Monday, November 7, 2011

Slow Cooker Revolution - Easy Barbecue Ribs

I think I'm in the minority of home cooks who doesn't fully appreciate the virtues of crockpot cooking-- until now.  Seriously, I never really found crockpot recipes to be the wonderful time savers that so many people swear that they are.  I don't have time to prep my dinner at 5:00am, when I'm struggling to get ready for work.   When I was first learning to cook, in my early twenties,  I used to grab a can of condensed soup, some raw chicken and I'd plug in that Harvest Gold Round crock pot and call it a day.  Did I just date myself?  I don't cook that way any longer. I like to sear my meats before braising.  So, my slow cooker lived in my garage pantry most of the time, because I wasn't going to prep food in the morning, on a work day.

I'm a huge fan of America's Test Kitchen.   I pondered, for a long while, if I really wanted to buy their  book "Slow Cooker Revolution".  I finally did, and I have to say that there are two particular pros to this book.  For one, the photos are in color, and they are mouth watering.   I also like that the recipes don't use canned soups or mixes.  I bookmarked quite a few recipes, vowing that I would see if I could learn to appreciate coming from work, to the aroma of dinner being ready.   I realized that I should plan my recipe that night before, and maybe I'd like this method of cooking. 

This weekend, I had thawed a frozen 3 pound package of  pork ribs that we bought after the Labor Day weekend.  NOTE: 2 packs of 1-1/2 pound of baby back ribs is recommended.  However, I managed to maneuver my larger rack with a little bit of finesse. Last night, I decided to prepare the ribs with a brown sugar rub.  My game plan, was to keep the ribs refrigerated and then I'd start the slow cooker as I left for work at 6:15am. 


America's Test Kitchen's recipe for the rubs is 3 Tablespoons sweet paprika, 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, salt & pepper. However, I had an unopened package of Tyler Florence's Brown Sugar Pork Rub that was given to me at last year's Foodbuzz Blogger Festival.  I liked the ingredients, and they were close to ATK's recipe.  


Generally, I make my own barbecue sauce.  My husband was born and raised in Kansas City, MO.  He really likes this BBQ sauce that I buy at Trader Joe's. I like it, too, and there aren't any scary ingredients.  Really, that's all that is needed to make these ribs.  I like that my slow cooker has a removable ceramic insert.

I buy Reynold's crockpot liners,  and they are one of the best inventions.  Cleanup really is a snap.  Look in the section where you buy plastic wrap and foil.  If you see them, buy them!  So, I set the ribs into my slow cooker, standing, along the perimeter with the wide end down and he meatier side facing the slow-cooker insert wall.   I covered it with the lid, put it in the fridge and went to bed.

Right before work, I poured about 1-1/2 cups of the barbecue sauce all over the ribs and turned it on low.  I had a crazy busy day at work, and came home feeling really tired-- 10 hours later.  The ribs smelled good, and I could tell that they were really tender.  I prepared a baking sheet with foil, set a baking rack on top and sprayed it with olive oil spray.  Removing the ribs wasn't easy, I'll tell you.

I managed to get them on the rack, but a few pieces broke off.  I tented the ribs with foil and then turned on the broiler, and set the oven rack to about 10" below the broiler unit.  In the meantime...

I skimmed as much fat off as I could, from the braising liquid, with a large and wide spoon.  Then, I strained the braising liquid into a pot.   I then set the liquid to a high simmer, for about 10 minutes, until it reduced and got a little thicker.

The recipe said to first set the ribs, meat side down, and then brush sauce evenly over the ribs.  After my difficulty in setting the super tender ribs onto the rack, I wasn't going there. I left the ribs meat side up and then put the whole rack under the broiler... every 2-3 minutes, I'd brush more sauce on the ribs until they looked sticky and crunchy.

I let the ribs rest for a few minutes.

My husband and son were waiting in the wings, as I cut the rubs. They were very tender.



My son and husband are crazy about ribs.  I'm not kidding. Me? Not so much. I'll eat one, maybe two.  My son dug in, first.  My husband followed next. 


VERDICT:  My son said these were the best ribs ever!   My husband was slower to respond.  Undoubtedly, he was comparing them to the ribs he's learned to grill well. I do agree that the ribs were very tender.  His verdict is that they are very tender, and almost smoky. I liked that there was a slight stickiness to the outside of the ribs, and a slightly charred taste from the broiler.  There is nothing like slow-cooked ribs, over wood chips and a Weber grill.   However, I will say that after the rough day that I had at work today-- I'm beginning to see how slow cookers can be my new best kitchen helper.   I give America's Test Kitchen kudos, for this recipe.  Broiling the ribs is key.  Otherwise, these would just be braised meat, and not barbecue.

I'm actually posting this in "real time" folks.  After dinner, I simply removed the crock pot liner and tossed it away.  Clean up was easy for me- which my son and husband graciously did for me.

Here's the recipe:







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18 comments:

Allie said...

These look amazing! I was so excited when I saw the rub that you used because I have the exact same one still sitting in my pantry from last year's festival! I also have the TJ's barbeque sauce in my fridge. I am making these ASAP!!! Your photos are gorgeous, hope my ribs come out just as beautiful :) Btw, I am so so happy that I got to know you at the Foodbuzz Festival. You are a wonderful person and I look forward to staying in touch :)

Big Dude said...

They look delicious and just the way my wife likes them. Rather than compare them to the ribs I cook in my smoker, I just look at them as entirely different and enjoy both for what they are.

bellini said...

Ribs are one thing that I know benefits highly from slow braising in the crock pot. I am inspired to dig mine out from the back of the cupboard.

Becki's Whole Life said...

I'm so intrigued by the recipe. I have never thought about doing ribs in the slow cooker, but these look fantastic. I think that the slow cooking makes these tender and then the broiling at the end makes these crispy and charred like the real deal!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I've never used a Crock pot. So many of the foods best cooked in a slow cooker are ones my husband won't eat! :-D I tried to talk my husband into getting one anyway, but he's too nervous to have an appliance running all day. I may never know the joys of owning one.

That means I'll never know the joy of these ribs. I LOVE ribs. I love them like crazy. I'd eat all of the ones in this post and leave your family with nothing if I could.

Stacey Snacks said...

Would you believe I have never made ribs??
These look amazing, and I may dive in! My husband would love them. Gorgeous!

Joanne said...

My slow cooker has fallen out of favor recently and I can't really imagine why! These ribs look superb...I'm passing this along to my parents!

Sue/the view from great island said...

I love my crockpot but so many dishes turn out gloppy and unappetizing. These look sensational.

kitty said...

I love ATK, but haven't checked out their "Slow Cooker" cookbook. I may need to do that after reading about your recipe & seeing the wonderful results!!! YUM!!

Joshua Alan - "Just Eat!" said...

Yum! My mother is the queen of the crock pot, so I was raised up on it. Surprisingly, I have only cooked with one once. Mom is buying me one for Christmas, so I must buy this book! The ribs sound fabulous, and I am so thrilled to have made your post, haha! Miss you!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

They may have been hard to handle but I'm impressed with what a good job the slow cooker did. It's such a treat to walk in the door at the end of a long day and smell something delicious waiting for me. I must learn to use my cooker more.

Lenia said...

Hi,Debby!First time here!Congrats on your great blog!I will follow you with pleasure!If you want to get a taste of greek cuisine,I invite you to nostimia.blogspot.com!
Kisses from Greece!

Nisrine said...

These look gorgeous and extremely flavorful. Yum.

Yukari - The Kitchen Fairy said...

OMG! This recipe looks so yummy!I made the BBQ pulled pork the other day with my crock pot.... can't wait to try this one too! Come visit me! :)

Barb said...

Hello, I just found your blog. I agree that the ribs look tasty. I would just say, that when I was working, I used my crock most on the weekends rather than weekdays. It was a big one so it usually made at least two meals. We love deviled short ribs in the crock. You also may like to try any of the "not your mother's slow cooker books"

Anne said...

I can't wait to try this! I love ribs and my slow cooker and ATK (and that Trader Joe's BBQ sauce...it's on the only one I buy). This looks like SUCH a wonderful recipe!

Dad and Mom said...

Sorry I'm with hubby on this one. Kansas City born and raised. Ribs go on the smoker, cook for many hours with a guy lovingly tending them through the smoke and fire with a cold beer at the ready.

Ribs in a crock pot????????? You need to pray to the BBQ Gods and ask forgiveness on this one.

Debby Foodiewife said...

Too funny, Ron! Yes, there is NOTHING like smoked ribs. But,when it's cold outside and it's a work night, this is a workaround.
I'm sure the Gods will forgive me. They know where my true loyalty is. Just wait until summer, and the grill is ON!