Finally, a snow day.
It wasn’t a “turn your pajamas inside-out and hope school’s closed” snow day, but a grown up snow day. A wonderful excuse to stay inside all Saturday, couch-bound with my kindle except for getting up for the occasional wine refill.
While reading the forecast from my desk on a Friday afternoon (a time best used for Internet-browsing and not real working), I stumbled upon this recipe for short ribs from Eat, Live, Run. Meaty (“dude food” as Jenna says on her blog), rich short ribs? Great. In a slow cooker? Perfect. Using nearly a whole bottle of wine? Sold.
I often see short ribs served with mashed potatoes or egg noodles; instead, I opted for the economical choice of purple, smashed potatoes. A bag of delightful, purple potatoes has sadly languished on our kitchen island for the past two weeks so they needed to be used. Although “smashed” potatoes are often just fancy restaurant speak for mashed taters, these are real fork-smashed potatoes. They’re more potato-salad-like in nature. I’m not sure if I’d serve them with short ribs again, but the tangy lemon flavor balanced out the ribs’ fat-laden sauce.
This wine-filled (both in the slow cooker and my bloodstream) snow day needed some health-ify green vegetable action. Nevermind, the cheese, the oil. It’s green, and it counts. I learned this technique from this post on the Kitchn a while back. I’ve modified it to suit my own tastes and time-constraints, but it’s very adaptable. The broccoli collapses into a pudding-like texture, reminiscent of the mayo and Velveeta-packed casserole your Aunt Sue brings for every Thanksgiving. This packs much less guilt and whatever flavors you can imagine. I love using nutritional yeast mixed with some mustard and water for a “cheesy” dish. Today I used parmesan and red pepper flakes. Easy peasy for the next time you declare it’s time for a lazy, “snow” day.
(Lastly, an apology for the iPhone pictures)
Slow Cooker Braised Short Ribs, adapted from Eat Live Run
Perhaps my crock pot runs hot (a poet and I didn’t even know it!), but the timing in Jenna’s recipe didn’t work for me. Even though I want the ribs to seemingly fall off the bone, I’d like some bone there for presentation; otherwise, it’s just a gelatinous mess of meat.
On a different note, this would be perfect for your next dinner party. They reheat well and you can even put them in the oven under high heat for extra crisp. I would skim the fat off the sauce, strain it, and reduce it before serving.
4 lbs. beef short ribs
2 T vegetable oil
2 shallots, minced
4 stalks of celery, diced
2 T tomato paste
.5 t oregano
2.75 c cabernet sauvignon
1.25 c beef broth
3 T brown sugar
1.5 t ap flour
1 T salt, divided
Pepper to taste
Heat vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet or dutch oven over high heat. Generously salt and pepper your ribs. Add short ribs to hot oil, working in batches if necessary so as to avoid over-crowding your pain. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, turning to cook on all sides before placing short ribs in your crock pot.
Remove pan from heat for a minute and drain excess fat, leaving about 1 T of the oil in the pan. Return pan to burner over medium heat. Add shallots and celery and sauté until tender, for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the tomato paste and oregano and mash the mixture into the celery and shallots. Let cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Turn up the heat and add the wine and beef broth to pan and scrape the bottom of your pan with a spatula to get up the tasty, charred pieces from the ribs. After a minute of scraping, add the remaining ingredients, whisking quickly to incorporate the flour. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Pour mixture over the ribs into your crock pot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6.
Royal Smashed Potatoes, slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Why royal potatoes? Because these potatoes are the most divine shade of purple. You could probably skip removing the skins on the potatoes if you don’t mind them, but you won’t get the same, arrestingly deep color.
1 lb purple majesty, or other purple, potatoes, washed
3 shallots, minced
1 stalk celery
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 large lemon
3 T olive oil (use more or less to suit your tastes)
Salt and pepper
Chopped flat leaf parsley
In a large pot, cook potatoes with skins in heavily salted water until fork tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and let cool for a few minutes. While still warm, peel the potatoes. I found this was easiest to do with a quick slit by a knife and using my fingers to massage the potatoes out.
Meanwhile, combine shallots, celery, and garlic in a large bowl with your lemon juice and a large pinch of salt. You could skip this step and mix them together at the end, but I enjoy how the lemon mellows the shallots and celery.
Place peeled potatoes in your macerating vegetable-lemon juice mixture and mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper and parsley.
Non-Casserole Broccoli “Casserole”, inspired by the Kitchn
1-2 lbs broccoli
3-4 cloves of peeled garlic, smashed
Glug of olive oil (I usually use about 1 T but have gotten away with less, and, if we’re feeling indulgent, will add more)
Other seasonings: Red pepper flakes (a pinch), Dijon mustard (no more than 1 t), Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, sliced almonds, breadcrumbs
Cut the crown of your broccoli off from the stems. Peel the stems and slice crosswise, leaving you with coin-sized pieces about ¼ inch thick. Slice in half again if you’re impatient. Cut crowns into broccoli florets. Leave small cloves of garlic whole; slice larger ones in half.
In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, add glug of olive oil and about ¼ c of water. Season with pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add the broccoli steam pieces first, and then the crowns on top. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low to very low. If I have the time, I will let the broccoli cook for about an hour on very low (I usually add extra olive oil for richness). You can also get great results cooking it over medium low for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Once the broccoli has cooked down, into a mush of sorts, add your seasonings