I’ve had a a weekend of swapping over wardrobes, from summer to winter. I swear I had more winter clothing than this? Where did it all go? I just know I’m going to come across a vac pack bag in a cupboard in Spring that has all my winter pants in it. But in the meantime, I’m done. 3 summer wardrobes replaced by winter. Tweenie will be annoyed to return from Scouts camp to find her shorts and tank tops all packed away in the top of her wardrobe. But, how she can wander around in shorty shorts and tank tops with blue legs and the heater on, defies logic. Although, I’m pretty sure I did the same thing as a kid. Just without the ducted gas heating.
With the change of the weather, means a change in the menu. The slow cooker is already out and in use, but the big guns of the meat world are also out, in the form of beef ribs. I had a stack of ribs that I slow cooked yesterday for dinner with friends. I didn’t have enough room in my slow cooker for all of them, so I did a cooking test to see if you can tell the difference between a slow cooker rib and an oven slow cooked rib. The answer is yes, and the results are steadfastly in the oven slow cooked camp. But, this will not affect my love and affinity with my slow cooker, as who has time on a weekday to oven slow cook anything for 3 hours?
The oven cooked ribs were much richer, the fat had almost completely rendered down. The meat had a denser, meatier flavour and had soaked up all the marinade, til they were a sticky meaty morsel of beef. The slow cooker ribs were just as tender, but they needed extra time in a pan on the stove to render the fatty layer down. They still had the rich, gelatinous flavour as the oven cooked, but it wasn’t as intense. I have the extra 10 minutes needed to finish the dish off on a weekday evening, if I were to do it again in the slow cooker, so this wasn’t a big deal.
Besides, when you sit down to a rich red wined chunk of beef with its sticky deep black herby sauce, on a bed of lush buttery mashed potatoes and a side of balsamic ratatouille, who cares how it was cooked?
- Approx 14 beef ribs
- Herbs – thyme, oregano and rosemary, a couple of twigs of each
- A bottle and a half of red wine
- Small tub of tomato paste
- 1c chicken stock
- 5 big cloves of garlic
- 2 small red onions, or one big one
- A couple of mild banana chilies, or strong ones depending on how hot you want it
- Salt and pepper
Put all the ingredients, except for the extra half a bottle of red wine, into a container big enough to fit it all comfortably and put it in the fridge overnight or a couple of hours at the very least. I had mine marinating for 2 days.
When you’re ready to cook it, take the meat out of the marinade, heat some oil in a pan (I have a sear slow cooker, so I brown all my meats in it on the stove top before they go in to slow cook. Brilliant) and brown off the ribs. Add them to the slow cooker, and/or pot and pour the marinade over the top, making sure you scrape all the tomato paste from the bottom of the container. You can’t really check the seasoning at this point, but you will need to add more salt and pepper after it cooks. Slow cooker meals generally require more seasoning than other cooking types as it cooks for so long.
I added a bit more liquid to the pot to go in the oven, as the slow cooker creates a lot of liquid from the meat. The other half a bottle of red went into the oven pot.
The oven cooked ones went in at 130 fan forced, for around 3 hours. I topped up the liquid with some water and added a cartouche halfway through, just a paper lid that sits on the food to keep the liquid from evaporating.
The slow cooker went on for about 7 hours and I turned the ribs once during that time.
Picture of oven cooked ribs
Of slow cooker ribs
Can you notice the difference?
To make the sauce, I poured all the juices into a pot, added another big glass of red wine (is that 2 bottles of red wine we’re up to?) maybe I drank some of it through the process…
Simmered it down for a while, then strained it through a sieve to remove all the bits. It had a fair bit of fat from the ribs, but 10 minutes in the freezer froze the fat so I could scrap it all out and chuck it. I had to take the unassembled dish to my friends place, so I reheated it all a bit later.
To go with, I made up a ratatouille type side dish – tomatoes, garlic, red onion, eggplants, banana chilies, purple capsicum, added some frozen basil oil I’d made from the last of the basil, a big dash of balsamic, salt and pepper and slow roasted til all soft and brown and gooey.
Make some buttery mashed potatoes, serve it up with ratatouille, pour a big glass of red, if there’s any left and enjoy!