Over the years I have posted a lot of recipes for slow cooking on my blog; this stems from my dream to have an outdoor brick oven for making pizza, bread and clay pots filled with some slow-simmering concoction. Slow cooking takes me back to my childhood when I watched my great-grandmother make all of the lovely baked goods, stewed fruits, and gooey, browned chicken that she made in a crusty old enameled pot she brought with her from Germany in 1935. Oma used her body and soul to make plum cakes, lebkuchen, butter cookies, spiced plums, stewed figs, etc. She didn’t have a Kitchenaid or a food processor, she made everything from scratch, her hands and arms were the whisk, the wooden spoon, she knew when something was mixed enough and didn’t concern herself with weights and measurements, nor did she bother with oven temperature. She made everything by sight, touch, taste and feel, and she always knew when the oven was hot enough for this, that or the other.
I thought a lot about Oma while I was preparing my mise en place for our Rosh Hashana dinner. I felt her watching over me, reassuring me that I had enough onions, garlic and carrots, and that I should be careful not to burn anything. It is at times like these, especially when I am making an old family recipe, that I wish I could bring Oma and Mama K back here, for just a few hours, to give me pointers on how to not make the butter cookies spread out, or so that I can ask them if I have made the dish to their standards.
Adapted recipe from Eli Landau and Haim Cohen
3 kg short ribs (asado or shpundra), with as much fat removed as possible, cut into sections
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
8 small shallots, peeled and cut in half
1 head of garlic separated into cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
6 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
3 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried
2 cups (1/2 liter) of pomegranate juice
2 cups (1/2 liter) of chicken stock
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 100C (200F).
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large oven-proof pot on medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and brown them on all sides. Place them on a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and the shallots, and saute them until they are transparent. Add the garlic, carrots and celery, and stir until the onions begin to brown. Add the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves, stirring for 2-3 minutes.
Add 1 cup of pomegranate juice and scrape the pot, loosening any bits that have stuck to the bottom. Add the rest of the pomegranate juice and chicken stock, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
Add the meat back to the pot and bring to the boil again, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and place it in the oven or leave it on the stove top, on the smallest burner and the lowest flame, for 3-1/2 hours. Occasionally baste the meat.
When the meat is cooked, almost falling of the bone, place it on a serving platter. Place the pot on medium-high heat and cook until the sauce thickens. Pour some of the sauce over the meat and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.