Tangy barbecue sauce clinging to tender beef ribs might seem possible only if you slave over a hot grill. That's not the case if you slow cook the ribs in the oven, on top of the stove or in a slow cooker. Use your favorite barbecue sauce or try something new such as a Mexican spicy sauce. Throw in some potatoes and dinner is done.
It's in the Sauce
Barbecue ribs benefit from a boost from barbecue sauce. The acids in the sauce -- from tomatoes or vinegar, for example -- tenderize the meat as it cooks. Select your favorite bottled sauce or homemade. If you're using a slow cooker, add the sauce straight from the bottle. Toss the ribs so they're coated with the sauce and set on low for five to six hours. Potatoes cook in the slow cooker while the ribs are cooking. They'll absorb some of the barbecue flavor. Try teriyaki sauce for a change of pace. Or combine onion soup or ranch mix with a cup or two of beef broth, beer or apple cider for a different taste.
Braise to Perfection
Braising keeps the beef ribs moist, which leads to tenderness. You have two choices. Braise the ribs in broth or another liquid for a couple of hours. Fish them out and then coat with your favorite barbecue sauce and finish in a hot oven. Alternatively, dilute the barbecue sauce with enough water so the liquid comes up halfway the sides of the ribs. Turn the ribs from time to time so the ribs on the top get their fair share of time in the diluted sauce. By the time the ribs are done, the sauce has cooked down and absorbed some of the juices from the beef. Braising the potatoes for as long as the ribs need to be braised doesn't work very well. Just put the potatoes in for the last 20 minutes, so they don't overcook.
Into the Oven
Wrap up the flavor by wrapping the ribs in aluminum foil. Brush on barbecue sauce first, wrap tightly and bake in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 90 minutes. The ribs steam themselves tender. Scrub the potatoes, rub with cooking oil and place directly on the oven rack. At the low temperature of 300 F, medium-sized potatoes will be done by the time the ribs are finished. Unwrap them for the last 30 minutes of roasting.
Instead of using your oven, start up the grill. Coat the ribs generously with sauce and grill over low heat for two hours. Turn the ribs over every 30 minutes and brush with more sauce. Keep the lid closed in between bastings. Wrap the potatoes in foil and turn them when you baste the ribs.
- The Art of Cooking; Arnold Zabert
- The Joy of Cooking; Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
- The Kitchn: How to Bake a Potato in the Slow Cooker
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