What is FOOD?

Making Peace with my Crocker.

slow cooker barbecue ribs
Image by Maggie Hoffman via Flickr

As we are coming to the end of the first decade of the 21st century, I have decided to do what many of us pledge to do every New Year… I decided to make amends.  Life is too short to dwell on the past. And in the spirit of the I LOVE FOOD DIET and the coming New Year, I have decided to make peace with my Crock Pot.

My main bone of contention with my Crocker (a.k.a. Slow Cooker), was that not only did it take up valuable real estate in my tiny NYC kitchen but that it cooked so damn sloooooooowwwwly.

I have been known to posses little patience and have been guilty of being (at times) somewhat hyper and energetic. Watching a Slow Cooker cook is like watching a pot of water boil… only it never boils! It just sloooooowly simmers.

However, I have learned that this is actually not such a bad thing. There are many cuts of meat that benefit greatly from the slow cooking process. Cuts of meat, especially less expensive cuts like chuck roast, brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, etc. often contain large amounts of connective tissue and tough muscle. The slow cooking process breaks down all those tough and chewy fibers, rendering the meat juicy and tender.

Earlier last week, I was having a craving for Ribs. As I do not have access to a BBQ in my apartment, I mistakenly selected the “quick and speedy” method of cooking ribs. Instead of the suggested 6 -7 hours of slow cooking, I diligently followed the instructions for the speedy method.

The “rapid cook” method involves boiling the porcine rack in a huge pot of water for 1 hour. After that, drain and pop the boiled ribs in the oven with your favorite seasoning. I had purchased a low carb dry rub from Whole foods and carefully sprinkled the seasoning onto the ribs. I then followed the directions and baked them in the oven for another hour.

Well, I should have followed the expression, “Good things come to those who wait“. In my earnest to cook and eat these ribs, I chose not to wait. And because of my “not waiting” , good ribs did not come my way.  The rapid cook method made this meat turn out burnt, dry, stringy  and chewy. 😦

Never one to give up, the next day I decided to give my Crocker ANOTHER chance to redeem itself. As some of you may have read in my past post (That Crocker is a Killer!) , I have had some rather unsuccessful experiences with that behemoth on my countertop. My first foray with the crock pot resulted in a 3rd degree burn on my husband’s hand. The second time our meal came out a little better, but still I was not sold on my Slow Cooker.

Well, looks like three-time’s  a charm as I was FINALLY able to make a decent low carb meal in my Crock pot.

KISS – Keep it simple stupid seems to be way to go. This acronym first coined by Kelly Johnson, lead engineer of the spy plane Lockheed U2 during WWII, still rings true today. Instead of trying to “out-wit” my Crocker, I was going to KISS it. 

I simply rinsed the 4lbs of ribs in cold water, plopped them in the Crocker, added one diced onion and 1/2 jar of sugar-free BBQ sauce and pushed the button.

Restraining myself from lifting the cover every 5 minutes and peeking into the Crocker was harder than the real prep work. I forced myself to get our of the house and do some holiday shopping. Three hours later, I came home and immediately ran over to look at my bounty in the Crocker.

WTF??? These ribs were as pink and raw as they were before I left the house! “Is this thing even on ???” I asked myself, as I furiously started feeling around the back of the Crocker for the plug. Yep, it’s plugged in. I then remembered from my last experience that the Slow Cooker does not really kick in until the next 3 -4 hours of cooking. I pried myself away and calmed myself down with a glass of wine grumbling to myself that this thing is so damn slow.

Finally 4 hours later (7 hours in total), I lifted the lid.

It was sooooooooo worth the wait. These slow cooked ribs were so tender and delicious. They were practically falling off the bone. Even my youngest son, who barely eats anything , helped himself to seconds. 🙂

I guess this Crocker is not so bad after all.

Happy Holidays and Chow for Now!

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