~ My General Tso’s Slow-Cooker Babyback Spareribs ~

IMG_5414General Tso's chicken, a Chinese-American creation of the latter 1970s, traces its roots to Pang's restaurant in New York City.  This spicy dish has a great history, and I for one am grateful to its creator, a Taiwanese Hunan-cuisine chef, Peng Chang-Kuei.  The dish also has a fun (but debunked) legend that claims the dish is named after Zuo Zongtang (1812-1885), a Qing Dynasty military leader and statesman, who lived with his wife in Xiangyin County the province of Hunan.

The secret to any General Tso's dish really is in the sauce:

6a0120a8551282970b0282e14fe6b3200bThe basic ingredients of General Tso's Chicken are indeed basic: dark chicken meat, shallots, rice wine vinegar, hot peppers, garlic and ginger.  The chicken pieces are breaded then deep-fried, then coated with a thick-ish slightly-sweet and spicy sauce.  The sauce, a bit more complicated, contains, water, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, garlic and ginger.  The dish (mostly the sauce), varies depending on the cook or chef preparing it, meaning, creative license is usually taken to place the emphasis on sweet vs. spicy and vice versa.

IMG_5351Over the decades, inventive cooks and chefs have come up with creative variations on the original recipe -- General Tso's meatballs, General Tso's chicken wings, and, General Tso's pork ribs (to name my favorites).  The secret to General Tso's  really is in the sauce, and, luckily, there are  time-saving, store-bought sauces dry seasoning mixes and that turn an otherwise laborious task into a "walk in the park.  The two in this photo are my favorites. 

Three components + Crockpot's casserole  = dinner in 4 hours.

IMG_53491  full rack baby back pork spareribs

1  packet General Tso's dry seasoning mix (about 3 tablespoons), your favorite brand

1  cup General Tso's sauce, your favorite brand

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing Crockpot casserole

IMG_5358 IMG_5358 IMG_5358 IMG_5358 IMG_5369 IMG_5369~Step 1. To prep the rack of ribs, remove them from the packaging and pat them dry in some paper towels and, using a paring knife, loosed then remove the silverskin from the underside of the rack. If you don't know how to do this, read my post ~ How to: Remove the Silverskin from Spareribs ~.  Using a large chef's knife, slice each rack into thirds or quarters (3-4 portions).  Sprinkle both sides, top and bottom with the dry seasoning blend, then, walk away for about 15-30 minutes, to give the dry seasoning ample time to "work its magic" and absorb excess moisture from the surface of the rib sections.

IMG_5373 IMG_5373 IMG_5373 IMG_5373 IMG_5373~Step 2. Spray the inside of the crock casserole with no-stick cooking spray.  Arrange the ribs to fit, in one row and slightly overlapping.  Using a back and forth motion, slowly drizzle 3/4 cup  General Tso's sauce over the tops of the ribs.  Using the back of a tablespoon, "smoosh" the sauce around over the tops a bit.  Put the lid on the crockpot casserole.  

IMG_5386 IMG_5386 IMG_5386 IMG_5386~Step 3.  Cook on high for 2 hours, then, low for 2 hours.  The tip of a knife or the tines of a fork, when pierced between any two ribs will easily glide through and come out on the other side.

IMG_5401 IMG_5401 IMG_5401~Step 4. Preheat broiler with oven rack positioned about 5" under the heat. Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil, then place a sheet of parchment in the bottom of pan.  Open crockpot and remove the ribs, arranging them slightly apart on the baking pan.  Using a large pastry brush generously slather the the tops with the 1/4 cup additional barbecue sauce.  Finish ribs off under the broiler for 4-6 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and just starting to to show signs of light browning.  Watch carefully.  All barbecue sauces contain some form of sugar, which can and will go from lightly-browned to burned quickly.  Don't, just done, take your eyes off them after the 4 minute mark.

Plate & serve atop homemade or store-bought lo-mein:

IMG_5435My General Tso's Slow-Cooker Babyback Spareribs:  Recipe yields 1 rack spareribs/3-4 servings.

Special Equipment List: paper towels; paring knife; large chef's knife; Crockpot casserole; 1-cup measuring container; spoon; fork; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; aluminum foil; parchment paper

6a0120a8551282970b02788040f2af200dCook's Note:  The machinations of making ribs in a slow cooker never seemed right to me -- kind of like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  I've seen people bend entire racks, slice and stack sections, even cut them into individual riblets   Their rib abuse is why I never attempted it, but, there was never a doubt the slow cooker could achieve perfection.  Thanks to Crockpot's Casserole, I now have ~ The Best Way to Make Slow-Cooker Babyback Ribs ~. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022