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Acorn and Thistle

Beer Braised Short Ribs

Acorn and ThistleI don’t know about you, but some of my favorite foods aren’t necessarily the best looking ones. This recipe, for instance, is a fantastic example. The gravy is rich and flavorful; the meat is fall-off-the-bones tender … and there’s mashed potatoes! If there’s one food that I absolutely refuse to ever give up, it’s mashed potatoes. For me, they’re the ultimate comfort food.

The problem, if you want to call it that, with this recipe is that it’s kind of boring to look at. It’s just brown and white(ish). I guess you could throw some steamed peas or carrots in to give it a pop of color, but I usually just serve it with a side salad. That did not translate into awesome food photography, though, so you’ll have to trust me on this. It’s super yummy, and really fits the bill when the weather is such that you’re looking for something warm and hearty on a cold winter evening.

Oh, and it’s a slow-cooker meal! So not only is it super tasty, but it takes about 15 minutes of real time, not counting the potatoes, but the majority of it is the hands-off magic of the slow cooker.

Short Ribs | courtesy Campbell's Kitchen

Photo: courtesy Campbell's Kitchen

Beer Braised Short Ribs
(adapted by my wonderful sister from a Campbell’s Kitchen recipe. Click the photo for the link to the original recipe.)

You’ll need:

  • 3 pounds beef short ribs
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • Olive oil
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) Guinness or other dark beer (I used Portland Brewing Co.’s Black Watch Cream Porter)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 can Campbell’s Condensed French Onion Soup
  • Hot mashed potatoes or cooked egg noodles

Here’s how:

  1. Season the short ribs by dusting with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I just sprinkle it on like I would season a steak, but if I had to guess, I use maybe 1 teaspoon of each for all 3 pounds of meat, total.

  2. Warm a skillet with a glug of olive oil in it, over medium-high heat. Sear the short ribs in the hot oil, turning once to get both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. They’re ready to flip when they have a nice lightly browned crust on them.

  3. Remove from heat. Place the ribs in the slow cooker. Carefully (mind the hot oil in the pan!) deglaze the pan with a little bit of water or beer. Make sure you get the browned bits unstuck – they’re loaded with flavor. Pour that liquid into the slow cooker as well.

  4. Add the brown sugar, flour, garlic and thyme. Toss to coat the ribs. Add the soup and the remaining beer. I usually pour the soup in first and then swish some beer around in the can to get the last of it out. I also generally taste test the beer a few times on the way to the pot. If this is how you roll, too, then you might need more than one bottle of beer. (I usually get a 22-ounce bottle for this purpose.)

  5. Cover and set your slow cooker to low for about 7 hours. Alternatively, you can cook it on high for about 5. Cooking it longer than 7 hours on low will not hurt it at all.

  6. Serve over hot mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

Helpful tips: You can set everything up ahead of time (like the night before) if your morning schedule won’t allow time for the searing step. Put everything in your slow cooker insert, except for the soup and beer, and put it in the fridge overnight. Just take it out in the morning, add the liquid and pop the insert into your cooker, then set it to low and go on your way.


Planning Ahead Quick Tip

Acorn and ThistleEvery winter, I spend quite a bit of time just thinking about what I can do now to make my job easier come springtime. Between the animals, the garden and the fruit trees, once the weather starts warming up everything gets really busy and the time flies by. There are a lot of things that need to happen around a certain time, too, so a little forethought goes a long way for bigger tasks like pruning.

Generally speaking, spring is one of the best times to prune many plants, but definitely not all of them. I’m talking about things like roses, trees, and fruiting bushes that benefit from a haircut in the spring. Pruning, when done correctly, goes a long way to maintaining the health and productivity of your plants.


So, as soon as the leaves fall, I like to cut up some string and stash it in my work jacket. This way, any time I’m outside and I see a branch that needs to be pruned off in the spring, I can mark it. I do the same thing if I see branches in the summer, but it’s so much easier to see the overall shape once the leaves are out of the way.

Do you have any tips for helping manage future jobs in your yard? 

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