At the start of the year I made a resolution to host more dinner parties. I haven't really lived up to that ideal so far, but am trying to ensure it does happen in the second half of the year. Oh my. The second half of the year. Can you believe that we are almost there? I'm a little scared about how my life seems to be flying by. Weekends are booked out for months, and now the weeknights are looking pretty full too. Anyway, tonight we are just having C's friend over, next time I will invite a few extras but we have been meaning to have Tim for some time, so tonight is the night.
I know it's not good form to serve something you have never made before to a guest, but I have a little secret to admit- I do ALL the time. I don't know what comes over me, I somehow think it's a good idea at the time and then spend the rest of the day stressing out about it. Tonight's meal will be no exception. I was browsing through the latest version of the Gourmet Trav and saw gnocci with short rib ragu- the perfect wintery dish. It has to be slow cooked so I thought I could get up early, do all the prep and pop it in the slow cooker to simmer away for hours breaking down the chuck steak (couldn't get short beef ribs anywhere) and immersing it with the wonderful rich tomato and red wine flavours. I was going to make fresh gnocci, but I'm pretty sure I'll be over it by the time I get home and will just pop across to get some fresh made by someone else gnocci.
To serve with, I'm thinking some artichoke, parmesan and rocket salad and some crusty home made garlicky bread. Thoughts? I'm really into this whole slow cooker thing - love having things ready for dinner when you get home especially when you have guests over, because it means you get to relax and spend time talking rather than being in the kitchen all evening. Ragu was an obvious choice, just because I love it.
It seems that other people are a real fan of ragu too, because when I asked for recipes on twitter, people were very forthcoming with responses and I'm being emailed a new chicken ragu recipe and I picked up some inspiration some more decadent ragu. Obviously my dinner isn't ready yet, so I can't show you a photo, but I'm going to put the recipe up now and give you some piccys later.
In the meantime, tell me, what are your favourite slow cooker recipes? I would love to feature some in the lead up to winter- so email them to me at gastronomygal[AT]gmail.com
This recipe is from the May 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
Gnocci with short rib ragu
IngredientsCooking Time Prep time 25 mins, cook 6 hrs 45 mins (plus marinating)
4 beef short ribs (about 400gm each)
500 ml red wine
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 each carrot and celery stalk, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 litres (8 cups) beef stock
800 gm canned whole tomatoes
4 rosemary sprigs
1 fresh bay leaf
To serve: finely grated pecorino pepato
To serve: 1 quantity gnocchi
1 Place beef ribs in a single layer in a non-reactive container that fits ribs snugly, add wine, cover and refrigerate overnight.
2 Preheat oven to 150C. Heat oil in a casserole over medium heat, remove ribs from wine (reserve 250ml), pat dry on absorbent paper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden (5-7 minutes). Remove ribs and set aside, reduce heat to low, add vegetables and tomato paste and stir occasionally until tender (12-15 minutes). Add reserved red wine and cook until reduced by half (5-7 minutes), scraping residue as you go, then add half the stock one cup at a time, reducing completely after each addition (10-12 minutes). Add tomato, rosemary, bay leaf, remaining stock and ribs, cover and roast in the oven, turning ribs occasionally, until meat is falling from the bone (4-6 hours). Coarsely shred meat with a fork (discard bones and rosemary stalks), season to taste and serve tossed with gnocchi and scattered with pecorino pepato.