I know we are all meant to eat less sugar these days but sometimes you just need a plate of sweet sticky glazed meat in your life (a hangover is the ideal opportunity for me in fact.) But going low fodmap means that you can’t have the two most common sweeteners at home which are apple juice and honey and you have to be hellishly careful with commercial sweet sauces that tend to contain high fructose corn syrup. So when I wanted to give some pork ribs a sweet sheen what was my best option?
The answer was black treacle with its almost bitter burnt sugar notes that work well with strong spices and slightly Asian inspired flavours. Oddly savoury in its sweetness I thought it would add everything I needed in a simple slow cooker meal.
And sure enough it was incredibly simple. The most complicated thing I did was heat the treacle in a pan to make it easier to coat the ribs. I also finally got the chance to use the slow cooker liners I was given a while back to make the slow cooker crock easier to clean. I’m not sure I’d use them for stews or soups but for items that create sauce or are sticky, they are my new favourite thing.
The other beauty of this recipe was that you can be quite informal with measurements and make any adaptations you’d like such as adding chilli if you wanted or garlic if you aren’t fodmapping. I literally just made my version up one Sunday morning while waiting for the start of The Archers omnibus and as long as you keep the Chinese five spice and the ginger, you’ll have the charm of the recipe.
Black Treacle Slow Cooker Ribs (serves 2-4)
- 750g pork ribs, individually cut rather than a rack
- 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
- 2 pods black cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon MSG powder (optional)
- salt and pepper
- 150g black treacle
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (I prefer tamari which happens to be wheat free)
- 1 tablespoon miso paste (or black bean sauce would be good if not fodmapping)
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated or 1 tablespoon ginger puree
Line your slow cooker if you’ve treated yourself to those liners and place the pork ribs into it as evenly piled and layered as possible. Season with the salt and pepper and MSG and the five spice powder. Crush the cardamom pods and add the seeds to the ribs.
Put the treacle into a small pan and heat gently to make it runny. I used this amount as it’s all I had left in my tin and I don’t like food swimming in sauce. As the treacle heats, add the the fish sauce, soy sauce, miso, sugar and ginger and stir it all together until the miso has melted.
Pour the treacle mix over the the seasoned ribs and put the lid on the slow cooker crock. Cook the ribs on low for 8-9 hours and then serve scattered with fresh coriander if you have some and with rice or flatbreads on the side.
The meat will be so incredibly tender when you try to lift the ribs that it will simply fall away from the bone. So if you don’t usually like eating meat on the bone you can enjoy ribs easily as you can simply strip the meat off and eat it separately. It also reheats well for lunches. The perfect way to get to know that new slow cooker you got for Christmas in fact.
And there’s a rather good book with over 200 other ideas for it that I can heartily recommend…