Culinary-wise, I think of this as a transitional time of year when you’re not quite ready to say good-bye to the barbecue, but you’re itching to break out (or try out) the slow cooker. With your work schedule and - if you have kids - after-school activities heating up, these days evenings can be too hectic to linger over the grill tending meats than require longer cooking times such as ribs. And yet, it seems a tad too early to dive into cold-weather comfort foods ideal for the slow cooker such as stews and roasts. The solution? Let your slow cooker do the heavy lifting – that is, cook up these fabulous ribs all day – and then, when you get home, finish them off on the cue. The result: BBQ Ribs with a grill-time of 15 minutes or less.
TIP: To help tenderize and flavour meat, begin with your favourite rub. Certainly, you can mix your own, but for this recipe I decided to save time and try out Kozlik’s Pork Rub. After all, the Canadian-owned company is famous for its mustards – a product line that boasts more than 30 flavours. (For tips on hosting a mustard tasting party click here).I figure, these are the folks who would know about creating fabulous taste concoctions, and their Pork Rub didn’t disappoint. In fact, my neighbours raved.
Crock-to-Cue BBQ Ribs
· Good quality Pork Rub to taste
· 2 ½ pounds baby back ribs (side ribs or button-bone work too just note longer cooking time), cut into 6-rib lengths
· 2 -3 onions, sliced into rings
· Liquid to cover bottom of slow cooker about ¼ inch (water, chicken broth, beer or wine – whatever you have on hand, or perhaps, in hand!)
· 1 ½ cups of your favourite BBQ sauce
Generously rub your pork rub all over the ribs, or if you’re super organized, do it the night before and refrigerate. Pour liquid into slow cooker. Place onions in slow cooker to form a nest. You’re doing this for extra flavour but also to elevate ribs so they don’t cook in their own juices. If space allows, create a “tent” out of the rib racks so again, most of the meat is elevated.
Baby Back Ribs: Cook on LOW for 5 to 7 hours
Side Ribs/Button Bones: Cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours. (To eliminate some fat, you can broil ribs for a few minutes before placing in slow cooker, perhaps while you're peeling and slicing the onions.)
Remove ribs from slow cooker and place on work surface. Brush generously with BBQ sauce on both sides. Heat and oil grill. Cook on medium-high for about 15 minutes or until sauce sticks to ribs and you get those lovely grill marks and a bit of charring.
Looking for other delicious Crock to Cue recipes? Try Beef Short Ribs (less than 15 minutes grill time!), or if you prefer pork, BBQ Baby Back Ribs (or side or button-bone). Do you have any ideas for dishes that would work well going from the slow cooker to the barbecue? Please comment!