Our lovely extended fall seems to be coming to an end. Snif. Tonight’s low is supposed to be 12 degrees. Yikes! It’ll be our first hard freeze, which means that this morning the kids and I will scurry about and remove all the hoses from the outdoor faucets; we’ll move the rest of our garden squashes and so forth inside, and we’ll make sure that we’ve got plenty of firewood inside to keep our wood stove burning. Also I’ve noticed a few storm windows still need to be closed, and I’ve got to close up a window out at the chicken coop, too.
I’m thinking that I’d better make a list.
It’s finally time for comfort food, Gentle Readers. Hot bread. Red meat. Mashed potatoes. Casseroles. Baked squash. Hot and chunky applesauce. These are the things that I don’t have much interest in, during the warmer months, but once it gets cold, I can’t get enough of them. This, of course, makes my family very happy, indeed, because they can eat these hearty and heavy meals 24/7, 365 days of the year. Bless them.
We buy a quarter of a beef every spring from a local farmer, and I try to time our beef consumption over the year so by the time the next spring rolls around, we’ve used up most of the beef and are ready to tuck another batch into the freezer. We use the hamburger and the packages of stew meat first, of course, followed by the roasts and the steaks. I’ve always just pushed the large packages of short ribs around, sometimes accumulating more than one year’s worth, just because I’ve never really known what to do with them. They are always at the bottom of the freezer, like some unpopular uncle, you know the one that gives you strange looks and you’re not sure what to say to him . . . so you just avoid him?
Yeah. Really lousy analogy, but do you know what I mean, anyway?
Well, I’ve discovered a new way to prepare these short ribs, and they are no longer the awkward uncle at the bottom of the freezer. So to speak (clearing of throat). Moving on . . .
You may or may not know that short ribs are the cut-off ends of the prime rib, so the meat on them is just delicious, but tough, and there’s lots of fat and gristle on them bones, too. So it’s a bit of a process to cook them properly. It takes some time. They need plenty of slow cooking in liquid, and then you’ve got to let them cool and separate the bones and strips of fat from the meat. It’s not a big deal, but it’s not quick frying a hamburger and slapping it on a bun, either.
It all seems like quite a bit of trouble, because it IS quite a bit of trouble. But, oh, if you do all that, you’ve got chunks of very rich and flavorful meat, AND (this is very exciting) lots of little bones to throw back into your pot to make broth out of.
I’m going to be writing about my broth-making adventures later this week. It seems a perfect time of year to do this. I’m a bit of a broth-making geek, and I’ve discovered the glories and the mysteries of making Bone Broth, which has been a wonderful thing, and has made me into a stark raving mad lunatic about making broth! Well, I figure it’s best that you know this.
But I’ll reveal that info later this week. I cooked up some short ribs last week and while they were cooling, I peeled potatoes (I knew that meat and potatoes, with meat juices to slather about, would make my family deliriously happy–and I do enjoy making them deliriously happy) and I put them on to boil (the potatoes, that is). After I had pulled the meat off the bones, I added some spices to it and put it in another pot with some of my fresh bone broth, and heated it back up. By the time the meat was hot and bubbly, the potatoes were ready to mash, the carrots were perfect, and the rest . . . as they say . . . was history. Very pleasant, tucked around the table, sweet smiles and eyes-rolling-back-in-bliss history. You can picture it, can’t you?
Oh, Gentle Reader, this is a glorious and indulgent meal, made out of the bottom-of-the-freezer awkward uncle-ish packages of short ribs. So the next time you end up with packages of short ribs in the bottom of your freezer–or if, perchance, you happen upon a good sale of them at your local grocery, try this recipe! It’s so good!
- 1 Tb vegetable oil
- 3 lbs meaty short ribs, give or take
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 5 quarter-size slices fresh ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 5 whole star anise
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- water to cover bones
- 1 Tb rice vinegar
- 2 Tb sugar
- Early in the day, heat the oil in a Dutch oven and brown the short ribs well on all sides, seasoning them as they cook with the pepper, 20 minutes or so.
- Remove ribs with slotted spoon and put into your crock pot, set to “high.” Here’s where the broth-making comes in. Pour water in to cover, and leave for 10 to 12 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bones. Add more water if necessary.
- Remove the ribs from the pot, and a 3 or 4 cups of the broth. When the bones are cool, strip the meat off, give the fat to your dog, and put the bones back into the pot. You’re going to cook them a bit longer to make more bone broth.
- Once the fat has risen to the top of the set-aside broth, skim it off and pour the broth into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add the chopped onion, the ginger, the garlic, the star anise, the soy sauce, the vinegar, and the sugar. Simmer until the onion is translucent, 10-15 minutes. Add the meat and heat until the broth is hot and bubbly.
- Cook and mash your potatoes, steam your carrots, and you’re ready for dinner!
Enjoy making this hot and steamy meal, stay warm, and check in later this week for more about Bone Broth!
I’ll be sharing this post with the cool link-parties at Frugally Sustainable and The Prairie Homestead. Come on over to learn something new! I’ve also linked up with the great group over at Delicious Obsessions. Come see!
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