by Herndon Hasty (Digital Performance Manager)
Anything you can cook for a really, really long time tastes awesome. Roasts, smoked meat, braises – give food enough time to think about it, and it’ll come through the other side tender and tasty.
The downside is that cooking low and slow takes more effort than you’d think, either up front in prep, or fighting to maintain a temperature or bringing in ingredients at the right moment. Even good Crock Pot meals can mean cooking things a ton before you cook them all day.
And when you’re globetrotting with your hot wife or husband, shaking up the world at work, or getting your house tent up and decorated, who has that kind of time? There are days when an intricate meal are called for. Others, the closer to set it and forget you can be, the better.
Enter the crock pot. And a few pounds of chicken. And a bottle of barbeque sauce.
That’s all you need to create a meal that’s a side dish or salad away from being impressive enough to pass you off to yourself, a crowd, or a current or prospective hot wife or husband, as a decent cook, as long as you hide the evidence before they show up.
Yup. That’s it.
Put 4 pounds of chicken wing drummettes, or 3 pounds of chicken tenderloins (or even short ribs) into a slow cooker. After you’ve put a liner in, of course – crock pot liners, as Ben Franklin once said of wine, are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy…or, at least, that He doesn’t want us to spend a lot of time on cleanup if you don’t have to.
Pour a half a full bottle of barbeque sauce over the top (and a half cup of water for short ribs). If anything cooked for a long time is going to be awesome, anything cooked in barbeque sauce for a long time is going to be doubly so.
I like Stubbs Original, since my hometown Gates is tough to get outside of Kansas City. But, since my wife likes sweet sauce better, even though she’s wrong, we compromise on Stubbs Heritage – a good combo of peppery and sweet. If you can’t find it at a grocery store near you, don’t worry. McCormick just bought them for $100 million, so you’ll be able to soon enough.
Put it on low for 6 hours. You’re done.
The crock pot does the rest except for drooling over the smell (almost as good as new leather, fresh out of the bag), keeping the dog off of it, and eating it.
Pull it out with tongs, and either shred before serving (and by that I mean look at it a little harshly and it’ll fall right apart), or serve right on the bone for wings and ribs. The recipe doubles very well for a bigger crowd or party, and drummies drowned in barbeque go over well for game watching.
If you can brown them in a skillet ahead of time, all the better – keeps the broth from getting too fatty. Broiling 5 minutes a side can also work in a pinch.
If you can spare an extra minute, crush a few cloves of garlic into the bottom, or put some rosemary and garlic powder over the top. Maybe add some heat with chili powders, tabasco, or raw cut peppers.
Serve it with a side that can soak up sauces – potatoes, grits (polenta, if you’re too good for grits), rice, or couscous work good. The rest of the week, you’ll have leftovers that go great in quesadillas, sandwiches, over top greens, and even pastas.
If you can find another 5 minutes, throw a rub on before you slow cook or brown it for a little extra kick and range of flavors. The barbeque sauce is going to be pretty dominating, so subtle flavors aren’t going to be your friend.
Super advanced, I know.
You can also chop up some veggies to throw in with the meat. Unless you’re El Presidente and can’t stand them (see Inspiration tabs), onions especially add some nice flavor and make a nice addition to the meal.
You know what else makes food taste really good? Marinating. Anything you can marinate for a really long time is going to taste awesome, too. Throw your meat into a quarter cup each of vinegar, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce overnight – adds a whopping two minutes to your prep – and it’ll take it to an even higher plane, especially with a rub added over the top. Skip the Worcestershire if you’re doing short ribs though – I hate it on beef as much as Dave hates onions, but it sure adds a kick to chicken.
Stop. It’s too much. Help.
Anyway, good meal, not much work. Lot more just like this…just keep looking for anything you can boil in barbeque sauce for a chunk of a day, and most of your work is done.
Basic Crock Pot Chicken / Short Rib Dinner
Prep time: 5 minutes to 24 hours
Serves: 2 with at least one dinner worth of leftovers – two for chicken. Can be doubled for bigger crowds or more leftovers.
4 pounds chicken wing drummettes, OR 3 pounds chicken tenderloin strips / beef short ribs.
1 cup (approximately half a bottle) barbeque sauce
1/2 cup tap water (for short ribs)
2 Tablespoons, Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, brown sugar, celery salt (your picks)
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves, garlic
Chili powder, Cayenne powder, hot sauce, cut peppers, rosemary to taste.
Airtight container or large ziplock bag
Large skillet or broiler plan
If you’re lazy:
1. Add meat to crock pot.
2. Pour barbeque sauce over top.
3. Cook on Low for 6 hours. Serve on-the-bone or shredded with your favorite starch.
If you’re a little more adventurous, begin at any of these points:
1. Place meat in an airtight container. Pour liquids into container. Shake well. Refrigerate, shaking occassionally, for 2 hours to Overnight.
2. Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Press meat into rub, covering each surface, and place on skillet or broiler pan.
3. Lightly brown each side in skillet, or broil each side of meat for 5 minutes.
4. Cover Crock pot interior with liner. Crush garlic into crock pot, and add any remaining rub. Place meat in crock pot.
5. Pour barbeque sauce over top meat, and add any spices, peppers or aromatics over top the barbeque sauce.
6. Cook on Low for 6 hours. Serve on-the-bone or shredded with your favorite starch.