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A few months back, I received a request from a friend of mine. She was requesting a recipe of course, one that would solve all of her problems, one that would make her days easier and her meals more delicious, and of course it had to go in the Crock Pot. And it couldn’t be soup.
“And don’t make it too fancy,” she said. “If I have to go to the grocery store to get some spice, I ain’t gonna make it.”
“Yes ma’am,” I promised.
One does not argue with an Armstrong. Especially one who is trying to figure out how to work, mother a baby, feed herself and a picky-eater husband all while riding the waves of post-partum hormones. That’s how people get shot in rural America.
I am not a Crock-Pot disciple. It’s one of my many shortcomings. It’s not that I am against the idea of a convenient way to have dinner ready when you get home, it’s more that not many great meals come out of a crock-pot. If you wanted to make applesauce or chicken stock or spaghetti sauce in a crock-pot, that would be great! But to throw a perfectly good cut of meat in this mid-century vessel is to throw perfectly good money away. It often comes out dry, stringy, or mushy and definitely over-cooked. You know why? Because there are very few things in the world that can cook for 12 hours and come out on the good side of dinner. And don’t try to tell me you are only gone from home for 6 hours. In order for the crock pot to serve its purpose well, the recipe has to be able to cook all day. A tall order if you ask me.
So, for many weeks I have worked on just the right way to get a great meal out of a slow-cooker. I did it for the harried, stressed out, and over-whelmed mothers of the world, but mostly I did it for Hannah. I hope she likes it and if she doesn’t like it…I hope she doesn’t shoot me.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle the short ribs with a ½ teaspoon salt and add to the skillet. Brown on both sides and then remove to a large crock pot. Add the onion, garlic and Italian seasoning to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the salt, red pepper, sugar and balsamic vinegar to the pan. Cook and stir for another 1 minute then add the mixture to the crock pot with the beef. Add the tomatoes into the crock pot. Fill one of the tomato cans halfway with water and add that to the crockpot as well. Cover the crock and cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 6 hours. Remove the short ribs from the sauce, shred with a fork and return to the sauce. Serve over hot cooked pasta with parmesan and crusty bread.