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Slow Cooker Country Ribs with Cranberry & Apples

After one time too many of forgetting about dinner until 5:00, I pull out the crock pot. I despised loading and eating from the crock pot while I was growing up but I’ve been making my peace with the appliance recently. It has its place.

About a month ago I stumbled across a recipe on the internet under “Southern Foods” by Diana Rattray. I followed it loosely and the outcome was truly delicious, but not “Southern.” I’m sorry, but cranberries, apples and maple syrup add up to New England. Those ingredients make me think about my friend Lisa in Maine who is tapping maple trees this month and works the family farm with the help of draft horses.

Here’s my version of the recipe:

2 cans of whole-berry cranberry sauce
½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar
2-3 chopped apples that cook well (Fuji is my current favorite thanks to the Stein family!)
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
½ of a red onion sliced
3-4 lbs country style pork ribs (I’m sure beef would be good too.)

Put everything but the meat and the onion into a sauce pan and heat it until it’s simmering and the sugar is nicely dissolved.

Meanwhile, toss the sliced onion and the ribs into the crock pot.

No,no, thank YOU! I love a bargain!

Pour the hot apple and cranberry mixture over the top.

Let it cook all day (6-7 hours) on low.

Serve with rice or whatever else suits your fancy. (I really stink at food staging…I could have at least gotten out the blue plates to take a picture of white rice. Oh, well.)

Last time I made this, I strained the left-over liquid, which has a wonderful sweetly cinnamon flavor and put in the refrigerator. A few days later I ladled off the fat which had risen to the top and mixed it with some sweet-n-sour sauce out of a jar to go with chicken. The result was an amazing version of sweet-n-sour chicken. Saving the cooking liquid is my attempt to turn over a new and more frugal (less lazy) culinary leaf at the inspiration of my sister-in-law. Then my friend Christa’s suggested that I read An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, and I’m finally figuring it out. Waste not, want not! As I’m learning this art, I’m feeling even guiltier about dumping the liquid from a slow cooked organic chicken down the drain at Betsy’s house while helping with dishes during my last visit. She is seriously one of the sweetest and dearest people you could ever meet and the silent horror on her face as she watched the broth hit the drain was only surpassed by her immediate and gracious forgiveness. It got my attention though! I am reforming.

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