Happy twenty-seventeen, friends. I hope you’ve started off the year hopeful about all of the things that lie ahead.
Because I’m an over-thinker of epic proportions, you have to know that I’ve spent the past 48 hours painstakingly analyzing what I think the legacy of 2017 will be. By analyzing, of course I mean without any data whatsoever to back me up– just spitting into the wind here. But I’ve been feeling very (and perhaps uncharacteristically) positive about it so far on a personal level. I feel like it’s going to be our year for success, for love, and for learning new things about ourselves. At the very least, it will be the year that I made Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu with Horseradish Gremolata a billion times.
So, you know. If I’m wrong and everything else goes to shit, I’ve still got that going for me.
I know that many of us are diving head-first into healthy eating with our resolutions, and I’ll admit that I meant to get this recipe to you last week, AKA last year. But time flew by, as it often does, and now here we are, fresh in the new year and ready to make some changes in our lives.
That in mind, I’d like to submit for your “new year, new me” consideration the idea that it’s alright to love yourself with a queue of awesome shows to stream; a day of sweatpants and medusa hair; and a belly full of pasta smothered in a comforting sauce, filled to the gills with tender beef. Or perhaps a house full of friends and family; a couple of bottles of wine; and many bellies full of pappardelle blanketed in hearty meat sauce. As a rewarding break from all of that clean eating and exercising you’re up to, of course.
After all, what’s a year without balance?
And, hey, if that idea still isn’t floating well with you, you can always serve the ragu over zucchini noodles to get your daily dose of veggies in. That’s some new-year-level compromise, right there.
Substitutions aside, this Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu does help us achieve another one of those big resolutions floating around right now: making more dinners at home. It delivers the flavor that you’d expect from an ritzy meal out, but it can be made on a weeknight with very little effort thanks to the slow cooker. All you have to do is mix together all of the ingredients and set it for several hours, until you’ve got a rich, velvety sauce with the succulent short rib falling apart at the slightest touch. If the meat melts in your mouth, you’ve done it right. And as luck would have it, it’s pretty damn near impossible to get this one wrong.
The ragu itself is amazing. It needs nothing else. But if you really want to take it over the top with just the slightest, teeniest, tiniest bit of extra effort, you can make horseradish gremolata. It sounds elaborate, what with its fancy Italian name, but gremolata is just a chopped herb condiment with a few simple ingredients. In this case, it’s made of parsley, freshly grated horseradish, and lemon zest. The gremolata adds bright, sharp flavor to the robust sauce, and I happen to think that it looks gorgeous, too. Especially with a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top.
This is one of the dishes that James and Mike have been begging me to make again and again, and now that we’re deep into the cold winter days, I’ve got the ingredients back on my grocery list and I’m eager to get on it. I can’t recommend enough that you do the same. And when you do make this Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu with Horseradish Gremolata, don’t forget to take a picture and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram to show it off!
Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu with Horseradish Gremolata
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 4 pounds bone-in short ribs
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hands
- 1 tablespoon beef base
- 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and separated
- 1 carrot, cut into large pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 2 sprigs thyme
- ¼ cup fresh parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 ½ cups parsley, coarsely chopped
- Grated zest of 1 small lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh, coarsely grated horseradish
- Pappardelle pasta (or zucchini noodles, or polenta), to serve
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Liberally season the short ribs with salt and pepper.
- Cook the short ribs in batches until browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a large slow cooker.
- Add the shallot, wine, butter, tomatoes, beef base, onion, garlic, and carrot to the slow cooker. Mix gently. Top with the whole bay leaf, rosemary, parsley, and thyme.
- Cover and cook on low until the meat is falling off the bone, about 8 hours.
- Using kitchen tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the bay leaf and whole sprigs from the sauce and discard. Remove the ribs and, using a fork, pull the meat from the ribs and add the rib meat back to the slow cooker. Stir in the parmesan cheese and red pepper, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for an additional hour on low.
- As the sauce finishes cooking, prepare the gremolata. Toss together the parsley, lemon zest, and horseradish and set aside. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
- Cover the pasta with the ragu sauce and top with the gremolata and additional parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve warm.
- Before serving, taste the sauce and season additionally if desired. You might need more salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to add it! Serve over bucatini and top with extra cheese.
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