As I have told you before, I have a love/hate relationship with slow cookers. For some things, they work great...like the Mississippi Roast, the best roast known to man or woman or child! For other things, I am not so thrilled with the results. They just don't have the same browning, and thickening abilities that you get on the stove or in the oven. Therefore, I have had mixed results with ribs in the slow cooker. I have fairly good results with country style ribs and spare ribs to some extent, especially if I am cooking them with sauerkraut or in a sauce like Teriyaki. But for baby back ribs, I like them to be really tender, but still on the bone and also with a nice glaze on them when they are done. I am happy to say this method and recipe results in some of the best ribs I have ever cooked, even when compared to grilling and smoking.
There are just a few tips when cooking baby back ribs in the slow cooker that make a world of difference. Here is what you will need:
2 full racks baby back ribs, cut in thirds
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. smoky paprika
1 Tbs. liquid smoke (optional)
1 cup Coca Cola (you can also use Dr. Pepper or even apple juice)
2-3 cups barbeque sauce of your choice (depending on how much you like your ribs sauced)
Cut the ribs in thirds or fourths if you want to serve smaller pieces. Leave the membrane on the back that they usually tell you to remove. It helps to keep them from falling apart. Sprinkle both sides with the Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.
Mix together the brown sugar and the other seasonings. Rub this mixture on both sides of the ribs liberally. There might be more than you need for two racks and I actually did three when I did these.
Spray a large slow cooker, like a 6-7 quart one, with nonstick spray. Now, there are some who say to stand the ribs on their ends in the slow cooker to get better results. I don't see the need for this with this method though. I just lay them on top of each other in the slow cooker. Once they are all in and cozy, I pour the Coke around the edges. It's not much liquid and that is a good thing. It's just enough to create some sweet steam. You do not want your ribs to stew. Stewed barbequed baby backs are not all that appetizing. That is why some say to stand them on their ends, but since we aren't adding hardly any liquid, you don't have to and you can fit more in. If you are using the liquid smoke, put it in now also.
It's best to cook on low for 8 hours...low and slow is best. If you got a late start, you can cook on hi for 4-5 hours depending on your slow cooker and how fast it cooks. They all seem to vary. How many you have packed in there also makes a difference.
When they have cooked the 8 hours and you take the top off and look at them, don't panic! They are not pretty at this point. Nope, they are actually what we in the south call, butt ugly, right now. Don't worry though, they will be pretty when we get finished. I promise! I had pictures of this step by step to show you, but when I went to find them they had vanished. I think they were so ugly they deleted themselves or something...lol.
This next step is critical to this whole thing, so don't skip it. Carefully, remove the riblets from the slow cooker and place on a large baking sheet or baking pan cover with foil (makes cleanup so much easier). Now slather them, front and back, with the barbeque sauce of your choice. I used my own homemade sauce, which I will give you the recipe for at the end of this post. Place in the oven at 425 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes or just until the sauce has sort of caramelized and browned a bit. Don't let them burn. Now they aren't ugly anymore...see!
My Homemade Barbeque Sauce:
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. oil
2 cups tomato ketchup
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup Coca Cola
1/4 cup vinegar (apple cider or white)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
dash of Tabasco sauce
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. spicy brown mustard ( can use 1/2 Tbs. yellow mustard)
Saute onion in butter and oil. Add all of the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let it simmer for at least an hour. Stir this often as it can stick due to the sugars. The longer it simmers the better it gets. If you can make it the day before and refrigerate, it's even better.
This sauce makes all of the difference in barbequed food. When I don't use it, I can tell a huge difference. This will be more sauce than you probably need and you can refrigerate and keep this for about a week to use on other foods.