I love short ribs. I love my slow cooker. Short ribs IN my slow cooker is practically a marriage made in heaven. It was great that it was Thursday – time for a Every(thurs)day Food Magazine recipe and my slow cooker was calling to me -‘It’s cold out now. you know you want to use me today!’
I really am trying to get over my slow cooker phobias. The phobia begins with trying to remember it’s a slow cooker and not a crock pot. Crock pot has such negative connotations that go along with the name. Second, every siren I hear is not my house burning to the ground. I work 8 miles from my home, but across a river, through a tunnel, around a bay, but those sirens are still screaming towards my house as I sit at my desk. And lastly, to all you nay sayers out there, great food comes out of a slow cooker. Are there really frightening slow cooker recipes? No, those would be crock pot recipes. Great recipes come from a slow cooker. Imagine, all the ingredients go in, you set the timer and you walk away and fret all day. When you return dinner is done. Works for me!
My relationship with the slow cooker began when I saw the Kitchenaid 7-Quart Slow Cooker at Macy’s. It was beautiful and sleek and calling my name. Sadly, it was also expensive – $149. A series of events came along that had to be driven by fate – the slow cooker went on sale for $129, I was given a gift card for $100, I had a coupon for 20% and a code for free shipping! So yes, the lovely slow cooker was mine for $3.20. Crock pot haters be damned! I had to have it!
I am so glad I made the leap. There is something wonderful and childhood like when you come home after a long day out in the cold, cruel world and your home smells like dinner. You might need a quick side dish, a salad, a loaf of bread, but the lion’s share of work has been bubbling away all day.
There are now some really great slow cooker cookbooks out there. Among my favorites are The Italian Slow Cooker by Michaele Scicolone Semi-Homemade Slow Cooker Recipes 2 (I can already hear the collective gasps from my foodie friends, but the slow cooker recipes in here are really good), the Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley, and a whole host of recipe by my friends on Contessa’s Kitchen.
Yes, with some recipes there is a bit of prep before things go into the slow cooker. What I usually do is brown or saute whatever needs to be done the night before and put in the fridge. When I get up, I take it out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature while I putter around. Once it’s at room temperature, I continue with the recipe and plug the slow cooker in. I just can’t brown honking pieces of beef when I am half asleep!
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 3 lbs boneless short ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
- 1 large carrot, diced small
- 1 can (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 sprigs oregano or rosemary or thyme
NOTE: Boneless short ribs are not easy to find. If you are in NYC and have access to Fresh Direct, they have them. I also added red wine to this, it just seemed to be calling for it.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. In batches, cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total.
Transfer ribs to a 5-to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour off all but 1 tsp fat from skillet and add onion and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup juice from tomatoes, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from skillet with a wooden spoon.
NOTE: I added a splash of red wine here.
Transfer vegetables and liquid to slow cooker and add tomatoes, breaking them up as you go. Add herb sprigs; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high until meat is fork-tender, 6 hours.
NOTE: I sprinkled in an Italian herb mix instead of the herb springs. I also added a splash (or tw0) of red wine here as well. The easiest way to break up the tomatoes is with a scissor. I stick it in the can and just snip, snip snip. I have a pair in my kitchen that I keep hidden from the ‘others’ who think it’s okay to cut tin cans and rope and heaven knows what else with scissors I use to cut chickens and canned tomatoes!
With a slotted spoon, remove herb sprigs and transfer meat to a cutting board. With a ladle or large spoon, skim fat from cooking liquid (you’ll remove about 1 1/4 cups). With two forks, shred meat and return to cooking liquid. Serve immediately or let cool in liquid and reheat over medium before serving.
NOTE: I didn’t have that much fat to skim off. I served this over polenta. Everyday Food showed it over toasted pieces of a peasant-type bread and over noodles, as well.