Now that the cooler air seems to have permanently moved in (sigh), my body craves the heartier foods I’ve gone without all summer. But just because it’s no longer ideal for outdoor cooking, doesn’t mean I want to spend hours over the stove (or have the time to do that). That’s why I love my slow cooker.
It’s a simple Crock Pot. Nothing fancy or expensive. As long as you have a setting that keeps it warm after the cooking time is over, you’ll be good.
While I realize that a slow cooker may conjure up notions of family dinners, striking fear in the hearts of those cooking for one. But don’t let the size of the pot scare you away. I usually cook for myself most weeknights, so I always take that into consideration when developing my recipes. In fact, you can easily halve or double the portions for almost anything depending on what works for your life. (Some people love leftovers; others can’t stand to eat anything that’s been in the frig overnight.) But never be afraid to cook for one, even if there are multiple steps or the pot seems large. You’re always worth the effort.
This tasty and easy short rib dish is great for one (or two, or three or four). It’s quick to prep. You can even get it ready the night before. Plus after it cooks all day, when you get home and open the door, you’re greeted by an amazing aroma that fills the house. And if you live alone, that’s always comforting.
You can use whatever liquid is on hand for the broth and play around with the ingredients that flavor it. Just make sure to have enough vegetables to put the meat on top of and enough liquid to cover the vegetables. Sometimes, I’ll use red wine, a little beef stock, onions and dried fruits (apricots, cranberries) along with a can of tomato paste to thicken it. Or I might make the beef spicier, like a tagine, instead of savory. You can really experiment with short ribs.
But the key to making them delicious is not what you end up putting around or on the meat — it’s the quality of the beef. You don’t need expensive, organic, grass-fed short ribs. In fact, they’ll be too lean and not as flavorful. And don’t bother buying anything that is mostly bones. Try to find ribs that are thick and meaty, but not too fatty. Even my cheap, local supermarket (Pioneer) will have decent cuts and often at $3.99/lb. When they do, I’ll stock up and put some in the freezer to try a different recipe the next time I get a craving for short ribs or make extra and use the meat for a ravioli filling. Experiment for yourself and let EDA know your favorite way to make short ribs.
Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs
1 lb of beef short ribs (about 4)
2-3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, thinly diced
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 peppers (1 can be spicy if you prefer), coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 1/2 cups of liquid (beef or chicken stock or coffee)
1 bottle of beer
Freshly ground black pepper
A few handfuls of fresh herbs, coarsely chopped (parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary)
Generously sprinkle the short ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown the short ribs in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil for about 4 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side. Set aside.
Add all the vegetables, onion and garlic to the slow cooker. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand in whatever combination, just make sure you have enough to cover the bottom of the pot. (Note: I used one hot pepper with seeds and that made this very spicy, but it’s up to you.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Then place the browned meat on top of the vegetables. (You can brown the meat and prep the veggies the night before. Keep separate. Then add to the pot in the morning.) Pour the beer over the meat and vegetables and then add whatever liquid you want to use (I used some leftover snickerdoodle flavored coffee). Just make sure it covers the veggies. Sprinkle with fresh herbs of your choice and more salt and pepper. (See the picture in the text before the recipe.) Place the lid on top and and do not open.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours (the longer it cooks, the better). Then remove the meat (watch for bones falling out). You can pour the juices over the meat, make a gravy with the juices by adding some flour mixed with water to thicken it, or even puree the veggies with some juices (there shouldn’t be too much grease unless the ribs were fatty).
Serve over some creamy polenta, mashed potatoes or pureed cauliflower or parsnips (the no-carb substitute for mashed potatoes). Add some sauteed spinach or other greens for a complete meal. (Note: I may omit the starch and just eat more meat when I’m cooking for one. Portion size is up to you.)
To drink: have a fig-infused peppercorn syrup cocktail or a pumpkin beer to celebrate the changing seasons.