I am not a “slow cooker” gal. I own a crockpot but it’s used for specific dishes. Those that add a bit of convenience to my life; such as making stock when I don’t have the time to stay in and watch my stock pot or making chilli and being able to keep it warm through a football party and coming home after work to simmering French Onion Soup. Gently simmered Country Style Ribs is another favorite for my crock pot.
I love how pork sweetens tomato based sauce; it’s always a key ingredient in my Italian Sauce. When my mother added pork neck bones to the sauce, it was the first I would grab for. My mother, always watching her figure, would limit me to taking just one as they did contain that meltingly good fat! Funny how I find myself now stopping my daughter with the same reasoning when she get’s excited to grab a neck bone! My Italian Sauce is always made in my extra large stock pot, not ever in a slow cooker, as it needs to be stirred lovingly throughout the long five-hour process. But these Country Style Ribs, after an initial searing in a skillet, can be placed in my crockpot with sauce and seasonings and simmered slowly without a need for stirring. I love to prepare this on an early Sunday morning having it slowly cook all day while I bike ride or run my errands and come home to wonderful aromas in my kitchen and a meal ready to go!
Chunks of tender pork in a sweet Italian sauce is a rustic, comfort meal. The pork will just fall off the bone and I serve it mixed in spaghetti or topped on spaghetti squash (my mother definitely instilled in me those healthy habits). The ribs do contain some fat and I trim off a bit of it, but the little fat on it is truly necessary to making these ribs so tender. Lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese and I’m in heaven.
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
1 tablespoon mixed dried Italian seasonings (basil, oregano)
1 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
¼ cup red wine
3-4 cups of homemade sauce or 1 jar prepared tomato basil sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional, for a spicy version)
Heat olive oil in large skillet. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasonings. Place as many ribs as possible in skillet, without crowding or touching. Sear each side until nicely browned and remove to place in slow cooker. Add onions and garlic to skillet and sauté for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the wine and tomato paste and cook, scraping up the bottom the pan. Pour the onion and garlic mixture over the ribs and add in the tomato sauce and seasonings. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or until the meat is tender and coming away from the bones. Discard any loose bones and bay leaf breaking up larger pieces. Pour over spaghetti and serve hot.