Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Ribs
I’ve never really use a “crock pot” that often, but these ribs make it worth dragging it out of the basement. They literally fall of the bone and the sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and savory. They are quick to throw together but take a few hours to cook, so start them early. America's Test Kitchen suggests standing the ribs in the crock. Simply halve each rack of ribs and stand the pieces up in a ring around the outside of the slow-cooker insert, where the heating coils are. Their technique results in perfectly cooked ribs with concentrated meaty flavor and even allows the ribs to brown a little right against the heat source.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces apricot or peach jam
6 ounces frozen pineapple concentrate
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup rice vinegar plus 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
4 lbs baby back ribs (2 pieces)
salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Place the onion, pepper, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, about 8 pulses.
2. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable mixture and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is softened and slightly brown, about 7 minutes.
3. Stir in the jam, frozen juice, soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 cup vinegar, lime zest, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
4. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Stand upright in the slow cooker, winding them around in a spiral, meaty side toward the wall of the cooker. Pour the sauce over the ribs.
5. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours until tender.
6. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.
7. Let the cooking liquid settle 5 minutes and pour off the fat. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium pot. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook down until it measures about 1 ½ cups, about 5-10 minutes. Whisk the cornstarch and the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into pot. Cook until the sauce is glossy and thickened, about 2 minutes.
8. Stir the remaining tablespoon of vinegar into the sauce and correct the seasoning. Slice the ribs between the bones and toss with the sauce.
9. Serve on a platter garnished with cilantro.