Cozy up to a slow-cooked meal

Slow cookers are a handy tool for any home chef, particularly those who juggle busy daily schedules. With slow cookers, meals can be prepared in advance and then left to simmer for hours while they develop deep flavors as meats become tender and succulent.

When cooking recipes in a slow cooker, it’s best to choose cuts of meats and poultry that can stand up to long cook times. These cuts tend to be more fibrous and tough, but will tenderize with time. Short ribs, for example, are a prime option for slow cooking magic. They’re the star of this recipe for “Bacon, Onion & Stout Braised Short Ribs” from “Crock-Pot® 365 Year-Round Recipes” (Publications International, Ltd.) from The Crock-Pot Kitchens.

Short Ribs

(Serves 4)

4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, well trimmed

1 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 ounces thick-cut bacon cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 large onion, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

1 bottle (12 ounces) Irish stout

1 bay leaf

1 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves

Hot mashed potatoes or cooked egg noodles (optional)

Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Working in batches, cook short ribs in skillet, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer each batch to a slow cooker as it is finished. Wipe out pan with paper towels and return to heat.

Cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Remove and discard all but 1 tablespoon drippings from pan. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Cook until softened and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste, flour, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from bottom of pan. Pour over short ribs. Add drained bacon, bay leaf and beef broth. Cover and cook on low 8 hours, or until meat is tender and falls off the bone.

Remove beef and skim fat from cooking liquid. Remove bay leaf and stir in parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

Tip: This recipe can be cooked ahead and refrigerated overnight

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