce are incorporated.
  3. Prepare Ribs: Rub generous amount of rib rub over all surfaces of the ribs. Place both racks in a large sheet tray, and bake at 450 degrees until the spices in are toasted, about 15 minutes. Remove ribs and lower heat to 300 degrees.
  4. Transfer ribs to a pan with shallow sides, and add the cider vinegar with 1 cup water. Tightly cover pan with parchment and foil, and return ribs to oven. Cook for 3-4 hours or until meat is fork tender. If ribs spring back when bent, re-cover, and continue to cook until tender.
  5. Let ribs cool to room temperature and chill in the fridge. Once fully cold, cut the ribs into 1-2 bone planks
  6. Heat grill to medium-low. Brush the ribs with lacquer and place on grill. Heat and char but don’t allow ribs to burn. Remove from grill, and brush with more lacquer before serving.
  • Created by Dean Neff of Seabird, Wilmington, North Carolina
Featured Articles

Related Recipes


Maple Bourbon Ribs

Ribs glazed in maple syrup and bourbon. The smell of roasting sweet potatoes and [...]

Leave a Reply

Be the first to comment.

The Wine Lover Issue


1 year for only $24.99

1 year
for only $24.99

Subscribe and Save 72%!

Suscribe Now
The Travel Issue