Last week we had Don's brother and my sister over for dinner one night. It's rare that the four of us get to be together so I wanted to impress. Who am I kidding, I would have wanted to impress even if I saw them every other day.
I cooked up some southwestern-spiced short ribs in the crock pot and served over jalepeno-jack polenta. This meal was SO easy to throw together, especially since the short ribs slowly cooked all day while we were at work. Slow cookers are perfect to use when entertaining; they make large quantities and are almost completely no-maintenance, allowing the host to mingle rather than slave away in the kitchen.
To start, I made two kinds of puff pastry pinwheels: one with leftover chorizo, black beans, and cheese from the arepas, the other with Smitten Kitchen's walnut pesto. Impossible to pick a favorite!
Next time I make the short ribs, I will make more. This wasn't quite enough to feed four hungry mouths.
Southwestern Short Ribs
From Fine Cooking
3 lbs beef short ribs
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp chopped oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chipotle chile powder (or regular if you don't have it)
1/4 cup beer (we used Becks)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (we used canned)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup beef broth (I used chicken, didn't make a diff)
1 tbs chopped cilantro
The night before, sear the short ribs, seasoned with salt and pepper, in 1 tbsp of oil. Cook until browned on all sides. The more sides you can sear, the better (may require standing there and holding them up). Remove and place in a large tupperware. Pour off most of the fat from the pan, then add the onions and a little more oil if necessary (it wasn't for me). Add 1/4 tsp salt. Scrape up bits stuck to the skillet and cook until onions are soft about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, coriander, cumin, and chile powder, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the beer; deglaze and reduce to 1 tsp.
Pour the onion/spice/sauce mixture over the short ribs and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, skim any fat off the top of the tupperware and place the short rib and onion mixture in a slow cooker. Cover with the carrots, tomatoes, wine, broth, and about 3/4 - 1 cup water. Make sure that some of the juice gets under the ribs - you don't want the ribs to be dry-stuck to the bottom of the slow cooker. Cook on low 8-10 hours (depending on how long you'll be at work!). When you get home, turn off the heat and let sit for at least an hour. Skim as much fat off the top as possible before serving.
Serve with chopped cilantro and jalepeno-jack polenta, which is just instant polenta with chopped jalepenos and jack cheese mixed in. Polenta is so easy it should be illegal.