Cooking is a labor of love. It’s about feeding people, bringing friends and family together and celebrating life. On a typical weekday night, life doesn’t allow the time for a 5-course meal, complete with sides. Generally a quick skillet dish or sauté will do. On the rare occasion, maybe a quick braise or homemade soup. During the week I live for speedy dishes and quick fixes. After a long day of work, I want to cook, eat and be in my pajamas in front of the TV as quickly as possible, before bedtime calls and a new day begins. But when I have time, on weekends or holidays, I like to take my time. Make a sauce from fresh tomatoes, not canned, take the extra time to whip some butter or churn some ice cream. The thing that makes a meal truly special, truly memorable is always in the details.
First I have to apologize for the lack of step by step photos of this recipe. I had no idea it would turn out as good as it did and I was pretty jaded going into the recipe preparation. The recipe was from of my long owned cookbooks, Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two. I’ve wanted get rid of this book on a number of occasions, but really, how often do you find recipes for a slow cooker that serves two rather than a family of twelve? The last time I used this book was at least 3-4 years ago. It was a delicious looking recipe for pork tenderloin with a rhubarb chutney. I prepared the ingredients accordingly, set my crockpot and left for work. When I returned 8 hours or so later, wonderful aromas drew me down the hall to my apartment door. I was hit with the beautiful scent of rhubarb as I turned the key. My mouth watered and I couldn’t get to the kitchen fast enough. When I opened the pot, however, I was welcomed not by a tasty tender piece of pork but a dark, salvageable charred mess. How the char and burnt scent didn’t fill my apartment is still a mystery to me, but that dish still remains my most disappointing cooking experience ever. To walk into the illusion of a perfect meal, only to be slapped in the face by it’s ruins. We had pizza that night and I haven’t touched the book since.
I needed a reason to use my new(ish) 3 1/2 quart Le Creuset (which has since become one of my favorite pots ever) and I had some short ribs about to catch a nasty case of freezer burn in the oven. Last time I made short ribs for a dinner party they turned out pretty amazing. I marinated them in wine and veggies for a day, then tossed the marinade veggies and braised the short ribs with some fresh veggies and the same wine. To finish off, I roasted the final product in the oven for 10 minutes, or so, giving them a bit of crunch and glazy texture. So good. But that was a 2 day recipe. I was just cooking for my husband and me, and unless it’s a super special occasion, like a landmark anniversary or something, a 2 day recipe is not going to happen. And thus my googling brought me to Dan Barber’s Short Rib Recipe.