Healthy Cooking Thursday – Crock Pot Barbeque

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You're busy.  I get it.

At our ladies' healthy lifestyle resort, one of the most common recipe requests I hear is ideas for crock pot cooking.  The problem is, I never use a crock pot when I'm cooking at work, and when I'm at home, it's a rare thing for me to write down a new recipe, especially if I'm throwing it together as I sip my morning mug o' joe.  There's a lesson there, for sure…how many delicious recipes have I made and been unable to recapture the second time around?  But this shouldn't always be homework, cooking should be fun!  So I will undoubtedly continue to fly by the seat of my pants from time to time.

This is a fine recipe with which to do so, I might add.  After all, there are many different styles of barbeque sauce, so it's a pretty forgiving medium for practicing the art of seasoning.  You can make it more vinegary, spicy, or sweet and it will still taste pretty awesome.  My version below goes a little easy on the sugar compared to other barbeque recipes, but without sacrificing deliciousness.

If you aren't feeling like putting together the sauce, you can save a little time and use a bottled barbeque sauce with similar results.  I would urge you to look carefully at the ingredients list, however (which I urge for any food you buy, really).  Many barbeque sauces are chock full of sweeteners that are, well, unsavory to me, such as high fructose corn syrup.  Of course, HFCS can also rear its ugly head in your ketchup too, so watch for it there, and hunt for the most "natural" condiments you can find.

Crock Pot Barbeque

first…The Sauce!  Combine in a small pot:

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup tamari, soy sauce, or worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

 Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes.  Set aside.

Add to a crock pot any combination of the items below:
Cooked (or canned) and rinsed black, navy, kidney, pinto, or canellini beans
Turkey (legs work great)
Chicken
Pork (i.e. ribs, shoulder, loin; a little ham or bacon goes a long way with a mostly bean version)
Beef

When using meat, I will usually put it raw directly in the crock pot, but sometimes I will use leftover cooked cuts instead, such as rotisserie chicken, pork roasts, or grilled flank steak (freeze leftovers in summertime to make this wintry treat months later).  Add some of the barbeque sauce to the crock pot (how much depends on how much protein you are cooking, but primarily, you are just providing a flavor base at this point) and an equal amount of water or low sodium stock.  If desired, you could add bay leaves, chopped onion, minced garlic, or chiles as well.  Like I said, this is a fun one to play around with! 

Cook at least 12 hours (less if proteins were pre-cooked) or until the meat is cooked all the way through and starting to fall apart.  Heat the remaining barbeque sauce on the stovetop and use as icing on the cake, so to speak.  Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated for at least three weeks.

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