First off, I must confess that this isn’t an original recipe. I stole it….but I stole it from possibly the sexiest Italian chef ever!
Fabio Viviani is seriously adorable! On a random side note he once wrote me a comment on Facebook about Fiat 500s. I did not buy a Fiat, but if anyone could have convinced me it would have been Fabio! Anyway, he used to host a web series on Yahoo! Called Chow Ciao. I think they used to come out once a week? I’m not sure it’s been awhile. I watched them at work because again, he’s gorgeous, and my job is sorta boring. Oh the joys of being underworked and overpaid! One of the first recipes Fabio shared was Braised Short Ribs in a crock pot. These ribs are pretty much the only think I make in my crock pot, but it’s totally worth buying one just to make these ribs!
I used to make these for my ex often because he’s a meat and potatoes sort of guy and he loved them. Plus it was easy to throw everything together the night before. This meant that I could spend time with him after his weeks on the road instead of running around the kitchen. Anyway, before this gets too sappy let’s get on to the food!
The shiz you’ll need:
- Crock pot – I have smallish one but as long as everything fits in it any size should do
- Boneless Beef Short Ribs – I buy packages of “Country Style Ribs.” Buy the biggest packs you can because this makes amazeballs leftovers!
- 1 Dark Beer – I generally use Guinness because I have it at home, but your favorite dark variety will work just fine.
- 1 Can Beef Broth – I buy the larger boxes of stock and then the pupster gets the extra on her crunchies which makes her a very happy girl!
- 1 Medium Onion
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Thyme
- 2 Tablespoons Basil
- A sprinkling of Cayenne Pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Option: Flour and Cornstarch
Alrighty, I could write you up Fabio’s actual version but I’ll give you my hybrid version because:
- You can Google his video yourself….and I think you should. Italian accents all day people!
- I’ve made it multiple ways and I can’t tell the difference between his version and my lazy version. Laziness for the win!
- I make a flourless version lately in case my gluten free bestie wants to come over for leftovers!
Step 1- Sear off your meat!
Heat a couple tablespoons-ish of olive oil in you largest skillet to about medium. You want it hot but not smoking. Generously salt and pepper both sides of all the ribs. If you want to take the extra initiative you would coat the ribs in flour……totally optional. Frankly, searing them off at all is option. They could go directly from the package into the crock pot if you don’t want to dirty a pan. Throw the ribs into the pan and brown them off nicely on all sides. Don’t crowd your pan or they won’t brown nicely! 🙂
Step 2- Prep the Crock Pot!
While your meat is searing off you’ll need to slice your onion and smash some garlic. Whack your onion in half and then slice it up “fajita” style. Break up the rings and throw them into the bottom of the crock pot to make a nice bed for the meat. If you’re using whole garlic cloves just whack them with the broad side of your knife blade a couple times, peel them, and throw them on top of the onions. I had some jarred minced garlic so I used that last time. Whatever kind works just make sure its fresh….you need the flavor.
Step 3- Assemble!
Once the ribs have been seared on all sides, snuggle them down onto the bed of onions. Since my crock pot is small I sometimes really have to squish them in but remember is just cooking. It’s not an exact science so don’t worry about it too much. I never measure anything and everything always turns out just fine! Open your beer and add about half of it. Add beef broth until the meat is nearly covered. Again, the exact measurements will depend on the size of your crock pot. More or less broth or beer won’t hurt anything. Also remember if you’re prepping this in the morning you’ll need to man up and drink that beer. We can’t have any party fouls in the kitchen! Sprinkle in the thyme, basil, and cayenne and add the dollop of butter to the top. Fabio said this “adds creaminess”, honestly I’m not sure it does anything but butter is delicious and never hurt anyone so…..in it goes! If you want to prep everything the night before this is the place you’ll stop. Just put the lid on your pot and put it in the fridge. Unless I’m making them on a weekend I always prep the night before. I love food but I love sleeping more and I’m not about to get up and sear meat at 6am!
Step 4- Braise!
Throw the lid on, set it to low, and let it cook for 6-8 hours. Generally I start mine on my way out the door at 8 and I’ll eat when I get home from work around 6ish. Since it’s braising in all the liquid you really can’t dry it out so don’t worry and just let it cook. When I get home I turn the heat up to high and let the juices start to boil. I’ll stir in a good amount of cornstarch slurry just to let the sauce thicken up a bit. Again, this is an optional step I just feel like it serves a bit better thickened. I don’t ever measure out the cornstarch, I just use heaping spoonfuls at a time until it looks like its starting to thicken and then I let it cook for maybe 20-30 additional minutes while I prep the sides.
Step 4- Serve!
By now most of the onions and garlic will have dissolved into deliciousness and your meat should be falling apart. Time to eat! Typically, I whip up some mashed potatoes and serve them with a rib and a generous coating of sauce. If you’re feeling extra fancy pants you could broil up some garlic bread. So much tastiness on one plate! A green veggie also makes a good side. I usually only ever have frozen broccoli at home but asparagus is also good. I just steam them in the microwave…..by this point I’m HANGRY and laziness always wins.
Truth be told, apparently the exes mother makes an awful pot roast. I never had it but I was there one night when he was discussing it with her. She admitted it so they must be really bad! These ribs are nothing like bad pot roast. Actually, that same evening his mother informed me that he gave me the biggest compliment she’d ever heard him say when he told me that my ribs were better than “John’s mom’s pot roast.” I never had her pot roast either and clearly braised ribs are not enough to hold a crappy relationship together. At the end of the day, none of that matters. What really matters is that a gorgeous Italian taught me how to make braised ribs that will trump a mother’s cooking!