Monday, March 6, 2017

Slow-Cooker Beer-Braised Short Ribs

Recipe from Cooks Illustrated
Husband-Tested in Ellen’s Kitchen (Alice’s Friend)
Serves 4-6

Recently, my good buddy, Ellen, invited me to spend a weekend with her.  She’s a terrific cook and always serves up wonderful meals when I visit.  Her husband is a meat and potatoes man.  Since he was in attendance for this particular meal, Ellen made this fabulous rib dinner.  She began this rib dish on the first morning, browning the ribs and prepping them in the slow cooker.  When they were finished cooking, she put the ribs in the fridge overnight so that she could scoop off the unwanted fat from the cooking liquid before serving.  She served the ribs with the succulent sauce with mashed potatoes and steamed carrots along with Beet and Apple Salad.  Next time you have special guests, do make these make-ahead ribs.

5 pounds English-style beef short ribs (6-8 ribs), trimmed of excess fat
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 (12 ounce) bottles dark beer (The dark beer creates a sauce with a lot of personality.)
2 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca (The tapioca will thicken the sauce as it cooks.)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, divided
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
12 pitted prunes (The prunes will melt away over the long simmering time, adding color and deep, complex flavor to the sauce.)
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Season the rubs with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add half the ribs, meaty side down, and cook until they are well browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn each rib on one side and cook until well browned, about 1 minute.  Repeat with the remaining sides.  Transfer the ribs to a slow cooker insert, arranging them meaty side down.  Repeat with the remaining ribs. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of fat from the skillet.  Add the butter and reduce the heat to medium.  When the butter has melted, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 25 to 30 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook, coating the onions with the tomato paste, until the paste begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the beer; bring it to a simmer, and cook, scraping the browned bits from the pan, until the foaming subsides, about 5 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the tapioca, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon thyme, soy sauce, and prunes.  Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker insert with the ribs. Set the slow cooker on low, cover, and cook until the ribs are fork-tender, 10 to 11 hours.  (Alternately, cook on high for 4-5 hours.) Transfer the ribs to a baking dish and strain the liquid into a bowl.  Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, use a spoon to skim off the hardened fat from the liquid.  Place the short ribs, meaty side down, and liquid in a Dutch oven and reheat over medium heat until warmed through, about 20 minutes.  Transfer the ribs to a serving platter.  Whisk the mustard and the remaining teaspoon of thyme into the sauce and season with salt and pepper.  Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the ribs.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve, passing the remaining sauce separately. 

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