Monday, March 8, 2010

Super Easy Fool Proof Ribs

One of the biggest downsides to living in Northern Ohio is the extremely long winters. Given that Daryl's birthday is in early March, and one of his favorite foods is ribs, it's pretty difficult to deliver full satisfaction for that special birthday dinner (as ribs are most often the best prepared on the grill.) I've tried making ribs in the broiler before, and sometimes they turn out nice but other times not so nice.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across this wonderful recipe, that results in delicious juicy and tender ribs every time. I've never had a dry piece of meat come out of this recipe! Some would complain that it "isn't the same" as ribs on the grill, but the slow cook method really deserves a category all on it's own. The flavor is completely different then you would get from the grill or the broiler. And when you're still looking at months of winter, the grill seems awfully distant. Daryl's birthday was this week, and he asked me to make this for his dinner. I was all for this, because truth be told, it's one of the easiest recipes I have in my book as well as one of the tastiest. I took a half hour before bed the night before Daryl's birthday to prepare the meat, then in the morning I simply plugged in the crockpot and went to run my errands. By the time that the family and company had gathered, we had perfectly cooked ribs. The measurements below are really approximate. Depending on how many people you want to feed, or the size of your crock pot, or your personal tastes, it is really easy to adjust this recipe by adding more or less of something. This is about what I used for Daryl's birthday dinner.

Crockpot Ribs:
5 lbs pork loin back ribs
2 cans dr. pepper (or any cola- I happened to have dr. pepper on hand)
2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
Barbecue sauce of your choice (here is a good recipe, but bottled will work)

Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper. Place the ribs into the crock pot. You might need to cleverly arrange them so that they'll fit while raw. Keep in mind that the lid needs to be able to cover the crock. You might need to cut the slab into smaller pieces. I had one 2.5 lb slab that remained whole and folded over in the crock, and one that I had to cut in half.
Chop the onion into large chunks and sprinkle throughout the crock. It doesn't make a huge difference where they land, but you don't want all of your onions in one place. Coarsely chop the garlic and sprinkle it into the crock as well.

Pour the soda over the ribs. Add water until the liquid level is pretty close to the top, but not all the way. Add the brown sugar. Give everything a good mix, so that there aren't any dry ingredients just sitting in one place (this could even be just turning a piece of rib over)

If you are preparing the meat a night in advance, place the lid over the crock and place into the fridge. In the morning, place the crock into the crock pot heater (I guess it's what that is called!) and cook on high for 9 hours. Drain the liquids and pour some barbecue sauce into the crock pot, making sure to coat each rib (you might use a basting brush for this job!) continue to cook on low for about half an hour to an hour. Serve the ribs with extra sauce.Don't expect to eat these ribs as you would eat ribs off the grill. The meat is so tender that it will fall off the bone as you are serving it (as you see in the picture) so you'll certainly need a fork. Any leftovers that you have can be turned into pulled pork sandwiches!

This is a really basic recipe that you can certainly experiment with. I've added Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, molasses, honey, and all sorts of other rib-smacking good ingredients into the initial cooking liquids. I've also seen similar recipes that call for cayenne or chipotle pepper, and some have liquid smoke added as well. It all depends on what your taste is and what you have in the kitchen. I've found that no matter what variety of the recipe I've used, this is always the end result:

That's one satisfied carnivore!
Happy birthday, my sweet Daryl!

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