Monday, September 10, 2012

Braised Short Ribs: Food Lovers Kitchen Style

Recently, I had the opportunity to buy a 25 pound share of a grass fed cow through ATX Meat Share.  This group offers shares of grass fed meat from ranchers in the central Texas area.  This particular share was special as it came from a family ranch that doesn't even use pesticides on the grass that their animals graze upon, so this is about as clean of beef as your going to get. You don't get to choose the cuts you get, but there was a good variety in 1 pound increments.
I was excited to have gotten one pound of short ribs.  I decided to give this recipe from Food Lovers Kitchen a try.  I tried to find a recipe outside of my usual recipe sources, but I thought this recipe lent itself best to being made with less meat than stipulated by the recipe.

I started out by cooking some bacon in my cast iron skillet.  While it cooked, I smashed 8 cloves of garlic with the bottom of a glass.
Take that, Garlic!

Once the bacon looked crispy, I set it aside.    I poured most of the bacon fat into a glass jar I keep for this purpose.  

Glorious Bacon!
With a little bacon fat still in the skillet, I browned my ribs on both sides.  The recipe said two at a time, but my ribs must be smaller, as three seemed to fit just fine without crowding the pan.  I did not need to add more grease to the pan, but if I had the full 2.75 pounds of ribs called for in the recipe, I may have.

I mixed the paprika and chipotle powder in a little bowl using half the amounts called for as I had just under half the amount of ribs.  I placed the ribs in my crock, and layered the spice mix, salt, pepper, garlic, and ribs as directed in the recipe.  
One layer complete

Naked ribs!

My 1 pound of ribs gave me two layers.  I crumbled two of the bacon pieces on top of the layers.  The recipe calls for three and I cooked three, but as I crumbled, two seemed sufficient.  Do not worry, the third piece of bacon was not wasted.

Two layers of ribs with bacon crumbles.
I pulled some of my homemade beef broth from the freezer and heated up 3/4 of a cup of it and added it to the crock pot with the ribs.
Convenient Broth Cubes
Broth Bath.

I set the crock pot for six hours on high.

After six hours, I opened up the crock and this is the result.  This picture doesn't do it justice really, but I was in a hurry as I had a hungry dinner guest.  I plated the ribs with some roasted brussels sprouts.  
I hope they are done!

Looks good!

Accessibility and Cost of Ingredients: I've not shopped for short ribs, so I really have no idea on how accessible they are or what they cost at the grocery store, big box or otherwise.  My 25 pound meat share was $175, so these high quality ribs cost me $7.00.  High quality bacon is a little on the expensive side at the "natural" grocery store, but worth it.  The remaining ingredients I had in my pantry, but all can be found at the big box grocery store.

Prep/Cook Time:  The recipe lists a 20 minute prep time.  I set my stopwatch and I had just over 20 minutes when I set the timer on the crock pot.  Obviously, if you have the full 2.75 pounds of ribs to prepare, your prep time will be longer.  I cooked my ribs for 6 hours.  I wouldn't shorten the cooking time.

Clean Up:  As I used my cast iron skillet, I had to re-season it after cleaning it up with some salt.  If you don't have a cast iron skillet, I don't think its essential.  I think the only pan you'd not want to use for this is a nonstick pan as you wont get a good brown on the meat.  Everything, except for my knife, was dishwasher safe.

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!  My dinner guest said this was a "delicious dinner."  After 6 hours in the crock pot, the meat was juicy and tender.  It mostly fell off the bone.  This recipe really let the beefiness of the ribs shine flavor wise.  I really couldn't taste any of the garlic or bacon.  I was worried that 1 pound would not be enough to feed two people, but richness of the ribs made this dish quite filling.  The only thing I have to complain about is that there were no leftovers for lunch.

One of the fun things about getting a share of a cow, is learning to cook cuts of meat you haven't worked with before.  Before purchasing a share, I clarified that the share would not contain offal, but when I got it home I had 1 pound of liver and 1 pound of beef heart.  Yes, you read that correctly, beef heart.

I don't have the heart to throw it away, but don't know that I have the stomach to cook it.  If I get 25 comments from 25 different people on this post by Friday, September 28 at 5 PM CDT, I will cook the heart.   If you post, please feel free to give cooking/recipe suggestions for the heart or any recipe you'd like to have me test out.