Baby back ribs are cut from the lower back rib section of a pig's loin. They are meatier and leaner than spare ribs, which come from the belly section. Each rack usually contains 10 to 13 ribs and weighs 1.75 to 2 pounds. Experience the fall-off-the-bone goodness of baby back ribs from a slow cooker with the tips below.
Step 1: Cut ribs into serving-size portions
Using a large chef's knife, cut the ribs into two- to three-rib portions.
Tip: For appetizer-size portions, ask your butcher to cut the ribs in half lengthwise.
Step 2: Add a rub
- Many recipes call for a rub or seasoning mixture to be added to the ribs before cooking. This step is optional.
- Sprinkle each rib section evenly with a spice or herb mixture.
- Rub the mixture into the ribs using your fingers.
Tip: If time allows, apply the seasoning rub to the ribs a few hours before cooking to allow the flavors to soak into the meat.
Step 3: Broil the ribs
- While it's not essential, browning the ribs before slow cooking caramelizes the surface of the meat, adding flavor.
- Place the ribs on the unheated rack of a broiler pan.
- Preheat broiler.
- Broil ribs 6 inches from the heat for about 10 minutes or until browned, turning once.
Step 4: Slow cook the ribs
- Transfer the rib portions to your slow cooker.
- Pour a prepared or purchased sauce over the ribs, as your recipe directs.
- Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3-1/2 hours.
Step 5: Transfer ribs to a platter
Using tongs, transfer each rib portion to a serving platter.
If necessary, thicken the sauce: If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water; stir into sauce. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more or until sauce is thickened. (Cover ribs with foil to keep them warm as the sauce thickens.)