Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Five Spice Slow Cooker Pork Ribs

On my trip to the grocery store this past weekend, somehow, these pork spare ribs made their way into my cart.
"Fresh"?!? and a "Manager's Special," how could I leave these at the store?
I truly do need supervision at the grocery store.  When I got home, I looked through a few cookbooks and searched the internet and decided upon  this recipe from Melissa Joulwan's blog, The Clothes Make the Girl.  Melissa has a great cookbook, Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, that I highly recommend.

If you are in the Austin, Texas area, Melissa will be teaching 2 classes at Whole Foods Market Culinary Center: a Paleo 101 class in October and a Thanksgiving Dinner class in November.  I've registered for the Thanksgiving Dinner class and cannot wait to see her in action!

First, I gathered my ingredients.  The reason I chose this recipe is that I thought, for some reason, I thought I had a jar of Chinese five spice that I'd never used in the pantry, but I did not, so I had to head back to the grocery store.  Drat!

Chinese 5 spice is a blend of 5 spices.  If you look around on the internet, the 5 spices used aren't always consistent and sometimes there are more than 5 spices, go figure.  The blend I used contained the following: Cinnamon, Fennel Seeds, Anise Seed, and Black Peppercorns.

The first step for prepping these ribs says to put them on a cutting board to spread the spices over them.  I decided to use a baking sheet instead of a cutting board.  The edges of the baking sheet better contained the spices as I sprinkled them on the pork and enabled me to waste less and make less mess.  I cut a few of the pieces of pork in half for easier handling.  

Then I sprinkled the spices on the meat.  She doesn't provide a measure for the Chinese five spice powder, garlic powder or pepper.  I should have measured what I used, but basically put enough on so that the meat is covered.  I used about half of a 1.23 ounce jar of the Chinese five spice powder.

Then, I rubbed the spices into the meat.  I spiced both sides.  The recipe didn't say whether or not to do both sides or not, so I figured it was better to cover all of the meat.  As this is going in the crock pot, it probably doesn't matter as it will all be on top of each other.  

Spices rubbed in on both sides.
Here is my baking sheet once I took the ribs out.  Using the baking sheet really enabled me to use pretty much all of the spice that was sprinkled.

No spice wasted here!
I put the coconut aminos and rice wine vinegar into the crock pot and piled the ribs on top.  

I set the crock pot for 6 hours on high.  When I do crock pot recipes, for some reason I have it in my mind that if there is an option between cooking on high or low, using the low setting is better.  I got these ribs in the crock pot at mid day, and as I was going to have these for dinner, I decided to live on the wild side and use the high setting.

After 6 hours, this is what I had.

Interesting!  How will these taste?
I tried to take a pretty picture of the ribs, but as the meat fell off the bone upon touch, that was impossible.

Here is my plate.  I served the now boneless ribs on some spaghetti squash.

Cost and Accessibility of Ingredients:  You should be able to find all of the ingredients for this recipe at your big box store.  The 4 pounds of ribs I bought at Sprouts Market cost just under $12.  The Chinese five spice powder will vary in cost depending on what brand you buy.  I couldn't find my receipt for this but I don't think it was over $5.

Prep/Cooking Time:  The spicing of the ribs took about 10 minutes.  The cook time was 6 hours.  I did not make the dipping sauce she suggests, so I can't say how long that would take.  

Clean up:  Everything I used went into the dishwasher.  Bliss.

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!*  When I took these ribs out of the crock pot, I decided to try one immediately before plating it properly, and the flavor was overwhelming to me.  The ribs were incredibly tender and juicy, but there was something I just didn't like about the flavor.  I think it was the Anise, a licorice flavor, that was off-putting to me. "Oh no", I thought, "I've got 4 pounds of this."  I went ahead and made my dinner plate.  Of course, if you like Anise flavor, this won't be an issue for you.

I'm glad I did, as something changed when I ate the meat with the squash.  I think the spaghetti squash mellowed the flavors a bit for me and in fact, made the meat taste somewhat buttery.  Yum.

The next time I make this, I'll experiment by using less five spice powder and maybe more garlic powder.

I put the majority of these ribs in portions and froze them.   I defrosted some for dinner tonight, and they were quite tasty.  I'm always looking for recipes that freeze well.

So get your crock pots ready, here's another dish to add to your recipe book!*

(*So long as I get to eat them with spaghetti squash.)

News Flash #1:  I've updated my Kombucha Bottling post after bottling my second batch yesterday.  Take a look!