Monday, October 7, 2013

Sage, sour cream and cremini mushrooms country-style pork ribs (Slow cooker recipe)

I was doubly excited yesterday to try this new recipe.

First, I was recently gifted a slow cooker by my friend F. who wasn't using it at all, and I was just dying to use it for a comforting stew.
Second, my other friend R. (who is friends with F. coincidentally) had been raving about the French dish "Porc au lait et a la sauge" (pork with milk and sage) for weeks, and since we are indeed in the midst of Autumn, crisper weather, leaves yellowing and all, I figured it would be the absolute perfect time to do this!

The original dish calls for a roast and whole milk, but I adapted to what I had available: country-style ribs and sour cream. I'd seen Chef John at Foodwishes use a mixture of creme fraiche and chicken broth for his version of the similar Italian dish "Maiale al latte", so I figured I could do the same. I also mixed in cremini mushrooms for an added veggie-dimension.

It was a first, like I said, and I will admit that although it was very good, I felt like something was missing. And after a few minutes analyzing my dish, I figured it out: BACON! I missed bacon. Not really surprising, since the original version also contains lardons (diced cured pork belly).

So here it is guys, my recipe for slow-cooked pork ribs, with sage and cream. I will be adding notes in italics with suggestions that I think will improve the final result.

Please excuse the horrid photography, but I started to cook at 8AM with little to no natural day light...

- 4 lbs bone-in country-style pork ribs
- one 8oz basket of cremini mushrooms
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 large onion, sliced thick
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup chopped sage (I used flash frozen fresh sage, but would highly recommend using fresh for this dish - mine was a bit old and the flavor was a bit lost in the final dish).
- salt and pepper
- a splash of olive oil
optional: 4 strips of bacon (thick cut, diced)

- season the pork really well with salt and pepper to taste and brown in a skillet, with a splash of olive oil. You really want to sear the meat so that it develops a lot of flavor and a golden crust

- place the meat on a bed of sliced onions in your slow cooker, add the garlic cloves and chopped sage

Note: if you decide to go the bacon route, now would be the time to sprinkle the diced bacon on top of the meat
- pour the chicken stock over the meat and start the slow cooker, set on HIGH for 5:30 hours

- when you have about 1:30 hours to go, open the lid of the slow cooker and add the cream and quartered mushrooms

Note 1: you can spoon out some of the rendered fat at this moment, before adding the cream and mushrooms.
Note 2: I noticed at the end of the cooking that the sauce was more watery than I would have liked and I think that precooking the mushrooms in a little butter or olive oil and browning them would be better than adding them raw. That way, they would not release that much moisture in the final dish
- at the end of the cooking time, the meat should slide right off the bone and be the most tender you've ever had. Serve with a spoonful of sauce over a bed of creamy polenta, mashed potatoes, egg pasta or rice (I had polenta, and I think it really was a good choice of starch)

Note: if the sauce is too liquid still, you can transfer it into a pot and thicken it over high heat, using a splash of cornstarch diluted in a little water and stirring until you reach the consistency you want

- Enjoy!

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