Most people think that you need an expensive smoker and grill setup to make great barbecue at home. You can create the same flavors using the crockpot. It’s also one of the easiest ways to make barbecue with no mess and no fussing over the meat. The trick is placing a heat safe cup in the crockpot with a bit of liquid smoke in it. This helps create the smoky flavor that top chefs like Tim Love and Bobby Flay create.
Start with the Right Meat
Meats that cook for long periods of time need some fat content. It helps prevent the meat from drying out and helps add flavor. Marbling of fat within the meat is important. You should see thin ribbons of white fat in the meat and thicker fat on the outside. Trim thick chunks of fat so that the rest of it naturally renders down during the cooking process.
The ideal amount of fat on the exterior of beef and pork for low and slow cooking is between ¼ and ½-inch in thickness. Any thicker than this and you’ll be left with big pieces of fat on the outside of the meat.
Create a Flavorful Rub
One of the great things about rub is that there is no wrong combination of seasonings. The idea is to pick flavors that complement the meat and enhance its natural flavor. Cumin is often added to rubs as it adds a smoky flavor. Salt, sugar and black pepper are also important ingredients as the sugar helps tenderize the meat. For a spicy element, consider chipotle chile powder or cayenne pepper.
A simple rub can be just salt, pepper and sugar if you wish. It is common to add paprika, garlic powder, ground mustard and onion powder for additional flavor as well.
Don’t use Additional Liquid
One of the biggest mistakes that home cooks make is adding water to the meat in the crockpot. The meat will make its own juices; there is no need to add extra liquid of any kind. Adding liquid causes the meat to boil, which can make the meat tough as it cooks for 6 to 8 hours.
The only time you’ll need to use a grill or broiler is if you wish to have the exterior bark on the meat. Otherwise, the crockpot creates juicy, tender meat that pulls apart with a fork. It helps to apply the rub to the meat the night before so it has more time to penetrate the meat and producing a more intense flavor.