The best baby back ribs I have ever eaten were in Memphis Tennessee. I remember each and every bite of the succulent pork sensations. I couldn’t believe how tender and juicy they tasted without them falling off the bone into my lap. The ribs were prepared with a dry rub first and then gently smoked for several hours and served with a tangy BBQ sauce on the side.
Since that experience, which has been a few years ago, I started rubbing my ribs in a dry herbal concoction first and then, lightly coating them in sauce at the end of cooking time. I find that the layers of flavor are so much more intense when you prepare them with this easy two-step process.
In this recipe, I give the baby backs an Asian flair by adding a little Chinese Five Spice powder to the dry rub and continuing the flavors with an Asian inspired BBQ sauce. Cooking the Baby Backs in a slow cooker is an easy way to go because you don’t have to fuss with a smoker or grill and most importantly — you don’t sacrifice flavor. An hour before the ribs are done, pour the Asian BBQ sauce over the top and that’s it…deliciously simple.
These ribs are perfect for a comforting weeknight meal or on the weekend for entertaining or watching a big game. I like to serve these Asian Baby Back Ribs with stir-fry broccoli, but an Asian slaw would be great too.
1 rack of baby back ribs, cut in half
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce, found at most grocery stores
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon Mirin, Japanese sweet cooking sake
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons honey
6 fresh basil leaves, sliced
1. Mix all the dry herbs together in a small bowl and sprinkle on both sides of the ribs. Press the rub into the meat and place them inside the slow cooker. If you want to prepare these in the oven, preheat the oven to 325 and place the ribs in a roasting pan covered with foil.
2. Set the slow cooker to 7 hours on low heat. If you are cooking the ribs in the oven, cook for 2 1/2 hours on 325 degrees. When the ribs have 1 1/2 hours left to cook, start to prepare the BBQ sauce. Mix together all the sauce ingredients in a liquid measuring cup and stir to combine.
3. 1 hour prior to cooking being completed, remove most of the liquid in the slow cooker using a small measuring cup. You may need to tilt the insert pot slightly to help remove the liquid. Then, pour the sauce over the top of the ribs to coat and continue to cook for the additional hour, or until the time is complete.
4. Remove the lid and plate the ribs on a platter or slice into individual portions. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve with some greens. Enjoy!