Saturday, September 15, 2012

Slow-Cooker Ribs and Sweet Potatoes with Maple Glaze

Photo: Peter Lee

This is the first weekend that autumn’s approach has felt like more than a theoretical possibility–there’s no chill in the air, by any means, but the sun is lower in the sky and the leaves on our Bradford pear tree have started to yellow.  At the grocery store yesterday, the air conditioning seemed positively unnecessary–in fact, I finished my shopping more quickly than usual because I was actually cold.  I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I felt anything close to cold.

Maybe that’s why, while I was shopping yesterday and planning the weekend meals, my mind turned to Slow-Cooker Ribs and Sweet Potatoes.  I was in the mood for something warm and hearty, and this recipe certainly fits that description.

Like most slow-cooker recipes, this one is easy as can be:  layer the ingredients into the slow cooker, turn it to Low, and give it the rest of the day to turn into a delicious dinner.  Ribs need time to tenderize, so it’s best if you can give this recipe 6 to 7 hours of cooking time.  The acid from the apple juice and applesauce does a terrific job of breaking down the otherwise tough meat, and the maple syrup adds a layer of complexity to the sweetness.  (Be sure to use real maple syrup; it’s pricey, but if you use it only for cooking and flavoring purposes–not as a pancake topping–a bottle will last you awhile.)  If you don’t have sweet potatoes on hand, carrots will work just as well.  In fact, any root vegetable will hold up against the prolonged heat of slow-cooking.

If ribs are sold only in large packages at  your grocery store, just buy the large package and split it in half.  There are six ribs in my freezer as I write this, and I’ll be sharing another slow-cooker recipe featuring them before too long.  Ribs and slow-cooking are a match made in culinary heaven.

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Slow-Cooker Ribs and Sweet Potatoes with Maple Glaze

Ingredients:

6 Country-style boneless beef ribs
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp. sea salt
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 apples, roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion, cut in large chunks
1/3 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Layer the ingredients into the slow cooker in the order listed, drizzling the maple syrup over the top. Turn the slow cooker to Low and cook for 7 hours.

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