Being vegewarian, I keep meat for holidays and special occasions. Because that’s what vegewarian means – eating mostly sustainable and local vegetarian foods, with meat dishes only once in a while. Here’s one of our typical vegewarian non-meat recipes. With Passover on the way, I’m thinking what sumptuous meat dish to cook.
The problem with “sumptuous” is that it implies other fancy cooking going on at the same time. When I’m moving between stove, sink, and chopping block, and guests are expected and I almost can’t keep track of what’s going on the house – I need a main dish I trust to taste great and not give me much trouble to cook.
That’s when I pull out my slow cooker. In it, beef short ribs sit on the counter top quietly cooking themselves, out of my way and ignored until I lift the top and inhale the delicious, savory odors. This recipe calls for Mediterranean herbs and a touch of sweetness for balance. I like silan, the Middle-Eastern date syrup, but if you don’t have it, a good dark honey works too.
Slow-Cooker Short RibsServes 4May be increased by half or doubled
1 kg. beef short ribs, most of the fat trimmed away: about 8 pieces1 tablespoon olive oil1 large onion1 teaspoon ground sumac4 large cloves garlic4 small-medium tomatoes, or 2 large1 large carrot, peeled and thickly sliced1 large bay leaf1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or a sprig fresh thyme1/2 tablespoon dry rosemary, or a fresh twig about 1” long1 tablespoon silan date syrup or honey1- 1/2 cup vegetable, chicken or beef stock. Or dry red wine.Salt and pepper to taste
Pat the pieces of beef with a paper towel until dry.
Fry the beef ribs in a large skillet, with the olive oil. Don’t crowd the pieces; you may need to do this in two batches. Turn the pieces over as they caramelize.
About halfway through, add the sliced carrot. Let it caramelize along with the beef.
While the meat is caramelizing, prepare the seasonings. Slice the onion and sprinkle the sumac over it. Peel the garlic, but leave the cloves whole. Slice the tomatoes.
Remove the meat to a plate. Let the fat in the skillet cool down somewhat, then pour most of it away, leaving a tablespoon or so in the skillet.
Heat the leftover fat for a few seconds over medium heat and stir the sumac-seasoned onions in. Cook, stirring, until the onions wilt; about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes to the onions. Stir the garlic in. Add the bay leaf. Fry 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
Pour the vegetables into the slow cooker.
Place the meat over the vegetables in the cooker.
Stir the stock or wine in.
Scatter the thyme over all. Tuck the rosemary in the center.
Season again with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook on high for 5 hours. For meat that almost disintegrates in the mouth, cook the short ribs another 2 hours on low. Enjoy!