Saturday, May 25, 2013

Crock-Pot BBQ Beef

This recipe is a happy-accident-slash-experiment.

First, the accident. It was supposed to be Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Beef. But when I arrived at Trader Joe's, all they had was beef stew meat (feedlot-free beef stew meet, mind you, so I was still buying).

And, the experiment. Caveboy and I are still on our Whole30 and bottled BBQ sauce is a major no-no. 90% have high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient (yuck!) and the other high-dollar-grocery-store BBQ sauces use maple or molasses or some other sweetener in large quantities. Steve's Original has a Paleo Peach BBQ Sauce that sounds amazing. But using that would have required me to plan this meal more than 2 days in advance of cooking it. So I had to turn a BBQ rub into a BBQ sauce.

Not all experiments end in success (trust me, I'm a physicist). But in this case, I'm so happy with the way it turned out! No lie. I want to drink the sauce. It's that good. It is definitely not as sweet as traditional beef BBQ (duh) but it is tangy and zesty and all the other terms you'd use to describe your favorite sauce.

Crock-Pot BBQ Beef

What a pretty and nutritious meal!


3 lb beef stew meat
2 yellow onions, sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups beef stock
1 can tomato paste
5 tablespoons BBQ rub (I used Pork Barrel BBQ dry rub, an impulse-buy from Costco)
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 


Place stew meat pieces into the Crock-Pot. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and then sprinkle on 3 tablespoons of dry rub. Use your hand to combine, ensuring the rub gets on all of the meat.  Add the sliced onion and then pour in the beef stock.  Cook on high until meat is tender. About 3 hours.

Once the meat is cooked, turn off the Crock-Pot and let cool for a few minutes so you don't scald yourself while performing the next steps. Then, with a slotted-spoon, remove the meat from the Crock-Pot and set aside. Leave the juices.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the diced garlic. Cook until it becomes aromatic. Pour the Crock-Pot juices into the skillet and stir to combine with garlic oil.  Whisk in the tomato paste and apple cider vinegar. Season with up-to two heaping tablespoons of dry rub (to taste) and a pinch of salt, and cook until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat.

Return the beef to the Crock-Pot bowl. Pour the sauce over the beef and stir to combine. Makes 8 servings.

Update: One week later...

Bonus Recipe: BBQ Pulled Beef

I loved the recipe so much I decided to see just how great it would taste as originally envisioned. CB was game to be my taste-tester, so I made a special trip to Whole Foods for a roast and pulled my Crock-Pot back down off the refrigerator. The verdict? The pulled beef is even better than stew meat. It transported perfectly in our lunch boxes and reheated great in the microwave. This is going to be a go-to recipe from now on! As CB says, "it's in the rotation."


Simply replace the stew meat with a beef roast, and omit the 3 tablespoons of olive oil when you rub the BBQ seasoning onto the meat. The roast will have a layer of fat on it, providing delicious flavor and eliminating the need for additional oil. Enjoy!

Update: One month later...

Double-Bonus Recipe: BBQ Pulled Pork

CaveBoy rarely makes special requests. So when he asked for my "special" BBQ sauce on this week's pulled pork, I was elated! For one, it means he really likes the recipe. And it means that I get to eat pulled pork, which is pretty-much my favorite BBQ. Well, OK, baby-back ribs are my real favorite BBQ, but I don't have a pressure cooker (yet) so they are not on the menu.


Replace the beef roast with pork roast and - in keeping with the pork theme - saute the garlic in 1 tablespoon bacon grease, instead of olive oil. TahDah!


  1. How did you cook the greens you pictured this with? This whole meal looks really yummy :)

  2. Hi Kati, I'm so glad you like the recipe! You can find my Bacon Braised Greens recipe here: