Like pretty much anyone else, I am tired when I get home (I know, amazing huh!?). Other than a hot shower & a tall glass of alcohol, I really don’t want to make much else. Hence why fast food (finally) caught on to have late night menus.
The food industry has been doing it for quite some time with the pre-made meals in your frozen food section. Sometimes, you just want something more than nuked burrito or bag of greasy fries, & the corner crash & gas just doesn’t have what you want.
The slow cooker or crock pot is one of those great inventions for those who work (esp in food service). The Dutch oven is great for this as well. A sub note: Anything you can cook in an electric slow cooker or crock pot, you can cook in a Dutch Oven. With a cast iron Dutch Oven, you can pop it in the stove’s oven & keep it on low. In an oven, all sides will get hot, & unless you prop the lid (with a toothpick), there isn’t any venting.
Your goal ‘here’, is to put together a meal (or as much of it as you can), that will cook till you come home. Or more so, will cook while your away, & be alright till you come home.
Stews are great for this, as they can cook all day on low & be great. Also on the list are soups, loin chops, steak, lamb, brisket & what I’ll start this venture off with ribs!
The amount of what you can cook in a crock pot, is huge really, you will need a little imagination (or a blog with great recipes & ideas)! Don’t forget your veggies either.
I make pork loin, Osso Buco, ribs & the like ‘all day’ at work. In fact, I’m (modest [no I’m not]) pretty good at it., & like to eat that stuff myself.
Though most restaurants ‘feed’ the cooks, & many allow for a certain amount of grazing; sometimes you want something a little more than a piece of meat shoved in your mouth, as a meal. I know I have no desire to cook after doing it for 10-16 hours for someone else. I would venture to think this is popular for any position that has you tired at the end of the day.
So this series in my blog, will be about using the slow cooker because you can just put it together & come home to it ready. Not a bad deal really. I’ll use the tag slow cooker so you can find it easier.
I have read through the bazillions of cookbooks, blog & recipe sites about slow cooker cooking. I am conveying here, what has worked for me. Stuff I have done a few times.
Start with your rub. You can mix it together in a cup or a bowl, or (as in the pix) just sprinkle it over the meat. A couple things I want to clarify. Rubs & marinades are important, & you cook the product at the temperature it lived in. You can find articles on those three subjects here. Should be searchable with the tag (I’d venture to say).
So, the ribs are just out of the fridge, & moving towards not being chilled as I get the spices together for the rub. I chose both country style (no bone), as well as the more popular rack o ribs.
On the rack, you can take your time to remove the membrane if you’d like. I think I may have done this twice in my life. Once was because my mom told me to, I believe, not sure about the other. Don’t waste your time. Just slice along the section to score & you’ll be fine.
I rub both sides of the meat, including the bone side. I don’t rub really, I massage. Get me fingers in there & mash the seasonings into the meat.
The rub I use, I have been using for quite some time.
Salt (now reduced sodium)
Which is how I shook it over the meat(see pix). IF (big if), your bbq sauce has cayenne pepper in it, be mindful of the cayenne pepper you use in your rub. You can also use any of the other colors of pepper. I like white pepper in my rubs, & have tried pink & green, I just prefer black & cayenne (red is fine too).
As you can see in the pictures, I have the meat on some kitchen towels. Because this is in the house, & the meat is raw, clean up is super fast, & the towels go right in the washer. The counter is wiped with bleach, & that paper towel goes in the garbage. Each time, every time. Not shown is that I had the sink cleared out & pre heated the water, to wash my hands. I think most people know what that looks like ;}).
‘Raw’ drying is paper towel, that goes into the garbage. Stay safe!
Season the ribs on both sides, don’t worry about what stays on the towel. I layered the ribs in the pot, with the membrane down & the meat up, with the country style ribs on top. As you can see in the pic, I oiled the slow cooker. Just use a paper towel & what ever oil is on hand. It helps clean up if there is any sticking to the sides. You can also use one of those liner bags if you’d like.
I took a dab of BBQ sauce, & a little water & put that on the bottom of the pot for additional flavor/moisture. As you can see in the pix, there was about two inches of juice from the ribs themselves.
I didn’t choose to put any bbq sauce on the ribs while cooking them, as I like to caramelize the BBQ sauce afterwards. It takes longer to heat the broiler than it does to caramelize the bbq sauce.
You can coat your ribs in the pot, but it’ll get a little thinned out. I have tried raising the ribs off the pot, but it isn’t worth the aggravation. So this is why I add a little bbq sauce & water to the pot.
That’s it. You can start the cooking on high & turn it to low after about an hour, if you have the time, but this is about getting it together before heading out the door.
You can also do this the night before, or just prep it (do toss in the fridge), because 20 hours in the slow cooker, isn’t going to hurt the meat or flavor any at all.
Temp the ribs, of course, but they’ll be ready in about 5-6 hours on low, but you’re shooting for around 8 hours. You can make a quick batch, in five hours (about 4) if you put the slow cooker on high. Caramelizing in the “big oven” will bring them up to temp anyhow.
Grab a ‘stick’ of butter & a package of sweet corn bread & dive in!
If you’d like a bit of a treat, you can pour off the juice from the pot, into a pan (a frying pan goes faster), heat it up, & stir in your bbq sauce. This makes one heck of a dip! Do keep in mind that the calories in this are going to be maxed out.
From frozen addition:
I put some of these ribs in the freezer a couple months ago, just for making this recipe. As you can see, they are good & frozen. Usually how one takes most things from the ‘fridge’, to get a meal, & I wanted pictures.
To make this frozen pop of meat & bone fit in the crock pot, you just run water on the spot where you want it to split. That’s about the half way point. IF, you want, you can use warm water to speed it up a little. Just let it trickle run, while you mix the packet of seasoning.
BTW, this is how we defrost stuff in the restaurant. You should see our water bill!
Remember to use a basic ketchup to mix, so you aren’t bringing over the spices from the ketchup, to the rib sauce. You can, of course, but if you want to “right” flavor, use generic ketchup.
Mix the three ingredients (honey, ketchup & seasoning packet), & set aside, as you get the meat ready. You want the three of the ingredients to “marry”. You can just fork mix it in the measuring cup.
You don’t have to just use the McCormick slow cooker seasoning packet, it’s just what I had picked up to try. You can use anyone’s I’m sure. I just like them, & the additional ingredients wasn’t a full shopping list of items :}).
Now, this seasonings packet is pretty darned good as it is, but I like my BBQ sauce spicier so I added about a TBSP of black & a 1/4 tsp each of cayenne & white pepper.
Slather up the ribs (or just pour the sauce over them). Be sure to get any ribs that are on the bottom if your slow cooker stacks that way.
Scrape out the measuring cup or leave it. I chose to leave it, as I want to make a thicker sauce after the ribs are done.
So I rinsed the cup a little with water & waited till the ribs were finished. I wanted them for lunch, so put the slow cooker on high & came back in 5 hours.
Drain off the juices that are in the slow cooker, in to a pan. Add what you had in the measuring cup & whisk (fork, spoon, immersion blender). Boil this for about 30-40 minutes on high. Add 1 cup of ketchup, & stir. Cook for about 8-10 minutes on low. The goal is to have a thicker BBQ sauce. Adjust the additional ketchup for how thick you like your sauce. Do remember, the next day, it will thicken, as most sauces like this do.
This, I poured over the ribs & put in the broiler (toaster oven) to caramelize. Just because I like them like that. You don’t have to do that, as once the time limit is up for cooking, they are ready to eat.
I did put mine on rice (landing), & spooned in some additional sauce over that.