Blackened ribs - Boston style
April 6, 2005 9:10 AM   Subscribe

I can't seem to be able to cook BBQ ribs in my crockpot (Rival, 6-quart dealie) without overcooking! [More inside...]

All the recipes I use call for simply rubbing down the ribs with sauce then popping them in the slow-cooker on low (10-hours). I do that and return to singed, blackened, barely edible charred delights. I think my problem might be the amount of ribs I put in the here are my questions:

- how much (in lbs) meat/ribs is a good amount to slow cook for 10 hours? I've been using 2 lbs of ribs (since it is only my wife and I eating them)
- How do you adapt slow-cooking to lesser amounts of meat?
- Any good crockpot ribs recipes you'd like to share (so I can burn various BBQ styles into unrecognizability)?
posted by tpl1212 to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think the problem is you're referring to something cooked in a crock pot as "BBQ."

Seriously though, are you using any liquid in the crock pot? perhaps a bit of beer or pinapple juice in the bottom of the pot would keep them from drying out and burning?
posted by bondcliff at 9:20 AM on April 6, 2005

Second that: liquid, liquid, liquid. If you're not putting enough meat in there, extra liquid is even more important as it gives you enough thermal mass that it doesn't get too hot and get all dried out.
posted by Doohickie at 9:53 AM on April 6, 2005

We have that exact same crock pot. When making small amounts of food in it, all the liquid burns off and we end up with a dried up roast, chicken, whatever. Get one of the smaller pots (2.5 or 3 qt), and you'll have much better luck keeping your food nice and juicy.
posted by zsazsa at 9:55 AM on April 6, 2005

Failing that, just call 'em "Cajun"... yeah, that's it...
posted by Doohickie at 9:55 AM on April 6, 2005

Ten hours is far too long. As bondcliff mentioned, use liquid. If you aren't, then even 3 hours is too long.

Ribs aren't really a good crockpot dish.
posted by bh at 9:56 AM on April 6, 2005

Alton Brown's method works really well... although I've had better success at 225 degrees, than I have at 250, for 2.5 to 3 hours. I've also used store-bought spice rubs when I didn't have the time or effort necessary to blend my own. When you're reducing the glaze, don't reduce it until it looks nice and thick, it's too late at that point. Turn off the heat when it resembles hot maple syrup. I've also extended this syrup (meaning adding something to it to make it go farther) with my favorite bottled BBQ sauce.
posted by Witty at 10:38 AM on April 6, 2005

Except for smoking (which I've never done), all the best rib techniques I've seen use the same 3 step process: first grill with dry rub until lightly browned, then braise in liquid for 2-20 hours (for which I use the oven, but a crockpot should work fine with enough liquid), then grill while brushing with a sugary liquid baste for 10 minutes.

What the particular rubs and liquids are is up to you but I'm a fan of cajun rub, then apple juice and liquid smoke for the braising, then the boiled down braising juice with BBQ sauce for the liquid baste.
posted by boaz at 1:02 PM on April 6, 2005

Witty that's way to complicated. We use a roasting pan, put the ribs in with 2-3 bottles of beer (dark seems to work best) to cover them (meaty side facing down) and pop them in the oven at 250 to 300 for at least 3 hours. At then end I brush a bit of sauce on them and pop them back in the oven for a few minutes to let the sauce soak in.

These meat falls off the bones. Mmmmmmm.
posted by smcniven at 6:30 PM on April 6, 2005

If you use the crockpot, regularly monitor the liquid. Although I would agree with other posters that a crockpot does not sound like an ideal way to cook ribs in the first place.

And I will also second Alton Brown's rib recipe. Basically, make little envelopes of foil and bake the ribs in a mixture of maragrita mix and orange juice. Versions of his recipe were used on his show and in his book. It has turned out spectacularly for me everytime I have tried it, and it is relatively easy to do.
posted by Tallguy at 8:23 AM on April 8, 2005

Oh, and to answer the last part of your question.

My favorite crockpot BBQ is pulled pork. Get a pork shoulder, give it a dry rub, wrap it loosely in foil (to keep the juices from the meat close during cooking), and then cook it in the crockpot at the lowest temperature your crockpot manufacturer advises for meat. In my crockpot that means the 2.5 setting for 8-9 hours. Also, I put about 1/2-3/4 c of water in the crockpot, and check on it every few hours (amount may be different with larger/smaller crockpots). A moist cut of meat won't need any more liquid, while drier pieces may need me to add more water several times.

Once the meat is cooked so it just falls apart with a fork, drain excess liquid and then shred with a fork. Finally add your favorite BBQ sauce (Calhoun's sauce from Tennessee is my favorite), warm through and serve by itself or on a bun. Easy and tasty.

For my wife and I, I will cook a 3 lb piece over the weekend to enjoy for a dinner and then enjoy the leftovers for lunch all week.
posted by Tallguy at 8:40 AM on April 8, 2005 [2 favorites]

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