It was beautiful day here last Saturday...sunny, around 5 degrees Celsius, (about 41 degrees Fahrenheit), with clear blue skies. It was the perfect day for exploring the great outdoors with our Goldendoodle, Daisy. I had planned on making bbq ribs for supper but really didn't want to spend the day nursing them along. What was my solution? The slow cooker! My only problem was that in my experience, while ribs done in the slow cooker are flavourful and tender enough they don't really have that pleasing-to-the-eye carmelization that baked or grilled ribs have. But what if I seasoned the ribs up, gave them a quick broil on really high heat BEFORE placing them in the slow cooker? That might work! And once again with my usual, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained' perspective, I set out to test my theory.
First thing to do in the prep of ribs is remove the tough membrane from the back side of the ribs. The easiest way to do this is to slip your fingers under the membrane and slide them along, releasing the membrane. It's a messy job folks, but someone has to do it!
I could have placed the ribs in a shallow pan and broiled them as they were, but I wanted some flavour, carmelization and colour! So I made a quick rub mixture of 2 Tbsp Cajiun seasoning with 2 Tbsp brown sugar. I rubbed in equal amounts of the rub into the back and front of 2 racks of pork ribs.
I then cut the ribs into 2-rib portions, placed them in a shallow baking pan and broiled them for about 5 minutes per side. Looking pretty good already, hey?
While the ribs were broiling, I threw together a little 'mirepoix',pronouced 'meer pwah'. Mirepoix is a roughly chopped combination of carrot, onion and celery used to add aroma and flavour to soups, stocks, sauces, etc.
I heated up about a Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, tossed in the diced veg, gave them a quick saute and then added two cloves garlic, finely minced using a small grater, 2 tsp dry thyme and about 1/2 tsp each of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
Wanting to take my sauce just one little insy bit further, I decided to throw in a 1/2 c. red wine, (I had some chianti left over from the night before so in it went!). I like to call this 'drunken mirepoix'!
While the wine was evaporating, I placed the broiled ribs into my slow cooker. When the wine was absorbed into the mirepoix, ,I removed the skillet from the heat, added in a 455ml bottle of my favorite chicken and rib bbq sauce, stirred it all around and then poured the works over the ribs in the slow cooker.
I put the lid on my slow cooker, set it on low and walked out the door. On low heat, it takes about 8-10 hours for the ribs to become fall-off-of-the-bone tender, which worked well for me but if you haven't got that much time to spare, they cook equally well on high setting for 4-5 hours.
When dinner time came, I prepared a little quick cook white rice boiled in no salt added chicken broth with some diced green onions and heated up a package of frozen broccoli and cauliflower in cheese sauce in the microwave. (See? Even I take short cuts every now and then!).
While you can serve the ribs right out of the slow cooker, I was still looking for a little more carmelization...after alll....we eat with our eyes first! I removed the ribs from the slow cooker, placed them in a shallow baking pan, spooned on a little of the sauce and broiled them for another 5 minutes before serving.
This is how they looked out of the slow cooker:
And this is what they looked like after being roiled for 5 minutes:
Looking a little more appertizing, wouldn't you say? To serve I plated up 2 x 2-rib portions, some rice with green onions and a little broccoli and cauliflower in cheese sauce on the side.
These Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs were a huge hit with my family. They were tender, fall-off-the-bone and the sauce was so flavourful! The plain rice on the side complimented the ribs perfectly. I won't do slow cooker ribs any other way in the future. Why would I? By broiling the ribs a little before and after gave them a depth of flavour rarely found in slow cooker food.
To make these Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs, you'll need:
3 lbs/4kg pork back ribs (2 racks)
2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp dry thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle (455ml/16 oz) your favorite BBQ sauce
1.2 c. red wine
Trim fat and remove membrane from underside of ribs. Prepare dry rub by combining Cajun seasoning and brown sugar. Rub equal amounts of prepared rub into top side and bottom side of each rack. Cut each rack into 2 rib portions. Place on shallow baing sheet and broil until browned, about 5-7 minutes per side in oven. Transfer to slow cooker.
In large skillet heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil. Add diced onion, carrot and celery and saute until onion is tender. Add minced garlic, dry thyme, sea salt and black pepper, stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup red wine and let wine simmer. When wine has evaporated, remove skillet from heat and stir in BBQ sauce. Pour mixture over ribs in slow cooker, cover and set on low heat for 8-10 hours. (Or, if time doesn't permit, high setting for 4-5 hours).
When ready to serve, carefully, using a slotted spoon place rib portions onto shallow baking pan and broil for 5 minutes to carmelize sauce. Serve and enjoy! (Printable version of this recipe can be found HERE).
Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs...easy, healthied-up, inexpensive AND delicious!