So I had planned to braise short ribs for my Project Food Blog dinner party but I was a little behind schedule and had to improvise. I’ve always wanted to use my rice cooker to cook something other than rice but always forget about it… I figured it’s the closest thing I have to a pressure cooker so I might as well give it a shot. What did I have to lose? Just a crowd of friends expecting a good dinner…
Although it is more pressurized than a normal pot with a lid, I’m not really sure if it worked any quicker than it would have on the stovetop. Either way, it freed up space on the stove and I didn’t have to run the oven for 3+ hours. “Braising” short ribs like this is a pretty forgiving process… ideally you’d do it low and slow and I’m sure McGee would have a fun day with me on this one but I think with these things you can almost just cook the shit out of them and eventually they come around… I had them simmering and boiling back and forth in that rice cooker for about and hour and a half to two hours… somewhere around there. In the oven I probably would have let them go for at least three hours so I guess this saved me a little bit of time? Either way, it was a fun experiment.
When I do short ribs like this, I have the butcher cut them across the bones into strips that look like the ones below. If you’re going to grill them, you’ll want to take them a step further like the Korean-style cut where they almost butterfly the meat off of the bones into grill-able cuts.
Rice Cooker Short Ribs
Adapted from… my head.
All you’ll really need is a pile of meat and a little bit of aromatic veg to flavor your meat and broth with. A mire poix of some sort.
Beef Short Ribs – 3lbs
Garlic – a fistful, peeled about 8 to 10 cloves
Onion – half an onion… red, yellow, whatever
Carrot – 1 or 2 small or just 1 large
As you can see in that image above, I like to pull of the tough skin on the back side of the bones. It may not be completely necessary but it’s just something I do. If you can slip your finger under an end of it and get a good grip you should be able to just strip it back. Takes a little bit of tugging but it’ll work.
Next, I seared them in a little bit of oil in a heavy bottomed pot that was nice and ripping hot. As an alternative, if you really want to keep this one-pot, you can crank up the rice cooker and brown them in there.
While the ribs are searing, pulse the veggies in the food processor to make a nice paste. This isn’t totally necessary, you can also chop them into nice little perfect brunoise if you really like to dice things… but you’re going to cook them to oblivion anyway so it doesn’t really matter.
After the ribs are nice and brown and crisping, remove them to the rice cooker and toss in the veg puree. Sautee it for a couple minutes just until it’s nice and aromatic. Transfer that to the rice cooker and toss in a bit of water to pull up the fond that’s formed on the bottom of the pan. Dump that also into the rice cooker and then fill it with enough water to cover the ribs. Close her up and crank it.
I switched the cooker to the “warm” setting a couple times throughout the cycle to cool it off when it got to boiling. This is obviously a pretty imprecise “recipe” because it’s going to require some adjustment depending on how your rice cooker heats, the size, etc. I cooked mine for about 1.5 to 2 hours. You can check on them periodically to see how they’re doing. They’ll start out seeming tough as they begin to cook but as they simmer in the cooker they’ll slowly soften. When the membrane around the bones is starting to pull back like in the photo below, they’re good to go. You should be able to slip the bones out cleanly.
After that, strain the sauce into a saucepan, add a little bit of red wine and reduce it on high heat until it’s thickened and a deep reddish brown hue. Season with a touch of salt and have at it.
If you want to be fancy, trim off the tougher stuff around the bones. If not, it’s fine to eat and after all that cooking it should be plenty tender enough.