Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cook Me Slowly

I know there are plenty of people out there similar to me.  People that have favorite utensils, pans, and bowls (even if they have an odd number).  People that refuse to get rid of something simply because it's done nothing wrong; it has just been used over and over and aged some along the way.  I have something in my kitchen that fits such a description: my crockpot.  It's no longer especially attractive or gleaming with newness. It's got an old fashioned spin dial- no digital, stainless steel or locked lid.  Its temperature gauge is a little off and it's permanently stained in some places.  But I love it.  I genuinely love it.  It's done nothing wrong but slowly and gently cooked everything and anything I've placed in it.  It has filled every home I've had with the most amazing and comforting aromas.  It has added happiness during football Sunday, warmth in the middle of the winter and a level of convenience during any night of the week.  When I consider purchasing a new, sleek and shiny, top of the line slow cooker, I feel as though I'm cheating and immediately feel remorseful and change my mind.  We're that tight.

My crock pot was a gift from my mom shortly after I graduated college.  At first I thought, "great, now what do I do with this thing?"   In spite of my initial indifference, I did take a shot at cooking something in it and the first thing I made was pulled pork.  Admittedly, after that first use, it didn't spend much time slow cooking anything during the next couple years and instead spent the majority of our early years together stuck in the back of a cabinet.  But one day, living in Florida, it came out of storage and our relationship blossomed.  Now I could probably dedicate a blog solely to the use of my crock pot and I've even nailed down one amazing recipe for pulled pork (which I'll even eat now!).  But pulled pork, while a logical recipe to share given its appearance twice in this post, is not the recipe I'm choosing to share.  Instead I'm opting for something we made recently.  I don't even have a real name for it but maybe I can settle on... Asian BBQ Short Ribs.  We picked up our ribs at our local butcher in Eastern Market with no idea of how they would ultimately be served.  But my husband and I knew one thing for sure: they would meet our slow cooker and they would love her.  In the end I settled for a mix of some Asian inspired ingredients- hoison, soy, rice wine vinegar along with some other staples such as ketchup and honey.  After eight hours of super low heat the short ribs were undeniably tender, juicy and finger licking delicious (did I just write finger licking? I'm almost embarrassed).  We served it with fresh brussel sprouts we picked up at one of the local vegetable stands and the combination with the ribs and rice was a perfect match. 

Disclaimer- I've said it before and I will continue to do so.  I am NOT a good measurer.  These measurements are estimates and may need to be altered to please your palate.  I often just throw in heaping tablespoons of something and smaller teaspoons of others, then alter as I go until the flavor makes me grin.  So forgive me if you choose to follow the measurements to a "T" and they don't work out just right.

3 pounds of short ribs (serves two plus lunch leftovers)
couple heaping tablespoons of hoison sauce
8-10 shakes of soy sauce
8-10 shakes of rice wine vinegar
about 1/2 cup of ketchup
2 tablespoons of honey
1 bottle beer- any light beer will do
4 scallions, white and green parts sliced on an angle and set aside
2 cups cooked white rice (make shortly before serving)

Mix the hoison, soy, vinegar, ketchup and honey together in a large bowl.  Stick your finger in it and give it a taste.  Adjust as necessary (it should be sweet and slightly tart with a deep flavor from the hoison).  Set aside just under 1/4 cup of the sauce to drizzle over the ribs when they finish cooking. Take the short ribs and toss them in the remaining sauce until they are well coated.  Place them in the slow cooker.  Pour 1/2 bottle of beer over the ribs.  Drink the remainder even if it's 9 am.  You will feel like a total rebel and it will undoubtedly put a smile on your face.  Cook on low heat, about 225, for 6-8 hours.  Check to make sure there is enough moisture about 1/2 way through the cooking time.  If not, add more beer, and feel free to polish this one off too.  I also like to flip my ribs over at this time to be certain both sides are receiving the love of the beer.  About 20 minutes before your happy meat is done, cook your rice.  You can choose to serve your ribs with or sans bone.  I went without because they were falling off of them anyway. It also gave me a chance to trim off a little fat so my husband and I could do our best to enjoy an evening where we weren't picking our teeth throughout the meal (it keeps the sexiness alive, ya know?). 

To serve, pile some rice in the middle of your plate.  Take the meat and pile in the middle of the rice.  Drizzle some of your set aside sauce over the top and around the rice.  Sprinkle with scallion and serve. 

What are some of your favorite slow cooker meals?  While I have hundreds (literally) of recipes, recommendations from real people will make it in my pot before a cook book recipe will.  So share!!


denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

Hmmm...yours is the second blog I've read today that mentions crockpots. I'm starting to feel a little guilty about my dusty, neglected crockpot in the storeroom. Wonder if this is a nudge ;)

jpowers said...

Sounds yummy. I am hoping it will work with other meat like chicken or beef.

Holly Keegan said...

Denise- the slow cooker is well worth pulling out, so consider yourself nudged! :) Tell me what you make!
Juls- you can't go wrong with any meat in the pot as far as I'm concerned. If you try chicken with this, tell me how it works out.

The Keegans said...

Hows about tofu, hols? tee hee! I'm guessing I would end up with mush by the time it was done slow cooking :) Love you! xo

Holly Keegan said...

Tofu! :) Aww... I'm thinking you're right about the mush. But chicken would work!

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