Thursday, February 3, 2011

Slow cooker short rib ragu sandwiches

Oh. Em. Gee.  (Yep, I just did it.)  May I please show you what I had for dinner last night?

Slow cooker beef ragu.  And just for me!  No big party or summer picnic, just a warm and hearty meal, enjoyed in the comfort of my apartment away from the blustery cold that has returned to the city of bridges.  And on the perfect night, too, when I wasn't feeling up to cooking and would've settled on cereal had this not been eagerly waiting for me when I walked in the door.  By the end of work yesterday, my sore throat from that morning was still hanging around and I just felt very blah.  Nothing deadly, just a bit unpleasant.  I figured I could either push through a gym session and wear out myself further or take a night off and relax at home.  Guess what I chose.  :)

So I got home nice and early, changed into sweats, and set to fix myself a pre-Super Bowl feast.  If that plate doesn't scream crowd-pleasing football food, I don't know what will!  When I was planning meals for this week, I originally had pasta on my grocery list because it seemed more appropriate for a weeknight meal.  But, when I got to the store, something in me said, "No!  Forget the pasta, get some big fluffy sandwich buns... yeah, those whole wheat ones!  Go big or go home, Kemp!"  Am I glad I listened to my id.  The tender and juicy beef, with chunks of stewed tomatoes, carrots and onions swimming in the juice from the whole shebang?  It soaks into the bun and makes it absolutely to die for.  Kinda reminds me of the moist-maker sandwich  from Friends.

How did all of this come together?  Rather easily, if I may boast.  Because I didn't want to wake up extra early and start cooking beef and onions at 6 in the morning, I completed the first part the night before.  Browned the beef and cooked the vegetables, then put all of it in the pot of the slow cooker, covered tightly with plastic wrap and into the fridge it went overnight.  You know, I'm actually convinced this extra "marinating" step only improved the flavor of the final dish!

In the morning, I simply plopped the bowl into the crock pot and off I went to earn a living as a responsible working adult.  When I came home, a wave of smell hit me as I walked in the door.  Look how fork tender this was!  I didn't have to "pull" the beef as much as I just poked it with two forks:

After returning the shredded beef to the slow cooker, I started thinking how hearty and manly this ragu was.  Thick, juicy, meaty!  One phone call and 30 minutes later, and there was a certain hungry man peering over my shoulder asking when we could eat.  Not that Matt has ever complained about my cooking, but I know there are times when he'd prefer a giant steak to the latest gourmet quiche or creamy soup to come from my kitchen.  Well, here's your reward for being so patient!  And, apparently my reward for taking it easy last night... the sore throat has vanished!  :)  Take it from me -- this will make your Super Bowl party a hit!

One Year Ago: Overnight oats

Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu
(adapted from Everyday Food)
-serves 6

A few notes: If making this for a party, definitely double or even triple the recipe to make sure you have enough to feed all of the hungry guests.  Also, while I didn't do it, I think you could probably skip the browning of the meat and cooking of the vegetables and just throw everything in the slow cooker in the morning.  Let me know if you do this and how it works out!

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 pounds boneless short ribs (or pot roast steak), cut into 3-inch pieces
Ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced small (about 1/2 cup)
1 large carrot, diced small (about 1/4 cup)
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

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 teaspoon fat from skillet, and add onion and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft, 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup juice from tomatoes, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from skillet with a wooden spoon.

Transfer vegetables and liquid to slow cooker and add tomatoes, breaking them up as you go. Add herbs and sugar; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (or 6 hours on high) until meat is fork-tender.

With a slotted spoon,  transfer meat to a cutting board.  With two forks, shred meat and return to cooking liquid. Serve immediately, or let cool in liquid and reheat over medium before serving.

For a party, serve with kaiser rolls or your favorite kind of buns for a hearty warm sandwich.  For a more relaxed sit down meal, serve over pasta -- I love wide pappardelle noodles.

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