Breaking down slow cooker bias for Korean ribs

Let me be clear: I don’t like kitchen gadgets. I like cast iron and a good pot. I like my ancient meat grinder and to knead my own dough. And I especially don’t like gimmicks.

Sure, I’ve drunk dialed Ron Popeil at 3 a.m. and was shocked to see what we affectionately called “The Spinner” arrive at my door a could of weeks later. I loved that rotisserie. I confess. I was sad when it finally fell apart and ended up in a garage sale.

And I’ll confess, I still have the Turbo Cooker. These are remnants. Reminders of my complicated pre-sobriety life of excessive work, excessive ambition and excessive booze; reminders too of late-night drunk dialing.

I’ve rid myself of most gadgets. One that for some reason never got the boot was The Bride’s slow cooker. Let’s be clear: slow-cooker= gadget. I grew up with dinner being dumped into the godforsaken thing as we all hurried off to work or school and had it dumped onto a plate when we all hurried back home at the end of the day. No thanks.

So we’ve had the damn thing for at least five years. Our kids bought it for The Bride for a mother’s day present because, well, they must hate me. They know The Bride doesn’t cook. They knew she’d love the idea of cooking with a slow cooker. They knew she’d never move past the idea stage. And I was left to find a spot for the thing in my kitchen. There it sat.

Until… sigh… last week. For reasons I still don’t understand — I blame aliens seizing my mind — I decided to use the slow cooker for a new Korean Ribs recipe I wanted to try. The recipe was half stolen, half created. I like my own approach to Asian spices, so I usually venture off the map. But the original recipe convinced me to try the slow cooker.

The ribs were beautiful from “Dinner” my locally raised steer.


Knowing the slow-cooker would basically turn them into a dull, listless grey, I pumped up the barbecue at 8 a.m. and seared them.


Next I dumped my spices into the blender and gave them a whirl. Here’s what I recommend: A pear, a chunk of ginger, two cloves of garlic, soy, chili powder, onion powder, chicken broth, parsley and rice vinegar.


Finally, I poured it all into the slow cooker and started my day.

An hour later I check on it. I growled.

“How do you know if this damn this is even on?”I snarled into the other room to The Bride.

She offered some lame commentary, because let’s be real, she knew less about it than I did. I felt like a culinary traitor.

An hour later I checked inside the lid. Steam greeted me.

“Well, it’s on,” I groused to myself.

And so the uncomfortable day went until soon the aroma of my sauce meeting meat filled the house. I fired up the skillet for an arsenal of vegetables. I pulled the ribs out and they nearly fell tenderly off the bone. I served the sauce on top.

It was delicious.

“See I told you I loved the slow cooker,” The Bride said taking a bite of the ribs.

I sighed deeply and said nothing. She smiled up out of the corners of her mouth, relishing this moment.

I still hate the slow cooker, but it can keep its place on the rack in my kitchen because there will surely be another time when I break down and use the gadget.

I won’t like myself, but I sure as hell liked the food it cooked up, which, begrudgingly, is good enough for me.


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