4 1/4 lb pork short ribs
for the barbecue sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 apricots, pitted
1 cup diced strawberries
8 oz tomato paste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
freshly ground black pepper
Place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender (I used my Vita-Mix) and pulse until smooth. If necessary, cut the short ribs in half to fit into your slow cooker. Broil until lightly browned on each side. Drain off excess fat. Place the onions in a single layer along the bottom of a oval four or 6 quart slow cooker. Top with the ribs and then pour the sauce over top. If the ribs are cut in half, place one layer on top of the onions then pour half of the sauce on top. Add the remaining ribs and remaining sauce. Cover and cook on low 8 hrs.
I know when one hears “slow cooker recipe” one normally thinks of winter-friendly hearty soups and stews but when I was writing my slow cooker cookbook last summer, I realized how much I liked using it in the warm weather. We live in an older (1930s) house without central air conditioning and only have one window unit so the kitchen gets pretty hot once warmer weather hits. Using the slow cooker allows me to cook without heating up the kitchen at all.
I like to cook using seasonal, local produce so I started experimenting with using summery ingredients like berries and vegetables in my slow cooker recipes. For this recipe I made a barbecue sauce that is naturally sweetened with fruit to go over budget-friendly pork short ribs. The ribs can be a little fatty so I cut off some obvious fat and broiled them to remove even more which meant the final dish was pretty lean. Strawberry barbecue sauce sounds a little odd but it totally works; it is slightly hot from the pepper and has a fruity sweetness without being a really sweet sauce. It is pretty thick, which good for slow cooker recipes, you don’t want it running off the meat when it cooks. I planning on making the sauce again and using it on something else.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, try cooking it slow and low in the oven.