Easy Slow-Cooker Baby Back Ribs

I have a confession.  I have never successfully prepared ribs….until earlier this week.  My failure many years ago left such an indelible memory that I decided it was easier to order them out.  Then came the challenge from my Mom.

“You’re such a great cook, how come you never make ribs?”  

Well, this week after researching “baby back ribs” and “slow cooker” on Pinterest I decided, “if not now, when?”  Challenge accepted!

Spence is out of town visiting his best friend and I needed a dinner partner to honestly critique my creation, a compilation of several recipes. Mom was happy to oblige. It was a simple, set it and forget it preparation and most importantly they were delicious!

Easy Slow-Cooker Baby Back Ribs   – serves 2-4

  • 3 lbs baby back ribs
  • Dry Rub Spice for Pork  (I used one from Market Street Saloon in Charleston SC)
  • 1/2 vidalia onion – cut into thick slices
  • 1 can A&W Diet Root Beer (you can use Coca Cola)
  • BBQ Sauce (I used Open Pit Original)

First remove the silver skin from the backside of the ribs.  Thanks to Pinterest, I learned that by slipping a butter knife under it, pulling gently backwards it will come off easily – if it’s too slippery pull it with a kitchen towel.  (Omitting this step had lots to do with my epic fail years ago).

Cut the rack of ribs into 3 sections. Generously cover all surfaces of the ribs with the dry rub and massage into the meat.  Wrap the ribs and put them back into the refrigerator for 24 hours if you have the time.

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I used a Reynolds Slow Cooker Bag which incidentally makes clean up super easy.

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Place the sliced onion at the bottom of the slow cooker followed by the can of root beer.

Next place the ribs into the liquid and turn your slow cooker to the low setting. Cover and step away for 3 hours.  After 3 hours, turn the ribs reversing the top side with the bottom and cover again.  Let them slow cook for another 3 hours.

Set oven at 375 degrees. Remove the ribs from the slow cooker and place onto a foil covered pan.  Baste all surfaces of the ribs with BBQ sauce. Place into the oven for 10-15 minutes until the sauce carmelizes.  Serve and enjoy!

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Shortround’s Beans

Spence was a Captain in the US Army when he met “Shortround”. He was a First Lieutenant in Spence’s command in Viet Nam; they served during 1969.

Years later, Spence reached out and located him living in Georgia with his wife Pat and family. They enjoyed many years of renewed friendship and Spence made more than a few road trips to visit. Shortround and Pat were great hosts and amazing cooks.  This recipe is based loosely on what Spence called Shortround’s Beans. I make it in a crock pot and the aromas that emanate for the next 12 hours are divine.

Shortround’s Beans  serves 8-12

  • 3 cans of beans – rinsed & drained (any combo – pinto, kidney, butter beans, black beans, great northern, cannellinis)
  • 1 ham shank (you may substitute ham, cooked bacon or pancetta)
  • 1/2 c chopped sweet white onion
  • 1/4 c chopped green pepper
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 c chopped tomato
  • 1/4 c dry vermouth
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t coarse black pepper
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 3 c boiling water (you could use veggie, chicken stock or V8 juice)

Take out your crock pot/slow cooker. Rinse and drain the beans, place in the bottom of the slow cooker, top with tomato paste, vermouth and chopped tomato. Next nestle the ham shank on top, followed by the garlic, green pepper and onion.  Add the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Pour boiling water over the top and set crock pot on high for one hour.  Drop the heat to low for the next 11 hours.

Stir periodically. After 12 hours (or so) cooking time, remove the ham shank and pull the meat, as you would pulled pork (use two forks to shred) and add the meat back into the beans. Discard the bones.

All this meat from one ham shank, simply fell off the bone.
All this meat from one ham shank, simply fell off the bone.

Set out your soup bowls and hot sauce- if you want a bit more kick!

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Enjoy with fresh bread – this is comfort food at it’s best.

Chef’s Note: To make this vegan/vegetarian, simply omit the meat.