When its cold outside and lazy inside, its always good to have a few tasty bits in single portion sizes ready to whip into a quick lunch.
I had some leftover sourdough bread and some smoked gouda slices toasted and melty in the oven. Over the top, I spooned warm, spicy short ribs in a mock-mole. I call it a mock-mole, as real mole takes lots of preparation time and usually a good, complex, secret family recipe. Mine is a short-cut to some of the flavor profiles, so try it and tell me what you think?
To make the short ribs, thaw a couple pounds of short ribs and cut them into 1 inch cubes. In a bowl, add some dutch process cocoa, all purpose flour, chili powder, and cayenne. Dredge the beef cubes in the mixture, then toss them into a screamingly hot dutch oven on the stovetop with a bit of canola or rapeseed oil, or olive oil and a pat of good butter. Allow the cubes to brown on all sides, then remove from the pan.
Prepare a mire poix – carrots, celery and onion all in half inch cubes – and dump into the pan you just used to brown the beef. The onion and celery will release some moisture, so don’t add anything until you’ve sweated the onion and celery and it has started to caramelize. Throw in a couple cloves of garlic which you’ve peeled and diced fine and let it cook a bit but be careful. Over-cooked garlic is nasty and will bitter-up your short ribs. After a bit, your vegetables will start to stick. Add about half a bottle of wine. I like a good deep Malbec, something red, rich, and a bit dry but with enough fruity roundness to work well with the beef. Use what you like, but make sure its a wine you would drink. Cheap bad wine when cooked makes cheap bad dishes. Move your vegetables around to deglaze the pan. You’ll want all that meaty brown goodness to come up into the sauce. Add a small can of tomato paste, one can of Rotel (diced tomatoes and peppers), and about a quart of beef stock. To this, I add a container of a very smoky high quality pre-made barbecue sauce, and half a small bar of dark chocolate cut into very small chunks. At this point, you can finish off this dish in one of two ways. You can dump the browned cubed beef back into the pot, stir it into the sauce, put the lid on the dutch oven, and put the pot into the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour and a half to two hours or until the short ribs are falling apart and tender, or you can dump your combination into the slow cooker and let it cook for about 4-6 hours. The liquid will thicken in both cases. The crock pot version will be much more tender and the flavors more richly developed, but you don’t always have a couple hours to make a meal, so the oven version will do if you don’t have the time.
This tastes great the same day. I’ve served it direct from the crock pot with dinner rolls or torn challah bread at a buffet-style dinner party, and there wasn’t much left once the guests hit it. You can portion this off into individual portion sizes and freeze it. Take it out to thaw in the fridge the day before and microwave for about 3 minutes covered to reheat. On lazy, cold days, this stuff is great on toast, over rice, garlic smashed potatoes, or even a nice buttered bow-tie pasta, or if you are trying to be really bad, over a nice baked mac and cheese.