When the hubby and I first started dating (in our twenties! IN. OUR. TWENTIES.), I wooed him the only way I really know how to: through cooking. During that eyelash-batting phase, I assumed that he was like every other red-blooded American male I’d ever met – a meat eating, beer swilling type who ate vegetables as accessories to the “real” dinner. Imagine my shock – quelle horreur – when I discovered that the hubby didn’t eat his first steak until college, and upon our meeting, had never eaten pork ribs.
I immediately rectified the situation by dry-rubbing some beautiful baby backs and slow-roasting them in a boubon-apple marinade that turned into a glaze when finished on the grill. I can still remember the utter bliss of watching a man eat his first rack of ribs. It’s a pretty satisfying feeling.
Now, years later, it’s not often that I have 2-3 hours of uninterrupted kitchen time. Take, for instance, earlier tonight. We’re deliberately delaying dinner by thirty whole minutes in an attempt to try to adjust our kids’ schedules a bit. I honestly have no idea if it’s going to work or if we’re just going to be able to add this to our ever-growing laundry list of parenting fails. Either way, right now it means that both kids are hopping up and down trying to get me to feed them RIGHT NOW while I’m rushing around the kitchen trying to throw together anything, anything that might seem to make sense for dinner.
That’s why these ribs are so brilliant – just set them into a quick marinade, set the slow cooker for 8 hours, and wait for magic to happen. I swear, every time I make these, it’s like seeing the hubby way back when, crushing on me while I’m crushing on him, and we’re just both giddy as schoolgirls.
Or it can just be a really easy weeknight meal for you. I mean, whatever.
Recipe follows, after the jump.
- 2 racks of baby back pork ribs, membranes removed, cut into serving-size pieces*
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar (for a truly Asian-style caramelization, use 2-3 chunks of rock sugar)
- ⅓ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1.5 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Combine brown sugar (or rock sugar, if using), soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
- Place cut, trimmed ribs into slow cooker.
- Pour mixture over ribs and cook on low for 8-9 hours until meat is tender and falling off the bone.
- Remove ribs from slow cooker and place on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Skim fat from juices remaining in the slow cooker and transfer juices to a small saucepan.
- Put cornstarch in a small bowl and add around ¼ cup of the juices from the slow cooker, whisking to combine with the cornstarch.
- Pour cornstarch mixture back into saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until mixture thickens slightly.
- Pour over ribs and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
- If you've never made ribs before, it's really important to trim your baby back ribs as directed here. I've made and eaten ribs without performing this essential step, and the flavor and tenderness difference is astounding. Trim your ribs, people. Trim your ribs.