There’s more than one way to score points when hosting a casual gathering of friends, or in this case, hungry soccer team parents. Likewise, there is more than one way to make delicious barbecue sandwiches, even if time is NOT on your side.
I am fairly confident my hard-wood, slow-fire, barbecue-purist brother is not reading this recipe. I, therefore, feel safe making barbecue beef in my crock pot and bold enough to call it barbecue. I served these sliders to a pre-game posse of hungry soccer parents and observed one dad rubbing a bun scrap around the bottom of the pot. That act alone is enough smoky-sweet justification for publishing this recipe.
The Saline Men’s Varsity High School soccer coach, Brian Lampman (connect the dots) wondered if I could make a few tailgate-styled “munchies” for last night’s soccer game. He seemed particularly enthusiastic when I mentioned barbecue sliders as an option.
Brian is understandably proud of his team’s 11-wins,1-loss, 2-ties record this year, and wanted to honor the senior parents thanking them for their years of support. “No problem”, I smiled, silently wondering how I could possibly find the time to smoke the necessary meat for 40+ sliders and make complementary side salads. Out of the corner of my eye, the glare of my crock pot mocked me as I considered this week’s hectic schedule.
I usually smoke and cook meat for barbecue in my weber kettle (see Aug. 28 dinnerFeed for details). I’ll be the first to say there is nothing like the flavor of slow cooked and smoked barbecue, but those lazy summer weekends have been replaced with a semi-frantic Autumn jive. Making crock pot barbecue allowed me the time to make additional, complementary dishes for this “Saline-Senior-Soccer-Send-Off”.
A crock pot simmer can’t possibly capture the elusive wood flavor from the smoke and coals a grill offers, so I pay careful attention to selecting a superior barbecue sauce. I know Sweet Baby Ray’s is a hit in many circles but I’m partial to Stubb’s. I like the sharp flavor of vinegar and spices used in Stubb’s recipe, reminding me of another favorite, Big Bob Gibson’s, that I can’t find in local stores.
Rack Rack is another excellent sauce–a Sweet Baby Rays and Stub’s flavor hybrid. It’s made in Michigan which merits a “free kick”, in my book. Passions run deep when debating the merits of one barbecue sauce over another. My advise is to use the sauce that you prefer. If your barbecue tastes bland after cooking, zip it up with Worcestershire, garlic and horseradish to taste. Works like a charm!
I was able to fit 7 pounds of seared beef and 8 cups of sauce into my 7-quart crock pot. You may halve or multiply this recipe according to your needs. I have frozen this recipes after cooking with very good results. After it is thawed, I add additional barbecue sauce. If you don’t have a crock pot, follow the directions and simmer roasts in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Cook, covered, on low heat at least 4 hours, adding more liquid as needed, or until meat can easily be pulled apart.
Many of these seniors have played soccer together since elementary school. Bonds have built through the games and through the years between the parents and their kids. These last games of the season are especially poignant and thrilling! Go Hornets!