The start to a new school year means life is more hectic than ever! Sometimes it seems impossible to find time to plan and prepare a nutritious dinner around afterschool sports and other activities.
That’s why I love my crock pot. Your grandmother was on to something, and now that slow cooker is back in vogue. There are lots of fabulous cookbooks with amazing recipes—or check out Crock Pot Girl on Facebook—she has more than 34,000 friends! (Did you know you can make lasagna and even apple pie in a crock pot?)
I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes for Asian Short Ribs, a dish that’s tangy and savory at the same time. It’s yummy ladled over rice, risotto or even mashed potatoes. The salty-sweet sauce takes me back to my childhood, when my mom used to make these ribs in the oven. But this method is much easier and the meat just falls apart as you scoop it up with a fork (or chopsticks!).
The real charm of a slow cooker is that it is so slow. As the ingredients simmer for hours, you long for dinner, just the way you crave a cinnamon roll when you step inside a bakery. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I always think food tastes better when you have to wait for it.
So instead of fast food tonight, why not try some slow cookin’?
1 tsp to 1 tbsp Chinese five spice, depending on how strong you want this flavor
4 lbs beef short ribs with bone
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced into thin slivers
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
⅓ cup plum wine (AJ’s has this)
⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce
⅓ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup sesame oil
1 tbsp chili paste or Sriracha sauce
2 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated (I keep mine in the freezer in a baggie and grate it frozen)
1 orange for juice; peel the zest off with vegetable peeler
¼ cup white sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar dissolved in ¾ cup boiling hot water
1 can stewed tomatoes (14½ oz size)
1 or 2 packages dried whole shitake mushrooms (sold in produce section)
2 thinly sliced scallions (optional)
Season short ribs with five spice, shake off excess. Heat olive oil in heavy pan on medium high heat and brown ribs on all sides, a few at a time (about 10 minutes total, adding oil if needed). Put in crock pot.
Add more oil to hot pan and cook onion and garlic on medium about 5 minutes. Stir in wine and cook on medium high for about 5 minutes to get flavors going. Take off heat and add soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chili paste and ginger. Mix gently and pour into crock pot.
Add stewed tomatoes and the sugar water, orange juice and zest. Toss in the bag of dried whole shitake mushrooms. (They will plump up beautifully like the two pictured in my dish above.) Cover and cook on high for at least 6 hours. Spoon fat off the top and serve with steamed rice, risotto or mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with sliced scallions if desired. Serves 6 to 8.