What’s For Dinner? Slow-Cooked Smoked Babyback Ribs


UPC’s Slow-Cooked Smoked Babyback Ribs

I’ve been slowly but surely refining my basic process for cooking up a “Smoked” meat dish, in the comfort of your own home using a slow-cooker or crock pot. I consider these ribs to be the final proof of the process for that. So the good news (other than that I had a delicious dinner, and loved every minute of it) is that I can finally document my “Slow-Cooker Smoked” process and start to build some recipes around it. Keep your eyes peeled for this in the future as I intend to be sharing many of these recipes with you!

As far as this recipe is concerned, you could do this using the “Smoked” process which I will document separately, or you could do these in a more “traditional” slow-cooker process. In fact, this recipe will work well for a grilled meal as well. All you would do is change this recipe slightly to do the final cooking on the grill rather than in a slow-cooker. Also, since a grill is quite a bit hotter than a slow-cooker, the cook time for grilling these will be somewhere in the neighborhood of between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the temperature you use. A higher cook-time will give you a faster turn around. It will also sear the outside of the ribs more, which may be preferable. A lower temperature and longer cook time will encourage the use of sauces and other flavors to change the flavor of the ribs.

Slow-Cooked Smoked Babyback Ribs; What you’ll need:

  • 1 large rack Babyback Ribs
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar (you can use a flavored one too, if you have one)
  • 1 cup water (filtered, please!)
  • Spices: Turmeric, Sage, Sea Salt

Serves: 2 (depending on the size of the rib rack; and how good it is!)
Cook and Prep time: 1.5 days.

1. In a pan or on a griddle, thoroughly brown the ribs on both sides. Do this using high heat – you want the outside to be browned, but you don’t want to cook the meat on the inside much, if any.


See the red showing on the edge of the ribs? Brown the outside quickly, but don’t cook the slab of ribs.

2. Put the ribs, spices, and oil and vinegar in a marinating container and put it away for a day.

3. About 6-8 hours before meal time, dump the ribs and marinade all in to a slow cooker or crock pot and turn it on to low.

4. Serve and enjoy!!


For Grilling:
Instead of slow-cooking for 6-8 hours, slow cook for 1 hour. Then finish cooking on the grill on high heat for 20-40 minutes, brushing the marinade onto the ribs to keep them moist.

To do the “Smoked Slow-Cooked” Version:

  1. BabybackRibs_SmokingPlatformSave the bones from your last ribs in the freezer (or you can buy some bones from your local butcher – most have some for sale; If you buy, I’d cook these up at least once for some Bone Broth first!).
  2. Follow the slow-cooker instructions steps 1 and 2 above.
  3. Before above step 3: Thaw and arrange the bones across the bottom of the slow-cooker so that the meat will be lifted up above the marinade liquid.
  4. Return to the slow-cooker step 3 instructions, though this time drizzle the marinade over the top of the meat several times during the 8-hours of cook time.

This is a fascinating idea that I’ve been playing around with since this post, many months ago. What happens is the marinade will heat up, evaporating the liquids, and will effectively steam the meat slab suspended above it. If that were all that happened, this would be somewhat different than it ends up being. At the same time, the oils in the marinade allow the slow-cooker to over-cook the bones that were left in the bottom of the pan, letting them caramelize and smoke the meat above it. The intentional overcooking of the bones making the smoke, along with the flavors in the marinade, combine to create the same effect as using a smoker, while allowing you to do the whole thing relatively safely in your own kitchen.
As a note on this: I did recently find a crack in my crock pot, and it’s entirely possible that it was doing this that ruined it. Even using the Low heat setting will result in a lot of heat being funneled in to the slow-cooker, and since there’s not a lot of liquid in there to absorb the heat (that’s kind of our intention) it will end up causing the pot itself to heat up quite a lot. Of course, the benefit to this is that the bones on the bottom, since they’re touching the pot, will heat up a lot and smoke the meat. And it’s delicious! On the other hand, I suggest paying extra attention to the crock pot; keep it away from walls and potentially flammable stuff on the counter, and only do this when you’re home to monitor it regularly.


  • Do you like smoked/cured meat?
  • Have you ever smoked your own meat?
  • Will you be trying the slow-cooker smoked meat steps/process that I’ve outlined above?
  • What kinds of meat would you be most interested in smoking?
  • Do you have a smoker? How often do you use it?
  • What kinds of sides would you serve with this meal?
  • What kind of dessert would you serve with this meal?

What’s For Dinner? Slab Bacon and Steak Heaped with Caramelized Onions


Slab Bacon, Steak Heaped with Caramelized Onions, and Avocado

If your mouth is watering just looking at that picture, you’re not alone. As much as I enjoyed the food, looking at it is almost as good – believe it or not! I had had a hard day at work, as had my wife. We were both coming home a bit late; my wife a bit later than me. So, what better way to unwind at the end of a really long day than with some of the most savory of the savory food category? Well, this slab bacon, as I’ve mentioned in my Slab Bacon Bacon Project Post, has been treating me and my wife every bit as well as it did when we first bought it and tried it. Without a doubt, this is the best commercial bacon we’ve had the pleasure of eating.

This meal does very well with additional cook time, so if you know that dinner may be delayed, this is a great meal to allow to simply keep cooking on a lower temperature. It’s a great meal to prepare for dinner parties, allowing the host to let dinner time be socially dictated, rather than when the dinner bell rings (it also allows the friends who got caught in traffic get there and still eat with everyone else!).

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Slab Bacon
  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Rib Eye Steak (can use other cuts)
  • 2 medium Onions, chopped
  • 1 large Avocado
  • Spices: Turmeric, Black Pepper (fresh ground), “Herb De Provence” spice mix

Serves: 2-4 (depending on how hungry you are…)
Cook and prep time: 70 minutes

1. Heat the steak up in a pan on high until the steak is sizzling loudly.

2. Turn the heat down to medium-low, about 3 out of 10, and as soon as the sizzling stops, flip the steak.

3. Put the slab bacon in a separate pan and cook, covered, on medium-low heat, or about 3 out of 10.

4. Add the chopped onions around the steak in the steak pan.
Optional: Using 4-5 medium chopped onions, you can cook them in the bacon pan instead. This will produce leftover caramelized onions for quite a few meals.

5. Spice the steak liberally and cover the pan allowing the steak to cook.

6. Lay the bacon down on a new side every 10 minutes.

7. About 5 minutes before meal time, turn the steak pan up to high heat, take the steak out, and stir the onions thoroughly.

8. Alternately leaving the steak on top of the onions, and stirring, keep the onions cooking and stirring for 5 minutes on high heat.

Now serve and enjoy!


  • What is your favorite dinner-party meal?
  • Which is the “Side Dish” in this meal: the steak, or the slab bacon?
  • Would you use something other than caramelized onions? How would you cook them?
  • How do you and your friends determine dinner time during dinner parties? When the food is ready, or when the guests are ready?
  • What kinds of drinks would you serve with this meal? Any specific brand/year?
  • Is there a difference between friends for dinner parties, and family? Do you cook differently? Do you clean, or set a different table?

Roasted Mushroom Pulled Pork – A Weekend Meal Stash!


UPC’s Pulled Pork

The weather last night was icky, cool, and wet. Naturally, that made it perfect for me to go out and play in the rain!! And, of course, while I was playing in the rain, I was attempting another one of my “What’s For Dinner?” meals in the kitchen. As I’ve mentioned before, not every experiment ends in delighted success. On occasion, I cross the line a bit in my attempt for new and exciting flavors, and end up trying something that just simply doesn’t work. At least, according to me.

Last night I tried something that simply didn’t work.

What was it? I hope you’re asking with baited breath; heightened anticipation. Well, whether you are or not, I’m going to share. Right now. Well, after telling you that I’m going to share.

Almond Butter Coconut Steak.

As they say on TV: “Folks, do not try this at home.” I did, and it didn’t work. Take it from me, this is not a good idea. Of course, I’m not finished experimenting. That’s part of what I do. I’ll likely try something similar on chicken next; I think the flavors will mix better. And after trying it on chicken, maybe I’ll spice it heavily with some smoked habanero peppers, and see if it works better with steak and seriously hot peppers… And maybe I’ll… Well, anyway, I’ve got more ideas, and I’ll get to the bottom of how to combine those flavors deliciously. But last night, they were not delicious…

Roasted Mushroom Pulled Pork; What you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs Pork Loin Roast (at least 2 lbs; more works better!)
  • 1 lb Mixed Organic Mushrooms (this will work just as well with quartered crimini mushrooms)
  • 4-6 Organic Carrots
  • Spices: I used Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Italian Seasoning; use your favorite meat seasonings

Serves: 2 people, for several meals
Cook and Prep time: 6+ hours

1. Evenly spread the whole carrots across the bottom of a crock-pot or slow-cooker.

2. Place the pork roast carefully on the top of the carrots, making sure that the carrots are still fairly evenly spread across the bottom of the pot.

3. Spice the meat, add the mushrooms to the pot by spreading them evenly around the meat, and cook on a low setting (mine just has high and low; I use low) for at least 6 hours. You can continue to cook this for as many as 8-10 hours, as desired.

4. After 6+ hours of cook time take a fork and a set of grilling tongs and carefully pull the pork apart. To the limits of your patience, the smaller chunks you manage to pull the pork apart in to, the more “pulled” your end product will be!
Note: This step can be done at 6 hours of cook time, and you can continue to cook afterwards, if you’re available at that time. Alternately, you can do this just before serving the dish as well.


  • What are your favorite spices to use on a Pulled Pork dish?
  • Have you had some epic gaffes in the kitchen lately?
  • Are you interested in seeing some non-food products that I make as well? Examples: Jewelry, face cream, art… And if so, how much would you like to see me intersperse non-food items in this entirely-food-related blog?
  • Did you notice the topic of discussion yesterday, and did you have thoughts that you didn’t have a chance to share?

What’s For Lunch? Pulled Pork and Avocado Salad


UPC’s Pulled Pork

I really enjoy pulled pork. I like the beef and chicken versions of the dish too: Shredded Beef, and Jerk Chicken (as well as all of the other names for those dishes). It’s flavorful, easy to eat, and easy to re-use as a portion of another dish! Not that I often have much in the way of left overs… But when I do, a pulled pork is just about as easy to use as cold-cuts. Actually, I think it’s easier!

UPC’s Pulled Pork; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Pork Roast (or more if you want left-overs)
  • 1 Pear, finely chopped (I think bosc is best for this recipe; but any variety should do the trick!)
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Raw Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper, at least 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon Sea Salt

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook Time: at least 6 hours

1. First thing in the morning, put the roast and ingredients in a Crock Pot or slow-cooker.

2. Cook on low heat for the morning, at least 6 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before meal time, check for tenderness. The Roast should be fully cooked, and very tender.

4. About 10 minutes before meal-time, prepare the side salad.

5. About 5 minutes before meal-time, take the pork out of the slow-cooker and pull it apart using tongs and a large serving fork.

And enjoy!!


  • Do you do a pulled-pork (or chicken or beef) often?
  • How do you like to spice yours? What spices and added vegetables/fruits do you like to use?
  • Do you make enough for left-overs? How do you use your left-overs?

What’s For Dinner? Slow-Cooked Ground Beef with Caramelized Onions and Apples on a Bed of Arugula, with Avocado


I just read Mark’s Daily Apple’s daily post from yesterday on my commute in this morning. It is an amazing article on pork production quality, and how to find your way through the haze of marketing claims made by the various pork producers. I will shortly be updating my Bacon Project page with this article so that it’s available for anyone and everyone to know why I am so meticulous about the source of bacon that I buy for my own consumption. Interestingly, the article specifically discusses Niman Ranch, which is one of the bacons that I bought. It mentions that, while they do a better job than CAFO, they’re not the level of quality that I personally strive for in my pork products, nor what most of their consumers are likely expecting when they buy from Niman Ranch. Similarly, the article discusses a farm in Vermont. As you all know, I am completely enamored with the Vermont Smoke And Cure products, so it was great to see the writer of the article point out another Vermont farm which does a top-quality job with their pork. I will definitely be looking for Sugar Mountain Farm products, as well as Tendergrass Farm products in the future!

Here it is: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-you-should-know-about-pork-production-claims/

Slow Cooked Grass-Fed Ground Beef in Caramelized Apples and Onions, served on a Bed of Arugula, with Avocado on the Side.

My wife and I got home last night at around the same time. The usual “What do you want for dinner?” dance ensued, and we finally settled on ground beef. Since we were heading outside to get in a workout, I put the 1-lb of ground beef in a pan with 1 large red onion and a large apple, and turned it on to “Simmer” or about a 2 out of 10. We headed out for our workout, leaving the ground beef and the “flavorings” to cook slowly, stewing in their own flavors and juices. When we came back we were greeted by the most amazing smell in the apartment! Our appetite, already stoked by the workout, was absolutely roaring by the time we had taken off our shoes!

GroundBeefWithCaramelizedRedOnionsAndApples1What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Frozen Grass-Fed Ground Beef
  • 1 large Organic Red Onion (also called “Spanish Onion”)
  • 1 large Organic Apple (I used Fuji; but most of the “Crisp” varieties will do nicely)
  • Turmeric and Fresh Ground Pepper for spices
  • Arugula
  • 1 large Avocado

Serves: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

Put the frozen ground beef in a pan. Turn the pan on to “high” while you cut up your onion, getting the beef slightly seared on the bottom. Once the onion is sliced up, reduce the heat to “Simmer” and loosely pack that around the beef, making sure that the bottom of the pan is mostly covered by the onion and beef. Now season the beef with turmeric and ground pepper. With the onion in the pan, you can chop the apple up in to approximately 1/2 inch cubes, and sprinkle them around on top of the onions, letting a few apple cubes fall onto the beef as well. Now cover this and leave it for at least 60 minutes.

The slow-cooking process for any meat is a great way to fill the meat with the flavors you’re adding to the cook-pot (or pan). If you want the meat to taste sweet, add sweet things. I often use apples for this since they’ve got a great sweetness without a terribly high sugar content. If you want the meat to taste spicy, add spicy things.
As I discovered last night, using ground beef (this would work just as well with ground pork, chicken or turkey as well) increases the amount of flavor that the meat will absorb tremendously! And the combination of the red onion’s sharp flavor, along with the caramelizing that it did on the bottom of the pan (the bottom of the pan was all onion or beef, the apple was all at the top of the pan), with the sweetness of the apple was an incredible combination! Adding those in with the beef was divine, and a recipe I will certainly be doing again, and often!

When you get back from your workout, or whatever you’ve been doing for the last 60 minutes, take a spatula and break up the ground beef. The slow-cooking process does nothing to separate the beef out in to the small chunks that most people prefer. So if you don’t use your cooking utensils to do this, it will serve more like a steak than ground beef. Which is fine, but not the texture and presentation that my wife and I were looking for in this meal. We wanted something we could “sprinkle” over arugula for a meal; and ground beef was just the thing, this recipe in particular!


  • Do you have any personal favorites that you do with ground beef?
  • What kinds of special, non-standard ingredients do you use?

What’s For Dinner? – Slow Cooked Pork Loin, Cumin Roasted Carrots, Avocado


Plus a bonus: a quick guide on making Bone Broth, and one of the things that you can do with it.

How often do you have a really tough day? I mean, the kind of day that makes you want to throw your baseball cap on the floor, step on it, and spit at the ref? Think about that for a second… Now, how many of those really tough days do you know about before they’re going to happen? Be honest. I’ll bet the answer is more than you really want to admit. Certainly not all of them, but plenty. Well, I have days like that too. And I see most of them coming a week away; and a good portion of the rest I get at least a day’s warning on. They’re not that hard to spot! If I pay attention, I can even catch the signs that a rough day is on it’s way before it full sets in. Now, let’s also be honest: there’s not much you can do to stop a rough day from happening, right? But there is something that you can do to cope with it.

Today’s post is all about my personal coping mechanism for a rough day. When I know a rough day is coming on, I throw some meat in the slow-cooker, spice and add ingredients, and set it for a long, slow cook. There is nothing that picks me back up after a long hard day than coming home to that amazing smell of slow-cooked meat, vegetables, and the right combination of spices. And then, after the weight is lifted off my shoulders by that heavenly smell, I get to sit down for a meal with it! And let me tell you: this really sets me back to calm, cool, relaxed, and happy. It’s as relaxing as a nap!

What you’ll need:

  • 2lb Pork Loin Roast (can be bigger!)
  • Slow cooker or crock-pot
  • Bone Broth
  • Water
  • Carrots
  • Cumin
  • Coconut Oil
  • Avocado

I have a personal cutoff of 1 hour of cooking per pound of meat cooked in order to call it “Slow Cooked”. So if you’re only cooking a 1 lb steak, you have to cook it for a full hour to be able to call it slow-cooked. This is important, because the cooking style and ingredients that you would use are drastically different when you’re stretching the cook time of a 1lb steak out for a full hour. I mean, seriously, we can finish cooking a 1lb steak in 10 minutes! Why do we need to let it take a whole hour? And the answer, of course, is because slow-cooked food is different! And sometimes different is better.

For Crock-Pot meals, I extend that to about double: it’s not really done until it’s been in the pot for at least 2 hours per pound of meat. So for a 2lb pork loin roast, I’ll cook that for no less than 4 hours. That means that I have to be very careful with my ingredients – a lot can go wrong when you’re cooking a 2lb roast for 4 hours!

Here’s how I did it:

I’ve been working on some bone broth for a little while now. As any of you who have made bone soup knows, this can be a fairly long and time consuming process! Fortunately, mixed in a little along the way, it’s also a perfect opportunity to make some stewed meat!

Making Bone Soup: Buy some of your favorite cuts of grass-fed beef, with the bones in. Eat the beef, and that same night, boil the bones in some water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for an hour, or so, then put them in a freezer container, and freeze them. Repeat this process until you have a solid 2 liters worth of bones in water (all frozen now). Now you’re ready for bone broth. You may want to save up more bones in water if you’re using a larger crock pot or slow cooker.

Put all the frozen bones in a crock pot or other slow-cooker, add water until it’s at least 2/3 full. Add sliced celery to the stock, and turn it on to a low-boiling setting and let it cook all day. Depending on how you like your bone broth, you may choose to take it out at the end of one day and throw away what hasn’t dissolved yet. I think that there’s way too much goodness inside the actual structure of the bones themselves to throw them away, and I will keep cooking this for several days until I can break down the actual bones in to something edible. And boy does this make a tasty base for all sorts of things! As a note: I renew the water daily while the broth cooks.

At some point, after you’ve started your Bone Broth, you may be looking for that sweet comfort food that stewed meat can be at the end of a long day. When that happens, just pop a roast in with the bone broth, add some spices on top of the roast, and let it cook along with the bone broth for the day. This will be ready for you whenever you return home, and delicious!

When you get home, go ahead and throw some sliced carrots, a cup of water, and cumin in a pot on the stove. Let this cook at a rolling boil for several minutes, uncovered, so that the water will evaporate off. As the water evaporates, add about 1/2 tablespoon of Coconut oil per carrot (so for 2 carrots, use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil) and stir the carrots up. Once the water is mostly boiled off, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let this keep cooking on low until you’re ready to eat.


Serve the carrots and avocado first. Once you’re ready to plate the meat, get out a pepper grinder, some Italian seasoning, and some sea salt. Using tongs (the meat will be very tender) pull the meat out of the slow cooker and put it on the plate. Sprinkle the spices over the meat lightly, and serve hot. And enjoy!


  • What is your go-to comfort food when you know you’re going to have a rough day?
  • Do you have a different comfort food if the rough day sneaks up on you?
  • What about your comfort food really makes you relax? Is it a reminder of your childhood food? Something else?

Crock-Pot Smoked Beef – First Try!


This has been a LONG TIME COMING! I first stumbled on this a while back, and wrote about it. I accidentally left a pork-roast in the slow cooker all day without any of the normal water-adding ingredients to help it cook properly. I came home, smelled the smoke, and immediately realized what I had done. Fearing the worst, I looked in to my slow cooker to find a wonderful gift waiting for me! It turns out, I did leave something in the slow cooker to mitigate the direct heat on the pork roast: I left Beef Short Rib bones, which I had expected to add their valuable nutrition content to the stewing process. Instead, they crisped slowly, giving off a slow-burn of smoke and water vapor to “smoke” the pork roast. And it was amazing!

I inadvertently did it again a week ago when I left the kitchen to make a “quick update” to one of my posts while cooking. I had a handful of carrots underneath some steak, cooking on a low temperature. Well, my “quick update” ended up taking more than an hour, and I completely forgot about the food! I know, it’s embarrassing… But even Chefs make mistakes! Trust me when I say: we don’t get every recipe right every time. We just have the dedication, perseverance, and passion to keep trying after we mess something up! Well, when I finally got back to my food, the carrots were crisped, but the beef had a delicious smoked flavor – it was amazing!

But this time, I did it completely on purpose! Here’s what I did:

  • 8 Beef Short Rib Bones
  • 2 lb Beef Shank Steak (grass-fed, of course!)
  • 1 inch Ginger, finely sliced
  • 1 Apple, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Black Pepper (thick coating)

PulledSmokedBeef-PreCookedGingerI arranged the short-rib bones on the bottom of my crock-pot so there was a fairly even surface across the top. I wanted to ensure that as the shank steak started to cook, it wouldn’t sag down to the base of the crock, gaining direct access to the heat. I want as much of the heat as possible to go in to the bones, causing them to crisp and release their smokey water vapor to slow-cook the beef in.

On top of the bones, I spread the sliced ginger out, giving an even coverage. This is important. Ginger is an amazingly versatile spice, and can add some of the extra flavoring that you might normally expect from a smoked meat. It gives it some of that smokey flavor in the sharp spicy flavoring of the ginger. Also, it will help to retain some of the water content in the meat, so that it cooks off the water more slowly.

PulledSmokedBeef-PreCookedApplesOn top of the ginger, I spread out one layer of the apples. As you can see from the picture, I’m not terribly concerned with the bone portion of the shank steak – it’s the meat that I want to ensure proper moisture to. In a smoke-house, this is done by adding water to the smoke, but in a crock-pot or slow-cooker, you don’t have the space to really play with the smoke. Or, at least, I don’t yet have the experience to design the cooking-process like that. Soon, though, I hope! Anyway, the apples helped a LOT!

PulledSmokedBeef-PreCookedPepperI added the coconut oil in two discreet gobs on each steak. Location, in this, is essential! I carefully placed the coconut oil where it is so that as it melted, it would have a lot of surfaces to work with before draining off the side of the beef. As I said: location is key. The more work it has to do to drain off the beef, the longer it will be there adding it’s flavor and moisture back in to the beef during the cooking process. I’m not making jerky here – so I don’t want my final product to be all dried out. I want it cooked, but smoked! Finally, the spicing.  Using a pepper grinder, I applied a thick layer of pepper over everything. That black-pepper flavor is one of the key ingredients in replicating a smoked meat!

PulledSmokedBeefThe results?

I loved the final product. The beef was delicious, full of flavor, and moist enough to really enjoy! I haven’t decided yet if it was a good thing or a bad thing that it fell apart when I tried to take it out of the crock. I ended up pulling it mostly apart and serving it like a “Pulled Beef” dish. Perhaps the cut of beef is important here? But the flavor and texture were spot on, and it steamed away on my plate as I looked at it. There is definitely more work to be done. This, as much as I enjoyed both the process and the results, is definitely not a finished product. But I have succeeded in starting the process. And the final product, whenever I manage to get there, will be excellent!!

Here is what I’ve learned:

  1. There needs to be water in the process (somehow) for this to work.
  2. The success of this attempt notwithstanding, somehow I need to make something in the crock pot thoroughly crisp. And I have to select that something with care.
  3. I can’t wait to try again!!!


  • Have any of you ever done anything like this?
  • What are your results? Do you have suggestions on my process? How about flavoring?
  • Which cuts of meat do you generally try to us? Does cut matter for the final product?

I look forward to your responses! And I hope all of you go ahead and try something similar to this – it was an experience worth the effort! And the final product was definitely tasty!