Well, who'd have thought it? Another Thursday, another post about guilty pleasure foodstuffs. Generous readers might be tempted to credit me with foresight, or think I actually planned this.
Truth be told, when I picked out a selection of (reasonably) quick and easy things from the Made to Share range at my local Morrisons, my girlfriend did suggest I could write it up for this 'ere blog but, since the last choice in my "3 for £5" selection was their Smoky BBQ Mini Ribs, there seemed a strong chance I was in for a very disappointing meal and I'd basically decided there would be no write-up. After all, long-term readers if this humble blog will know that my experience with ribs in the UK has been decidedly mixed.
The full Made to Share snack dinner I cooked just for myself this evening, aside from the ribs, featured the amusingly alliterative BBQ Pulled Pork Pockets and the old favourite Loaded Potato Skins. Setting them all up to cook should have been very easy, but my attention lapsed on the final stage and, having timed everything carefully up to that point (25 minutes for the ribs on their own, adding the potato skins for two minutes, then finally adding the pockets for the remaining 13 minutes of the 40 minute total) I neglected to activate the kitchen timer and had to guess when the final 13 minutes had elapsed. If anything, it all stayed in the oven a little too long, though. On the upside, I did notice that the instructions for the ribs state that they should be allowed to stand for a minute before serving. I doubt that's where I've gone wrong in the past, but it's something I'll look out for in future.
As far as the Loaded Potato Skins go, there's really not much to say... They never work especially well when home-cooked, often sticking to the baking tray and splitting apart when removed. They're ultimately just slightly hollowed out thick slices of potato filled with cheese and bacon and, in the case of this package, supplied with a soured cream and garlic dip. This kind of this is good and filling, but never really outstanding in any way.
The BBQ Pulled Pork Pockets were something reasonably new... kind of like miniature Cornish pasties, but filled only with pulled pork. I can't say the BBQ aspect was particularly impressive, but the pockets were at least properly full... if rather small. Probably the most outstanding feature of the pack was that it contained nine pockets - I guess they're acknowledging that a pack of these might actually be bought as part of a selection to be shared between three people, rather than the more usual two or four...
And so we come to the ribs... which were actually pretty good. Each rib had a decent quantity of meat attached and I didn't find any large blobs of gristle or fat (though there were one or two bone fragments). The meat looked good - with none of the rubberiness, toughness or over-dryness that can occur with supermarket ribs - and, while it didn't actually melt off the bone, it tasted more or less as I'd expect pork ribs to taste. The sauce was even fairly impressive for a supermarket own-brand product - not the strong barbecue taste that I prefer, but certainly not the disappointing non-flavour that is so often applied to this kind of thing. It was possibly a little oversweet, given the lack of full-on smoky flavour, but it wasn't sickly. Had I actually set them out in a more sensible ovenproof container than the small, circular Pyrex bowl I pulled out of the cupboard, so that they were all laid out flat rather than jumbled up, and given equal access to the sauce, they might even have turned out the way they look on the packaging photograph. As it was, the sauce didn't have much of a chance to crisp up anywhere. It did actually adhere to the ribs fairly well, though, and I didn't have to scoop the sauce out of the bowl to drizzle it over any of the ribs.
So while I was expecting something bland and disappointing, what I got actually went some way towards restoring my faith in supermarket ribs... and, having tried Iceland's Jim Beam chicken tenders, I'm far more inclined to give the boozy-sauce-enhanced ribs a try than I was before this evening.