Thursday, April 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs, rubbed with a mixture of spices and herbs, brushed with your favorite barbecue sauce, and cooked to perfection - in your crockpot! Pictured here with creamed corn and a simple summer salad of cucumber, onion and tomato.

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

I love pork ribs no matter how you make them. Smoked from my favorite BBQ joint, baked in the oven and fall off the bone, full out grilled from start to finish or started in the oven and finished on the grill. Hang around long enough and I'll probably do a pressure cooked rib here soon, which is pretty much steaming, and a lot like boiling, which kinda makes some of y'all crazy when that word boiled is associated with a rib of any kind. Oh yeah, I've boiled them too! And wait, if that's not shocking enough, are y'all sitting down? Because, I've actually even smoked some here recently y'all... although in all fairness to my expert Q'er friends, that's still considered fauxQ, because I did it with an electric smoker, which, frankly is very likely the only smoking you're ever gonna see outta me.

It was my first ever run on smoking anything, well, other than using a smoker box on the gas grill, and, of course, I had no idea what I was doing. So many questions. What are the best most neutral wood chips to use when you smoke multiple things? Do you have to put liquid in the drip bowl, should you, or is that basically steaming the meat? How often do you add chips and when? When it's still smoking or when the smoke slows down, or when it stops altogether? And what about venting? Do you close the vent all the way, part of the way, or leave it wide open? See what I mean? Could you imagine me, Miss Analytic Over-Thinker, using an authentic, real wood smoker? Talk about stress!

I have to admit the Masterbuilt was easy enough to use though. For that first run, I made a rack of baby back ribs using my basic rib rub, a whole chicken using Mimi's chicken rub, and threw in some potatoes on the top rack to use for a smoked potato salad. It was all very good, and there will be more experiments to come. Being clueless, I had no intent of blogging about it so I didn't really make a record of it other than this photograph I decided to snap as an afterthought just before eating. Yes I realize there are two starches on this plate. It was a Sunday and I was out of green stuff... and, okay... maybe even a little lazy.

Anyway, to get back to the slow cooker version, this is based on a recipe shared last year by Jackie, one of our Facebook family members, and I have made them multiple times since, both with spare ribs and baby back ribs. The spare ribs are much more difficult to work with because they are very hard to cut, so you'll literally need a meat saw to break them down - but the baby back ribs cut easily and work beautifully for the crockpot.

Jackie's method of starting the ribs off standing is key to keeping them from stewing in their fats and falling apart into a pile of shredded pork in the slow cooker. Standing them makes them nice and tender, but results in a good bite, so long as you don't overcook them. The rub is another key feature, because the ribs cook only with the dry rub for most of the cooking process, and get sauced only in the end, 30 minutes before supper time. I've made my own revisions, but you can find Jackie's original rib recipe over on the Facebook page. It is a fantastic method and we absolutely love ribs done this way. I know you will too. Thanks so much Jackie for sharing your recipe with us!

Here's how to make them.

Spray your slow cooker generously with some non-stick cooking spray. I find that it's completely unnecessary to bother with pulling the membrane off of the ribs with baby backs, unlike with spareribs where I find it to often be tough. Cut the ribs into serving sized sections - 2 to 4 rib sections, depending on how many are coming for dinner. Combine all of the dry seasonings - brown sugar, paprika, onion and garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, black pepper and thyme - and rub all over the ribs.

Stack ribs vertically in the slow cooker, with the larger cut bone side down, and leaning against each other. Cover and cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours.

Uncover and dab your favorite sauce on the ribs.

Cover, turn the heat up to high and cook for about 30 minutes or until well glazed. Tell me. Is your mouth watering about right now?

Recipe: Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 8 hours | Yield: About 2 to 4 servings

  • 1 (3-1/2 to 4 pound) baby back pork ribs, cut into 3 to 4 rib sections
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme, crushed
  • Homemade or commercial barbecue sauce

Spray a 6 quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all of the dry seasonings and rub all over the ribs. Stack ribs vertically in the slow cooker, with the larger cut bone side down, and leaning against each other. Cover and cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours. Uncover and dab sauce on the ribs. Cover, turn the heat up to high and cook for about 30 minutes or until well glazed.

Cook's Note: Because this recipe prepares the ribs standing to keep them out of the fat drippings, you can really only do one rack at a time which will feed 2 to 4 people depending on appetites and the side dishes you serve. To prepare a second rack of ribs you'll need a second slow cooker.

Tip: To finish on the grill for some pretty grill marks, skip the second cook in the slow cooker, coat the ribs on both sides with sauce and sear on a medium high hot grill bone side down for about 7 minutes. Add more sauce, turn and sear on the fat side another 6 to 7 minutes, or until done.


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Southern Style Dry Rub Ribs for the Grill
Fall Off the Bone Oven Baked Ribs
Grilled Ribs

Posted by on April 19, 2012
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  1. They look delicious Mary and Bev always says, "don't tell me what the so called experts say, I like my ribs to fall off the bone." The way you cooked these is a good way to achieve that without drying them out. Barbequing = cooking low and slow over indirect heat usually in a smoky atmosphere = all kinds of smokers including electric, so you are BBQing in my opinion. A smoker is just an oven with smoke in it.

    1. Thank you Larry!!! Couldn't catch any butts on sale before the smoker arrived at my doorstep but chickens were on sale. Next up is a butt for sure!! Caught some on sale recently and they are in the freezer!

      By the way, I do agree with Bev about the fall off the bone - even one of our most popular BBQ joints here does theirs like that & they are pretty busy all the time! I also enjoy them with a little chew sometimes too though.

  2. This looks awesome! I was going to make ribs on the grill this weekend, but the forecast doesn't look so good now, so maybe I'll have to give this a try! thanks, Mary! anne

  3. Awed, hungry and drooling. I wish I could get through the monitor and get one for myself =)

  4. Mary, your ribs are making me drool! I tend to like them falling of the bone the best too.These babies look perfect.

    1. They really are good - hope you give them a try Lynda!

  5. I have no bones to pick (haha,see that?) with electric smokers. Heck, a lot of the competition people use pellet cookers these days which are nothing but an oven with an automatic feed chute.

    I'd eat those ribs! No seriously, hand me some.

    1. Ha! Good to hear - didn't even realize that competition smokers are using pellet cookers. I had considered one of those myself! These ribs are actually quite good - great alternative for cooking ribs.

  6. These just went into the pot. good eatin tonight!

    1. delicious and the meat falls off the bone when I wave my fork over it.

    2. My ribs were not nearly as tender as I expected...should I put water in the slow cooker? How do you prevent them from drying out?

    3. Oh they should definitely be tender and no water is needed since ribs are fatty & then will produce fat juices. The slow cooker keeps them moist - it's kind of a steaming process, so as long as you don't keep lifting the lid on the slow cooker, they should never be dried out. If the ribs weren't tender, they weren't done. You probably just needed to let them go a little bit longer. Total time is gonna depend on the size of the ribs, how much meat is on them, how hot your slow cooker cooks etc. but you'll know when they are tender when they begin pulling away from the bone.

  7. Dear Mary, have you have cooked with ribs that are smoked like bacon? I used to see them a lot when I was growing up, but I never see them in the stores in my area. My Mom used them to season greens, beans, peas, and sauerkraut.

    1. I haven't noticed ribs but I use other smoked meats like ham hocks and even pork neck bones for seasoning. I'll have to see if we have the ribs anywhere around here!

  8. I have been making ribs in the slow cooker for years. I season them & use a bbq sauce. I usually cook them overnight & place them under the broiler to caramelize for a few minutes on each side. My family loves them & so do I !!

    1. These were the best ribs I've ever had. I used Rich and Sassy BBQ sauce from Famous Daves.

    2. Thanks so much!! And that sauce sounds like something I have to try too!

    3. Agreed that finishing them off under the broiler is key. It tightens everything up and gives them more of a traditional BBQ'd rib texture.

  9. I made these the other night and they were a huge hit with my boys (husband and son). In fact my husband said he doesn't think he will bother grilling ribs anymore since they came out so great!! I always enjoy your recipes, thanks for the posts!!

  10. trying a spin on your recipe. using a tenderloin in the oven. how could it taste bad? your spice rub is excellent as I've made your recipe before

  11. These look great! Would I follow the recipe the same way using boneless pork ribs? I am cooking 6lbs in my large crockpot tomorrow for friends who are coming over. I do not want to slather them in sauce the entire cooking time but I want to make sure they are incredibly tender. Should I add liquid since they are boneless and if so how much for 6lbs? Any suggestions are much appreciated!

    1. Hi Tiffany! I don't know for sure because I've not done the boneless ribs this way, but my guess is that with some adjustments it would work. Since you don't have bones to hold them up out of the juices, ball up some foil in the bottom to lay the ribs on so they won't be swimming in the fats dripping off. That should help them hold together better and not end up shredded. You'll have to also adjust the time. It's just a guess but probably more like 6 to 7 on low (check them at 5-1/2 to 6 if you can). Unless they are very lean you shouldn't need to add water because the fats will drip off the ribs, but you could add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom if you like.


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