Whenever I make my sister-in-law’s Sara's crockpot ribs, I think of “Two Mules for Sister Sara.” This 1970’s Western starred Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood and the theme song plays in my head because these are “Sistah Sara’s Ribs."
Too bad I didn’t have this recipe when I met Clint Eastwood (below) while he was filming “In the Line of Fire” at the U.S. Treasury Department in 1992 (where I worked at the time). He might have swept me away to Carmel if I had cooked Sistah Sara’s ribs for him!
I made these last week before Shelby left for China (you can follow her blog, A Jayhawk Abroad, for the full story). They are sticky and sweet and savory and fall-off-the-bone tender. The perfect crockpot rib!
This looks like a lot of ingredients but you probably have most of these in your pantry or fridge (see full recipe below).
You need four pounds of BEEF short ribs; I can never find packages that exactly total four pounds but there is plenty of cooking liquid so if you’re a little over on weight, no worries.
Put the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic or paper bag and combine. Add the ribs in batches; shake to coat and knock off the excess flour as you take them out of the bag. In a heavy skillet, brown the ribs in the butter. I start with half the butter and add more in as I switch out the browned ribs for the un-browned ones.
You’ll want to brown all sides; don’t rush this part, it seals in the juices. Here is my big dilemma with this recipe, do I lay the ribs flat in two layers or do I put them on end in a single layer (bones up)?
I feel like this is something I could discuss with The Pioneer Woman over a cup of coffee and she would feel my “pain.” Guess what, it really doesn’t matter. As I said before, there is enough cooking liquid and they cook down some so put them in however you like.
As the ribs are browned, put them in the bottom of your crockpot and drizzle with honey. The recipe calls for 1/3 cup but I just squeeze the honey bear until they are coated well. While you are browning the batches of ribs, you can get the other ingredients prepped.
I don’t use a lot of gadgets in the kitchen but since this recipe calls for five cloves of garlic, I use my garlic peeler and garlic press. Pop the cloves in the peeler (a silicon tube that looks like a cannoli) and with downward pressure, roll the tube and out comes perfectly peeled garlic (thanks, Adam Kranz). I got my first garlic press after having fondue at the Pillsbury cabin in Lake Tahoe back in 1997. Drop a clove or two in the well, bring the handles together and out comes the minced garlic. Just scrape the garlic off with the end with a knife and pop in more cloves. Chop the onion into small dice. Set the garlic and onion aside. I measure the remaining ingredients into a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup, gently mix and then set aside.
Once the ribs are all browned, I pour off most, but not all of the liquid from the skillet. Toss in the onion and garlic and cook briefly (don’t burn the garlic) then gently pour in the remaining ingredient mixture. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits of BEEF and butter.
Cook over medium high heat until boiling and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture reduces and thickens (about 20 minutes). Pour the mixture over the ribs; cover crockpot with lid and cook on low setting for six to eight hours.
Sweet, sticky, spicy and tender, perfect crockpot ribs! And you can serve the liquid from the crockpot on the side (if you want it thicker, just put in a saucepan and continue cooking until reaching the desired consistency).
Sistah Sara’s Crockpot Ribs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 pounds beef short ribs
1/4 cup butter
1/2 to 1 whole large onion, chopped (I use half an onion)
1 1/2 cups beef broth (I use one whole 14.5 oz. can)
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup honey, more if you prefer
In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add ribs to bag in batches and shake to coat. In a large heavy skillet, brown the ribs in the butter.
Transfer ribs to slow cooker and drizzle with honey. In the same skillet, combine the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook until mixture comes to a boil, stirring occasionally; pour over ribs. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.