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Pork Ribs Recipe ~ "Play with your food"

pork ribs and mashed potatoes

This pork ribs recipe is the ultimate Play with your Food dish. It was traditional in our German house and not only delicious, but FUN too.  Although Mutti used to cook this on the stove, I like using my way how to cook ribs much better. I use a slow cooker as I find it so easy to get it ready in the morning, set it, and leave it. 

Check below for how we PLAYED with our food and the rules for it!

Pork Ribs Recipe ... the "Play with your Food" recipe!


  • 1 rack of pork ribs cut into 2-rib sections
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • mashed potatoes (enough for 4 servings)
  • Place ribs into slow cooker.
  • Add water until ribs are almost covered.
  • Add bay leaves and about 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.
  • Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours or until meat is tender.
  • Remove bay leaves and re-season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve within a bed of mashed potatoes on each plate.
  • Serves 4

How to Play with your Food ...

  • Mutti served the ribs in a 'lake' of broth that was contained within the mashed potato 'dikes/walls'.
  • We then ate the meat off the bones, the broth, and the mashed potatoes being careful not to let the broth 'break' through the potato dikes.
  • The winner was the one who could eat the most without letting the broth leak out!

And, the winner wasn't always me! So much fun!

Cooking tips ...

The sparerib recipe above is a sure way how to cook ribs with meat that is 'falling off the bones'. If you want to remove the excess grease from the broth, you can always cook this ahead of time and put the slow cooker insert into the fridge to cool the broth. 

When cold, the fat will have risen and hardened on the top and you can remove it. Bring the slow cooker back to boil to heat the ribs and then serve.

Dishing this out ...

I was looking into the actual name for this recipe and after searching and searching came up blank! It seems to just be a method of plating the food that makes this dinner so unique.

Or so I thought.

I came across an interesting page, Uncle Phaedrus. He is a consulting detective for lost recipes. Here's his answer and a reader's answer to my question about this sparerib recipe.


Oma says,

Were you looking for a spare ribs recipe and ever wondered where the term "spare ribs" came from? Well, the actual German word for this cut is "Rippenspeer" which translates as "spear ribs" since these were often roasted on a spear.

A few years down the road of history and the term was used in English as "spare ribs". 

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