Saturday, December 15, 2012

Going Dutch on SUNDAY BEST Short Ribs

Behold. These are my lovingly assembled ingredients for the best slow roasted short ribs on earth—at least this was the general consensus among my family members, who ate the ribs before I had a chance to photograph the finished product. Thanks guys. I can’t take all the credit for how good they came out; I think I owe some of the success to the Kitchen Must Have du jour: my Le Creuset Dutch oven. I put the ingredients into it first thing in the morning, put it in a screaming hot oven and walked away—but not too far. I’ll save my Sunday Excursions for a slow cooker day. That’s one of the chief distinctions between a Dutch oven and slow cooker; you don’t want to leave the house with the oven on. The good news for this ribs recipe is that it’s easily done in a slow cooker as well. Just reduce the liquid ingredients by half and put the setting on high for about 8 hours. You’ll see my note when you click the recipe link for Chipotle Spiced Slow Roasted Beef Short Ribs.    

Le Creuset is, well...a little expensive, but pays for itself in less than a dozen dinners, so good you’ll remember them forever. The background information about this company almost seems like a deleted scene from a movie about Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Creuset translates into simply “cauldron”, and the first one off the French assembly line in 1925 was in the color of flame—because its creators wanted to mimic the vibrant color inside a caldron when it reaches boiling point.  Le Creuset has the special glory of being the first kitchenware company to make cast iron pots and pans in a rainbow of enamel glazed colors. You could say they prettied up gray metallic kitchens around the world. I know my Dutch oven has been responsible for its share of smiles on Sunday—and this short ribs dinner couldn’t be a better way to show what it can do.  
What happens when you go Dutch?

Some may ask, “why not make short ribs in a slow cooker?” Well, my answer to that is, you definitely could; a slow cooker produces the same result, really, as a Dutch oven and many will turn to the slow cooker because they feel more comfortable leaving the house with it switched on than they would an oven. I do believe, however that a Dutch oven is better at locking in hearty beefy flavors that stand up to robust sauces, like the sweet fire of commingling cinnamon and hot peppers. I think the Dutch oven reduces sauces better, leaving them thicker and juicier—and I also love how you can braise and bake in the same dish when you use one. When you go Dutch, you won’t miss a pan sear as much; you can skip the browning of the meat in a skillet as a first step.

And since we’re using short ribs in this recipe—not side ribs or spare ones—the meat is going to be a little tougher (think top sirloin tough) until it’s slow roasted into the rich, soft texture my own family has seen falling right off their forks when I serve this favorite as a Sunday dinner. And, oh goody, so many more of these days to come! Look how many Sundays between now and forever, that I can bring you my weekly Sunday Best edition! Au Revoir, until we meet again!    

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