Ribs can be an intimidating cooking project.
I’ve seen recipes for ribs that take literally three days of marinating, seasoning, cooking, resting, basting – and the list goes on!
Luckily, there is a happy medium. While my slow cooker ribs
take a solid day of cooking, most of it is unattended time and the results are absolutely delicious. The key is to make sure you do a few steps before and after the slow cooker cooking to make sure you get some good browning on the ribs.
I recommend using pork baby back ribs, as they will cook evenly and are easy to cut down and fit in your slow cooker. Before we do that though, season the rib racks liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.
Bake the seasoned ribs in a 450 degree F oven for about 15 minutes per side until they are browned on both sides. This browning will help develop flavors in the slow cooker.
Meanwhile, stir together all your sauce ingredients. You can use any store-bought BBQ sauce for the base and add in some extra flavors. A can of Progresso Fire Roasted Tomato Recipe Starter adds some nice tomato flavors to the sauce also.
Once the ribs are browned, add them to the slow cooker with the sauce. It’s okay if the ribs aren’t completely covered by the sauce. Cook them on low heat for 8 hours (or high heat for 6 hours) and rotate them every few hours so they cook evenly.
When the ribs are done they should be almost falling off the bone.
Take the ribs out of the sauce and pour the cooking liquid into a medium saucepan. It will probably be too thin at this point to be a real sauce. Also, there will be lots of fat on the surface of the sauce.
Use a spoon to scoop off as much of the fat as you can. You’ll probably be able to get 1/2 cup of the fat off the sauce, but it’s not important to get all of it. Some fat is just fine!
Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and simmer it for 15 minutes or so until it’s nice and thick.
Now for the key step: Baste the ribs with the reduced sauce and return them to a 450 degree F oven to caramelize the sauce on the ribs.
This will create a nice sticky sauce on the ribs. They will be tangy, sweet, and finger-lickin’ good!
I served these ribs with a side of Suddenly Pasta Salad and it was a winner of a meal.
Nick believes in the power of the slow cooker. Be sure to check out his blog, Macheesmo, and follow him on his Tablespoon Profile.