Break out the crock pot baby, cause Mama's coming home late!
Well, actually, we come home after five twice a week because of my four year old daughter's rigorous ballet schedule, but I can still claim it as a need for ready to serve dinner.
Back in January I stocked up on new slow cooker books and tried all sorts of things, some good, many wretched. This was one of my favorites and my husband liked it too. It is adapted from Cuisine at Home's Slow Cooker Menus.
There's quite a bit of prep - so I do it in the morning after breakfast while the kids wreak havoc and I yell at them. You could probably prep the night before (brown ribs & make sauce) and it would turn out fine if you add an hour or so more cooking time to warm up it after all that time in the fridge (ribs and sauce would have to spend the night in there).
Serve it with rice from your rice cooker and sauteed stir-fry greens or kale. If you don't have a rice cooker, go buy one. There is no easier way to make rice. Even boil-in-bag varieties look like work compared to plugging in my rice cooker (and the bag grosses me out, but thats not important right now). Cook the greens right before you plan to eat, you can wash and dry them the night before, wrap in a paper towel and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge for safekeeping.
Like at least half the dinners we eat in our house, my kids aren't sold on spare ribs yet. But after we've eaten them 100 times I bet they will be. For now, I just put a quarter of a pb&j on each plate, and let them eat that if they're still hungry after rejecting my food. Lucky for me, they enjoy rice almost as much as they enjoy pasta.
Slow Cooker Short Ribs (adapted from Slow Cooker Menus p. 62):
This takes 45 minutes of prep, plus hours in a slow cooker.
It serves four with rice and greens.
3 lb beef short ribs
1 Tablespoon canola (or vegetable) oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped green garlic
1/4 cup minced ginger
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
For starters, cut the ribs into pieces so that each one has only one bony bit. Then salt and pepper them. Next, brown the ribs on all sides in a big pot with a tablespoon of canola oil, over medium heat. You want them to get nice and brown and crunchy, but don't let them burn. On all sides means all six sides of each rib piece, thats a lot of turning every five minutes or so. Just stack them all in really close if you have trouble standing them on end.
When all sides are browned, move the ribs to your crock pot.
Combine the scallions, ginger, brown sugar, vinegar, molasses, hoisin, lime juice, fennel seed and pepper flakes in something with a pour spout. Stir it up, and pour it over the ribs.
Put the top on your crock pot and cook it on low heat for 7-9 hours or high heat for 4-6 hours. Serve the ribs with rice and greens.
Sautéed Stir Fry Greens (adapted from Slow Cooker Menus p. 63):
This takes 20 minutes of prep and cooking.
It serves four.
1 big bunch stir fry greens (or kale)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Heat the olive oil in a pan big enough to hold your greens, over medium heat. The oil is hot enough when it begins to shimmer, but you don't want it to smoke - turn the heat down if it does. Put the garlic through a press into the pan (or you can mince it), stir it around. Add the greens, red pepper flakes and about 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir some more. Watch to make sure the greens don't start to smoke or burn. In four or five minutes add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and stir. Cook for five or so minutes more, and they're ready to eat.