Savory Braised Short Ribs.

What’s not to love about short ribs? They’re pretty cheap, super meaty, and easy to cook because after a bit of prep, you can just walk away and forget about them. My kind of meal. These short ribs are fantastic and feature one of my all-time favorite flavors in the world ever in the history of the universe: Worcestershire sauce. I’ve loved it since I was little (though we did break up for a short time, when I discovered “anchovies” on the ingredients list. But I got over it and we’re back together). I love cumin and bay leaf with Worcestershire, so they got thrown into the mix, and thyme is always a good time/thyme., so he’s here, too. As far as side dishes go, I like to add petit pois at the end of the cooking process and make a sort of one-pot meal, but short ribs also go great with mashed potatoes, grits, or some delicious buttery rolls. Just go carnivore-nuts on their deep amber goodness.

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INGREDIENTS

5-6 short ribs (I actually prefer boneless short ribs, but my store was sold out, so I used bone-in. Boneless usually don’t need to cook quite as long, so keep that in mind if you go for boneless.)
butter
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 small onions (or 1 large onion), diced
1 1/3 cups carrots, sliced into segments
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups stock (beef stock would be best, but all I have is my homemade chicken stock, and it does the trick)
optional: 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (J‘adore les petits pois.)

Just the Recipe link: Savory Braised Short Ribs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a Dutch oven or other large, stovetop- and oven-safe pot with a lid, heat butter and olive oil on medium high. Season each side of the short ribs with salt and pepper, and brown them in batches, careful not to crowd the pan. Don’t worry about cooking them through; we’re just trying to get some color on these babies. Once all the short ribs have had their time to brown, set them aside.

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Turn the heat down to medium and add more oil to the pan if necessary. Toss in the carrots, onions, and garlic. Cook until softened, and then stir in the cumin, red pepper flakes, thyme, and bay leaf.

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Cook until fragrant, and then pour in the Worcestershire sauce. Stir the veggies around as it steams, and then nestle the short ribs back into the pan. Pour in the stock and bring to a bubble. Taste for seasoning, and add salt as needed.

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Place the top on the pot and put the whole thing in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure you have enough liquid to keep things good and moist.

Once they’re falling-off-the-bone tender, the short ribs are done, so take the dish out of the oven and remove the bay leaf.  Use a large spoon to remove some of the fat from the top of the juices. Then, if you love peas as much as I do, stir them in now and then re-cover the pot, letting the heat cook them through.

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That’s it! Dig in and let the tender melty goodness fall right off the bone and into your heart/stomach. And watch out for little canine stomachs, who might want to steal a bite.

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Why I Feel Like an Empowered Shopper, and Spicy-Tangy-Sweet Pulled Pork.

Disclaimer: Buycott did not ask or pay me to write this post. These observations and opinions are all me!

None of us is a perfect consumer. Our buying decisions have ramifications far beyond the immediate, and even the most conscientious shopper can’t account for everything that goes into the products he buys. But since each dollar we spend sends a message about our standards and our principles, it’s incredibly important that we put our money where our mouth is when it comes to the things we buy. I’ve tried to do the research and make sure that I avoid companies that are most in conflict with my values and views (Chevron, Monsanto, Nestle, Tesco, to name a few), but with all the sub-brands and mergers and corporate crap that goes on, keeping tabs on these guys would be a full-time job.

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That’s why I want to share my experiences with the Buycott app—an app that gives me peace of mind by letting me make much more informed decisions when I’m standing at the grocery store shelf. Once you download Buycott, you browse through different “campaigns,” from support of LGBT rights to responsible disposal of waste to child labor to labeling genetically-modified foods. You choose any and all the campaigns that align with your consumer values, and Buycott saves them. Now the fun part: grab any product, pull up Buycott’s scanner, and scan the barcode. Buycott looks it up and tells you whether the company is in conflict with, neutral to, or in support of the campaigns you care about. Then you to decide whether it’s worth it to continue buying that product or not. It’s an easy way to make sure my money sends the right message, and it makes me feel empowered, like I have at least some idea where my dolla dolla bills are going.

On Friday, I made use of Buycott in a big way on a visit to a chain grocery store I had never been to before. As soon as I crossed the threshold, cart a-rollin’ in front of me, I pulled up the Buycott app on my phone and started scanning like a maniac. Normally I shop at Trader Joe’s, where I’ve never found a Buycott-conflict item for sale, so on this trip it was amazing to see just how many brands I would have put in my cart, if I hadn’t found out from Buycott that they went again my standards. For example, the huge Goya brand of Mexican foods, which normally I would be thrilled to put in my cart—according to Buycott, Goya dabbles in GMOs and Monsanto products! Heartbreaker. I will no longer be buying Goya because of this. And the store’s private brand, which I would have assumed the worst about—it turns out that they weren’t in conflict with any of my campaigns. They got to stay in the cart.

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While Buycott is not perfect, and definitely doesn’t take the whole consumer universe into account, it does make a difference to me. It’s an easy, time-saving tool with which to better wield the awesome power of my consumer dollar, and that’s why I love it. To any of my readers who feel the same way as I do about spending, I so recommend downloading it. I mean come on, it’s free.

And what did I have to show for myself at the end of this shopping trip? A kick-ass pulled pork, made entirely from ingredients that got the Buycott thumbs-up. I almost called it “Austin Powers Pulled Pork,” because, yeah baby.

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INGREDIENTS

1 large onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
3-4 lb pork shoulder (also called pork butt)
salt
1 tsp peppercorns (or 3/4 tsp pepper)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (or scant 1/2 tsp ground mustard powder)
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced (throw in a few more if you like it extra spicy)
1 tbsp adobo sauce (the sauce from the canned chipotle chiles)
2 bottles root beer (about 24 oz – I used Berghoff Root Beer, because I’m a good Midwestern girl)
1 cup water (optional – use if you want more juices leftover after it’s cooked)

Just the Recipe link: Spicy-Tangy-Sweet Pulled Pork

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Lay the onion wedges in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid. Season the pork with salt.

If you’re using whole peppercorns and mustard seeds, grind them up using a mortar and pestle until they’re broken up, but not pulverized.

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Sprinkle your pepper and ground mustard over the pork, and place the pork in the pot, on top of the onions.

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Next, add the chipotle chile and adobo sauce to the pot, and pour in the root beer. Optional: add the water. Do this if you want more sauce at the end – I made mine without the water, and it had just enough sauce for the pork to soak it all up. If you like it a little saucier, add the water.

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Cover the pot and put it in the oven for at least 3 hours (I cooked mine for just over 4 hours). Flip the pork over once during cooking.

You know you’re there when you can easily shred the pork using two forks. At this point, remove the pork from the pot and shred it completely. Discard the bone.

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There should be just enough sauce left in the pot to coat the pork, so add the shredded meat back to the sauce and stir. That’s all!

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Obviously this makes a great pulled pork sandwich, but I served mine with these refried beans and this red cabbage slaw.

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Pork perfection, ready for its close-up.

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