I'm a seasonal cook. Not just with the fresh ingredients that I use, but I also let the weather dictate what and how I cook. During the summer, you'll find me marinating meats and veggies for the grill, making homemade salad dressings for main course salads, and playing around with cold treats. During the winter months, I use my ovens like crazy. I love, love, love roasting. The ease of preparing a meal during nap time (or when my kids are at school), the smells emanating for the oven, the fun of one pot cooking. You can't go wrong.
I know lots of people swear by their slow cookers, but not me. I figure that if you are going to dirty a pot by searing meat, you might as well use that same pot and transfer it from the stove to the oven. I think you get more flavor, more texture, and less dishes to do-- if you roast in the oven.
One of my favorite go to dishes is braising short ribs. Low and slow oven cooking in a liquid creates a fall-off the-bone tender meat. And the flavor? It just can't be matched.
8-10 bone-in short ribs, about 3 inch pieces. (You can find boneless short ribs, but the ribs? They add extra flavor to your dish, and help create a yummy beef broth that you can freeze or use in future meals).
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 TBS brown sugar
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
5 celery ribs, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup red wine (I use Merlot)
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups of chicken stock
Preheat oven to 325. Cover the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil. Add thyme sprigs. Heat on high (but be careful it doesn't burn).
Once oil starts to ripple, add in short ribs. Brown on all sides. It's easier to do in two batches, than to over crowd the pan (like I did below-- but I was in a hurry). Browning seals in the flavor, and keeps the juices where they belong- in the meat, creating a more tender bite.
Once browned, remove the short ribs from the pan. Place on a plate, or in a baking dish. You want to catch any juices that escape from the meat, and add them to the pan later. Add carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the pan. Cook until onions become slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add canned tomatoes, wine, brown sugar and chicken stock. Stir to combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn off stove.
Add meat and any escaped liquid back into the pan. Place the ribs, bone-side up. The liquid should just cover the ribs. If too much meat is still exposed, you can add additional chicken stock.
Place Dutch Oven into the oven. Cook for 3 1/2 hours.