Baby backs aren’t difficult to make per se but to get them just right, it does require a little patience, some special equipment, and a good recipe plan. A slow cooker is an easy way to get any meat tender, ribs included, and a fast trip under the broiler will give these ribs that coveted caramelization and char.
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The other piece of the puzzle is having a good BBQ sauce. This one will gain sweetness from the brown sugar but also a real complex depth of flavor from the coffee and bourbon, while a dash of soy sauce adds nice umami undertones. If you’re keen to buy a sauce, here are a few of our favorites. And do consider some of our favorite BBQ sides to serve the ribs with, too.
Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker, $39.99
Buying a good crock-pot does not mean you have to break the bank!
Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs with Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
Makes 2 racks of baby back ribs
For the ribs:
- 2 racks baby back ribs
For the barbecue sauce:
- 8 ounces thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 large shot bourbon
- 1 cup extra-strong brewed coffee
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Mix together these dry ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground yellow mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Step 1: To make the barbecue sauce, cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until it starts to brown. This should take about 10 minutes.
Step 2: Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions have softened approximately 10 more minutes.
Step 3: Add the dry ingredients mixture and stir to evenly combine.
Step 4: Add the bourbon and stir all of the ingredients together, deglazing the pan.
Step 5: Add the bacon-vegetable mixture, coffee, ketchup, and soy sauce to a blender and blend until smooth.
Step 6: Place the sauce and meat in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator to marinate. If you can do this overnight that’s best, but even a few hours will noticeably change the flavor of the meat.
Step 7: Turn the slow cooker on high and add the ribs and sauce. Try to set the ribs standing up along the sides of the pot to keep the meat from sitting in the simmer. Cook for 4 to 5 hours until done.
Step 8: Turn on the broiler. Remove the cooked ribs from the slow cooker and place them on a baking tray meat-side up. Apply a thick coat of the sauce and broil for about 5 minutes. Make sure to keep a close eye on the ribs—you don’t want them to burn in the broiler. There should be 2 cups of sauce remaining to pour into bowls and serve on the side.
Photos and styling by Chris Rochelle