I absolutely adore figs, and when one of our friends at our CrossFit box gave us a quart size bag filled with freshly picked Black Mission figs from his tree, I am almost fell over with excitement. I know that sounds ridiculous, but they’re hard to find around these parts. I plopped the few that I didn’t immediately consume into the braise for a refreshing sweetness.
Also let me say, that I have an aversion to the slow cooker/crock pot. I know it sounds snooty and silly, but I just feel like it doesn’t develop the same flavors as braising something in the oven. Our brand new, beautiful and expensive range was shipped defective and regardless of whether or not I turn the heat to 250ºF or 450ºF, the oven thinks it needs to heat to 500ºF. So that’s not so awesome for this recipe, or any kind of baking. The serviceman is taking his sweet time getting out here to fix it. In hindsight, it’s kind of a good thing though, as it has forced me to use methods I otherwise wouldn’t, and now, after tasting these crock pot/slow cooker ribs, I have new found respect for the magic meat machine.
- f.o.c. (fat of choice)
- ~2 ½ lbs beef short ribs*
- 1 yellow onion, roughly sliced
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly minced
- 1/4 c red wine
- 1 ½ c beef stock
- 1 ½ c water
- 1 pint fresh black mission figs**, stems removed & chopped
- fresh rosemary, chopped
- s & p
- lemon zest
- smashed plantains
Salt and pepper the short ribs. Heat a saute pan up over medium-high heat and melt a few tablespoons of your f.o.c., tallow would be great here. Sear your short ribs until they’ve developed a nice, brown crust. Place the short ribs in your slow cooker.
Turn down the heat on your saute pan to medium, and add the onion, garlic and carrot. Saute a bit and add the red wine. You’re not trying to cook the vegetables through, we’ll kill them in the crock pot, we’re trying to evaporate most of the wine from the pan. Stir around the vegetables every so often, until most of the wine is gone. We’re just trying to give a touch of flavor to the vegetables, not make everything taste boozy. Place the vegetables in the slow cooker.
Pour the water and beef stock in the crock pot. Set it on high and let it go until the short ribs fall apart when you pick them up. This will take about 4 hours.
Once the short ribs are done, remove them and let them cool off. When they’re cool enough to handle, pull the meat off, just like if you were pulling a pork butt for BBQ. You should be able to use your hands. If you can’t, they’re not done cooking and need more time in the slow cooker. Add the meat back to the saute pan we used 4 hours ago. Yes, this is what I did and no, I did not wash it in between that time. Gross? Nah, I’m adding ‘flavor’.
Take a fine mesh strainer (If you do not own one, you must go buy one. I am not a clutter or gadget girl, so believe me when I tell you this is a necessary kitchen tool.) and hold or place it over the saute pan. Pour the vegetable, stock liquid through the strainer and into the saute pan. You can discard the vegetables.
Turn the saute pan on to medium-high heat. Add the figs. Let everything simmer away until the liquid has reduced by about half. Right before serving, garnish the top with some freshness: lemon zest and fresh chopped rosemary. Serve with smashed plantains.
*If the short ribs are long, like in the link above, cut them in between the bones, so they’ll cook faster
**If you can only find dried figs, use about 1/2 a cup.