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Chef's Hat: Fall means it's time to fire up the slow cooker

If you just want to set it and forget it - then a slow cooker is the way to go. Use one for great ribs or pork chops.

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Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

Grilling is a great way to cook. You’re outside, the smell permeates through the neighborhood, you don’t heat up the house and you get that wonderful char-grilled flavor.

But if you are out of charcoal or gas; if you don’t want to stand around watching your food cook; or if you have a huge list of things you are trying to accomplish and just want to set it and forget it - then a slow cooker is the way to go.

Granted, using a slow cooker will give you more of a “barbecue” sauce type flavor than a char-grilled flavor, but it is an option for those days when grilling is not feasible.

The great thing about using a slow cooker is the simplicity. Start with a bit of liquid, add your meat and let it cook. The slow cooker does all the work.

Barbecuing in a slow cooker is ideal if you are going to an event, out fishing or biking and you want to come back to a meal that is ready to eat - instead of having to start from scratch when you get home. Your meal is either ready or will take just a few minutes of prep time before it is ready to be set on the table.

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You can make up your own barbecue sauce for any of these recipes or choose a ready-made sauce from the grocery store. Any sweet and saucy type sauce works well, or you can opt for something with a bit of hickory flavor. If your sauce does not have enough of a “kick” to it, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.

It is better to start out with a small amount of pepper and then taste. Too much pepper will diminish the flavor of the sauce and you will just end up with heat.

If you’re busy trying to squeeze in as much as you can in these last few weeks of summer, using a slow cooker is the ideal way to go. Start it in the morning, head out and forget it. When you get home your meal will be waiting for you. Happy Eating!

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

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Broil ribs after they've cooked all day in the slow cooker for a ready-made meal. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent


  • 2 pounds pork ribs
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • Garlic salt
  • Black pepper

In a measuring cup, add the sesame oil, tamari, apple cider vinegar and barbecue sauce. Mix until well combined.
Sprinkle the ribs with garlic salt and pepper and place into the slow cooker. Pour the liquid ingredients over the top. Cook on medium for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 8 hours.

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Place a sheet of aluminum foil over a baking sheet. Spray the sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Remove the ribs from the slow cooker and shake off excess liquid. Place the ribs onto the baking sheet. Place the rack in the oven about 8 to 10 inches from the broiler. Turn the heat to high. Place the rib pan under the broiler for 10 to 15 minutes, just until the skin gets slightly charred and caramelizes. Remove ribs from the oven, place onto individual serving plates and serve.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Chops

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Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Chops are ready to eat after a day in the slow cooker. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent


  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes, if desired
  • 4 center loin pork chops, bone in
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder

If desired, lightly coat the interior of your slow cooker with olive oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Season the pork chops with the salt, pepper and garlic powder.
In a large measuring cup, combine the barbecue sauce, liquid smoke, soy sauce and hot pepper flakes. Stir until well mixed.

Pour about ¼ cup of the mixture into the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the pork chops into the cooker. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the pork chops.

Cook on low setting for 7 to 8 hours, just until the chops are tender. Remove and serve with additional barbecue sauce.

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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Wings

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Slow cooker BBQ chicken wings. Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.


  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 4 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce, divided
  • Vegetable oil spray

Mix sugar, paprika, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt and pepper together in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Place the mixture in a large plastic, zipped bag or a bowl with a tight-fitting lid.
Place the chicken wings into the spice mix and shake until all the wings are well coated. Transfer the wings to a slow cooker. Pour ½ cup of barbecue sauce over the wings. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place a cooking rack 10 inches below a broiler element and turn the broiler on. Remove the wings from the slow cooker, shake off excess liquid and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the wings with ½ cup barbecue sauce. Place into the oven and broil just until the wings are slightly charred, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the wings over and coat with the remaining barbecue sauce. Return to the oven and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes, before serving.

Donna Evans is a correspondent for the Echo Journal.

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
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