Lekker: Beef Short Rib Ragu

Did you know that the plural of "beef" is BEEVES??? I AM SERIOUS.

Now that that's out of the way, hi! I'm back, tonight with a beef short rib ragu done in the slow cooker than is the absolute definition of comfort food. Turned out to be quite serendipitous that it's snowing like hell here tonight, which somehow justifies "comfort food" even more. It does, though! I'm not even mad about it anymore; it's March 16th (ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME IT IS SPRING BREAK IN MOST PLACES RIGHT NOW OMFGGGGGG) and I've just resigned myself to the fate of living in an icy tundra for the rest of my days.

Anyways. I enjoyed this recipe tonight with my roommates Badger and Bear whilst listening to them bicker about their viability as an Amazing Race team. Kids, let me take all the mystery out of that one for you: one of you is coming home in a body bag.

 Tastes so much better than it looks, I promise!

Short Rib Ragu
serves 4

What You Need
3 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces (It's unlikely you'll find this kind of thing in your usual grocer; I suggest you find a local butcher who will not only have this cut but will be happy to cut it to the correct specifications as well.)
Preferred oil for frying (canola, vegetable, clarified butter/ghee, etc)
1 large carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 celery rib, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced roughly
3 cloves garlic, simply crushed with the flat blade of your knife
1/2 cup red wine (Anything non-sweet that you have on hand will do: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cab Sav)
1 28-ounce tin whole tomatoes in juice
6-8 stalks fresh oregano
S & P to taste

Serve over these delicious mashed potatoes, though go easy on the half-and-half--you want these to be able to stand up as a sturdy base to the ragu, so you don't want them to be too creamy or soft.

What You Do

1. In a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sear off the short ribs, working in small batches so as not to crowd the pan (because that's the quickest way to get things steaming instead of frying, no bueno), until well-browned and nicely crusted on both sides. Transfer to a plate and keep working until all the ribs are done.
2. Pour off any excessive fat in the pan, leaving only about a tablespoon. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes just until the carrots brighten in colour. Add the red wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits left over from the beef. Cook over medium heat until the red wine is mostly absorbed, then remove from heat.
3. Toss the beef and veggies together in a 5-6 quart slow cooker and add the can of tomatoes, breaking up with your hands as you go. (Careful--it's fun squishing them, but they squirt all over the place!) Sprinkle in 4 stalks of fresh oregano and add salt and pepper. Cover, and cook on High for 6 hours.

4. Hollaaaaaa! All done? Okay, if you're ready to eat then get those mashed potatoes going. While they're boiling, you'll want to remove the bones from the slow cooker (the meat should be so tender by now that they're easy to just pick up and remove) and shred the remaining meat with two forks. Add the remaining fresh oregano (fresh herbs lose their power during long cooking so you'll want to boost it up) and taste, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Remember that you're dealing with both beef and tomatoes here, both ingredients that simply cry out to be seasoned with salt.
5. Serve over a pillow of mashed potatoes and a glass of red wine. Hey, you opened a bottle to reduce those vegetables, didn't you? May as well. :)