July 21, 2008

Slow Cooker German Short Ribs

The birthday dinner surprise went very well, and the main dish turned out delicious. The gravy was amazing. We had some leftover after everything was packaged up and put away, and I literally ate two spoonfuls of just the gravy. Greg just shook his head. Apparently, eating gravy straight out of the crock pot was not one of my most attractive moments. Oh well, it was worth loosing some points on the classy scale.
I bought some good-looking beef short ribs a while back at Costco, but I was waiting for the right time to cook them. Tonight was the night. Short ribs are great for long, slow cooking or braising. They have a good mixture of fat and meat, and they respond well to rich sauces. I like to save them for special occasions, because the need a little bit of extra attention. If done properly, they taste absolutely decadent. We first fell in love with the short rib on our trip to Hawaii this past April. We ate at a swanky, James Beard award-winning restaurant in Honolulu called Alan Wong's Hawaii. I ordered the tasting menu, and I was lucky enough to have beef short ribs as one of my courses. The rest is history. Needless to say, I buy them whenever I can find them. Please note that it is important to get the bone-in short ribs to get the full benefit of flavor. I have tried the boneless variety and I was less impressed with the final outcome. If you are gonna try these, make them with bone-in and you will not regret it. They usually finish out so tender the bone just falls out anyway.

I found this recipe on the allrecipes website. Allrecipes is a spot that I frequent often when I need an idea for an ingredient. I just type in what I want to use in the search field, and a list of recipes with that featured item pops up. The nice thing is that you can sift through the list by user ratings. This recipe that I found for short ribs was rated 4 out of 5 stars and did not disappoint. I served this with my homemade garlic mashed potatoes and zucchini sauteed in a red wine reduction. This meal was terrific.

Slow Cooker German Short Ribs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black
3 pounds beef short ribs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice onion, sliced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chili sauce
3 tablespoons packed brown
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water

1.In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons flour, salt, and pepper. Coat the short ribs with the flour mixture.
2.In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown short ribs in olive oil.
3.In a slow cooker, combine onions, wine, chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and chili powder. Mix thoroughly. Transfer the short ribs from the skillet to the slow cooker.
4.Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.
5.Remove ribs, and turn the slow cooker control to High. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour with 1/4 cup water, and stir into the sauce. Cook for 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

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Jen's Notes:
I made only a few deviations from this recipe. The first was out of necessity. I did not have any chili sauce on hand, so I had to wing it. I made my own chili sauce, and it turned out really good. I don't think I will buy the bottled stuff ever again (recipe below).
Also, I added a little bit of beef stock to the party...but not very much...maybe only 1/4 to a 1/2 cup total. I was not sure if the liquid was going to be sufficient, so I played it safe by adding the beef stock.
For the 3 tablespoons vinegar: I used 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar. Again, this change was necessary since I was low on white vinegar; I just supplemented with the white wine vinegar.
My slow cooker runs hotter than most, so 4 hours on low was sufficient enough cook time for me. I find with crock pot recipes, it is best to shoot for the low end of the recommended time and check it often. I tested the meat after 4 hours and it was done perfectly.
Finally, I want to let you know that despite the spices in the Chili Sauce, this recipe is not really spicy. The chili sauce lends a complex flavor, but not overly spicy. See...I don't make everything spicy...just most things.

Jen's Chili Sauce (no measurements):
To 1/2 cup of ketchup add the following spices:
salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and Tabasco.

Stir to combine. Add a little spice at a time and taste as you go along.

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