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One of the most wonderful things about owning a slow cooker is being able to serve what seem like time-intensive meals during the busiest parts of the week. Instead of relegating roasted chicken and barbequed ribs to weekends, you can enjoy them on a Wednesday night between picking the kids up from practice and rushing off to attend a PTO meeting.
In the spirit of enjoying such meals anytime, I'm offering a simple barbequed ribs recipe this month. You could make it even easier by skipping the homemade sauce and using your favorite bottled sauce -- just use about 1 cup. But, there's something to be said for taking the extra time to make the sauce described below. The unique combination of coffee, tomato, maple syrup and mustard make for a flavor that can't be reached with an ordinary bottled sauce. Besides, this recipe will leave you with an extra cup of sauce on hand for using in another recipe.
In the spring, I like serving this recipe with mashed potatoes (I use red skinned and leave the peels on) and steamed asparagus. Of course, you can choose anything your family craves to complete the meal. With the main course taking care of itself, you'll have enough time to stop and plan the rest of the meal. Whether that means making baked potatoes or tossing together a salad, it means you won't have to be rushed in the middle of the week. Enjoy!
To make the barbeque sauce, combine the first 8 ingredients (coffee through mustard) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue cooking over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the minced onion, if desired, and cook an additional 5-10 minutes or until thickened. Add pepper sauce to taste. Reserve about 1 cup of the sauce for the ribs and set aside the remaining sauce for another use. (I'd suggest grilled pork tenderloin or chicken breasts.)
Place the ribs in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour the reserved barbeque sauce over the ribs, turning to coat completely. Cover and cook on the low setting (#3 on some models) for 7-9 hours or until the ribs are tender. Serve with mashed potatoes and your favorite seasonal vegetables.
Yields: 4 servings
Preparation Time: 20 minutes plus 8 hours slow cooking