In life, there are times to hem and haw, and there are times to make executive decisions. I am an expert at both hemming and hawing, but I can appreciate the brilliance of making an executive decision. Once you do, it’s done. It’s decided. There’s no point looking back when life moves in a singular direction, that direction being, of course, forward. I find that making executive decisions helps me to simplify, or to do something I know I should do, but I don’t necessarily want to admit I need to do.
These decisions can be big or small, and more often than not are somewhere in between. Recent executive decisions I have made have included:
- Just go ahead and buy Gooplet the cute Christmas pajamas you want him to wear come December. No, they will not go on sale, and yes, they are too expensive, but they are cute and it’s his first Christmas and church is doing a pajama service, and he needs to look his best.
- For goodness sake, Jennie, put the Lilly clothes in the ThredUp bag. You haven’t worn them since high school, Ocean Allison has made you tons of pillows out of other old skirts and dresses, and you might as well get some cash for them (seals bag quickly and tightly, so it cannot be tampered with, and this executive decision cannot be undone).
- Get the afternoon cup of coffee. It’s just for today, it doesn’t mean you’re on the path to 8 cups every morning like every other member of your nuclear family (ummmm).
My most recent executive decision was not to sear these short ribs before putting them in the slow cooker. My America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook contains seared meat in almost every recipe from the slow cooker section, and a quick peek through the Williams Sonoma slow cooker cookbook revealed that they suggest this too. So it’s gotta be a valid suggestion. But when I’m busting out the slow cooker, I want dinner to be easier than easy. I want to throw everything in that giant vessel, and not look at it again for seven or eight hours. So no searing. Executive decision. I don’t regret it at all, this sauce is amazing anyway*.
To make (executive decision) slow cooker short rib sauce for 4, you will need:
8 beef short ribs
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for topping
1 pound pasta, cooked
Add the short ribs, mushrooms, onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, paste, beef stock and red wine to the slow cooked with the ribs. Stir in the oregano and thyme. Stir as much as you can, then cook on low for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, remove the ribs with a pair of kitchen tongs (keep the sauce covered) and let them slightly cool until you can touch them. Remove the beef from the ribs and add it back to the slow cooker. Add in the brown sugar, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and cheese. Stir well and cook for another hour on low heat. Remove the thyme sprigs.
Before serving, taste the sauce and season additionally if desired. You might need more salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to add it! Serve over pasta and top with extra cheese.
*I find that for dishes like this, there is always leftover sauce, and I’m someone who hates throwing away food that could surely serve some other purpose. My mother-in-law will take an immersion blender, and whir up the remaining sauce for use with another cut of meat, another night. It’s really not a bad idea.