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Tuesday 11 September 2012

Tesco Grill BBQ Glazed Succulent Slow Cooked Pork Rib Rack

I've already mentioned that ribs and I don't have a particularly good relationship (in the UK, at least - in the US, bring 'em on!), so this will have to be put down to "one of my whims". Just to make this seem even more bizarre, I've frequently been warned off Tesco for any meat products with various horror stories. Personally, my experience has been pretty good thusfar, so perhaps that contributed to my decision to pick up this box.

Also, hey, let's face it, we've had a bit of a late summer this year, and what's summer without a barbecue?

Pardon me, not quite sure what came over me just then... I don't even like barbecue.

What I do like, though, is the freakishly delightful concoction that is 'barbecue flavour'. I don't know what it really is, but it tickles my tastebuds in just the right way so, even on those all-too-frequent occasions where the meat on ribs fails to impress, a good, flavoursome barbecue sauce can make all the difference. Shame that doesn't happen very often either...

So, when Tesco tells you you're picking up "a full rack of slow cooked pork ribs smothered in a sticky BBQ sauce" that's "great for sharing", what can one expect?

Well, this product by Tesco was a surprise to me on three counts:
  • The meat actually lived up to the description
  • The ratio of meat-to-bone came out in favour of the meat, just for a change
  • The barbecue sauce was pretty phenomenal
To expand upon these points, in the posting linked above, I described succulent and tender meat that fell off the bone, but Tesco's version surpasses Waitrose's easily. It may not have separated from the bone quite so readily - and, to be honest, in some cases it was rather reluctant to part - but most of the meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The very ends were slightly tougher (not to mention a little burnt), but that's to be expected. It was far tastier than the ribs from Waitrose, though that's not saying much. To be specific, the meat had a flavour, and it tasted like good pork. Score one to Tesco.

The most common problem with shop-bought ribs is that they seem to be more bone than meat. Considering it's basically a chunk of a pig's ribcage, that probably shouldn't be surprising - the whole point of a ribcage is to protect the delicate organs housed within. Large bones with small gaps between are the most efficient way to accomplish this. Nevertheless, these Tesco ribs actually had a decent span of meat between each rib and, even more unusually, the meat extended quite a way above and below the bones. Each rib probably only had about one mouthful of meat to it, but that's at least half a mouthful more than Waitrose. Score two to Tesco. And I'm not even going to dock points for the slimy, fatty, tissue on the underside because I just have to learn to expect that 'meat on the bone' is going to include some of the icky stuff that I'd rather not stuff into my gob. Nor am I going to dock points for the gristly bits or the bone fragments because (a) they merely prove that this was actually once part of an animal, and that it took some effort to remove and (b) they were few and far between.

The sauce is where even the best meat products can sometimes disappoint, but this so-called "BBQ sauce" should have a "+1 of awsomesauce" appended. It wasn't just barbecue sauce - that sweet, smoky flavour that properly barbecued food rarely attains - it was pleasantly spicy. Not eye-watering by any means, but far more appealing than the average barbecue sauce, and that's coming from someone who really likes the average barbecue sauce. Score three for Tesco.

What really impresses me, though, is that Tesco aren't claiming this is something it's not - they're not even trumpeting it as something special, and it's my considered opinion that they probably should. Then again, it's fairly common for supermarkets to undersell their own brands. Sure, they have their extra special, 'premium' own brands but, more often than not, it's those that disappoint and the 'standard' products that shine. This is one such case.

If I had to quibble anything, it's that Tesco, too, are referring to something as "a full rack" which, in the US, would be "a half rack" (so I had no trouble polishing it off by myself), and that this product is labelled as part of the Tesco Grill line, but it's either for barbecues (which would be very messy, given that the sauce is covering the ribs in the package, and would probably end up mostly dripping off) or for oven baking.

But surely that's just being pedantic?


  1. I just moved to London from the US and been craving ribs. Tried store bought ribs yesterday, but made my husband share a the "full rack" with me. If I had only read your post yesterday.., I would've known that it would have only been equivalent to a US-"half rack", and bought two :)

    1. Hiya Tina. Thanks for the comment! Sorry to hear you got caught out with UK portion sizes. There should really be an expatriate handbook for the UK that lists such important factors ;)

      Restaurants are, I think, slightly better when it comes to ribs... though a UK 'full rack' is still fairly modest compared to what you'd be used to.

      Making matters worse, I've noticed the size of pretty much every supermarket food product being markedly reduced just over the last couple of years. Not sure if it's possible to purchase worthwhile ribs at a butcher but, if so, you'd certainly get something closer to a proper 'full rack' that way.