Thursday, November 20, 2008

Maiden Voyage of the Slow Cooker: Hoisin Garlic Ribs

Picture from Crate and Barrel


My fiancé Matt is quite good with presents. When we first started dating, he gave me a weekend subscription to the New York Times, which saved me a painful pre-coffee trip to the newsstand and suggested to me that he might be interested in sticking around for a few more weekends. My parents were totally impressed (perhaps that was the real goal.)

Since I've gotten more interested (obsessed) with recipes that involve lowww and slow cooking, I may have mentioned once or twice that a slow cooker would be a worthy addition to our kitchen. Also, my friends Laura and Adam made an AMAZING brisket in their slow cooker that I just might have praised a few times. Matt knows how to take a hint, and since my birthday we've had a slow cooker on our counter just waiting to be tested.

While I love my dutch oven and will continue to use it frequently, I don't love leaving the oven on for eight or twelve hours at a time. And I don't love being stuck in the house for that time, either. I've noticed that slow-cooker recipes online are somewhat limited to Sandra Lee-style easy recipes, but I think the electric slow cooker absolutely has a place in the serious gourmet kitchen.

For her maiden voyage, I rubbed St. Louis style ribs (sawed in half by the butcher at Whole Foods) with garlic, ginger, and ground sichuan peppercorns. After a bit of marinating (but no browning), I threw them in the slow cooker with three sliced onions and about two cups of liquid (sake, beer, hoisin, sriracha, fresh orange juice, honey, soy sauce.) The ribs cooked for about 12 hours on low while I slept. It was a little weird waking up to the smell of garlicky chinese food, but amazing to literally have dinner cook on its own. No stirring, no worrying. I refrigerated the ribs in a baking pan with the liquid and skimmed the fat when I got home. After a bit of covered reheating in the oven, I brushed the ribs with a mixture of hoisin, sriracha, honey, and orange juice to sweeten them up a bit. After glazing, we crisped each side in a hotter oven for about 10 minutes.

And they were pretty incredible. The meat fell from the bones into our mouths—you couldn't really nibble. The meat was falling apart, the bones were falling apart, and the taste was rich and intense, balanced with the sweet and spicy glaze. We had planned to finish watching a movie while we ate, but these ribs were so good we couldn't concentrate on anything else. Plus, it's hard to read subtitles while you're licking your plate.

4 comments:

Juree said...

Maggie,

I keep meaning to buy a slow cooker, maybe this is the one I should get. I agree that most of the slow cookers online are not all tempting, but this sounds amazing. I am going to send the link to my brother-- he loves asian style ribs, and really doesn't sriracha sauce make everything better?

Lo said...

Ah. I might have to keep this model in mind. I haven't adventured into slow cooker territory much; but, the description of these ribs sounds pretty darned good to me!

maggie said...

I looked at a few other models and all have some amount of mixed reviews. You can't brown in the vessel on teh stovetop, but I've read that the ones that do allow it aren't that good otherwise. Supposed to be careful with shocking the hot vessel by placing it on cold surfaces, that could crack it. And apparently the High temperature is quite warm, so you have to watch that. So far, so good, though.

For further research:
http://tinyurl.com/5v55bz

http://tinyurl.com/5n4o8b

Krissa said...

I love my slow cooker; I've only made a few things in it so far but everything has been amazing. Particularly this recipe:
http://tinyurl.com/55bj5u

My adaptation is that I do make it with a bone-in turkey breast (or, breast-plate or whatever) and I leave the skin on, and also, I brown it in a big dutch oven first. This dish is so unbelievably easy and tasty, and I've made it with a small roaster chicken as well, and it was just as good!