Jim went to his cardiologist yesterday and got the go ahead for his primal diet. I was thrilled, because some doctors don’t like it that much. I’m glad to know my instincts were decent in this case. So tonight, I’m making use of my slow cooker and some grass fed, organic primal cut short ribs we picked up. I’m braising them in red wine and horseradish sauce, and turning the braising liquid into a gravy with which to top the cauliflower. I’m trying to give Jim non-primal flavors with a good health payoff.
There’s some controversy in the paleo world about red wine. Some people have it. Some don’t. If you know Jim and me, then you know we are wine enthusiasts. So I’m cooking with it tonight. It’s a sometimes thing instead of an every night indulgence now.
Jim has been so careful about following his diet that I wanted to make him something delicious, and I think this qualifies. Plus, I wanted to experiment with paleo gravy techniques.
Slow Cooker Wine and Horseradish Braised Short Ribs with Caramelized Onion Cauliflower Mash
For the short ribs:
- 3 slices pastured sugar-free bacon (we get ours at US Wellness Meats), cut into pieces
- 2 three-rib slabs of grass fed organic beef short ribs, cut into individual ribs
- Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 pound organic cremini mushrooms
- 1 pound organic baby carrots or 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 sprigs organic fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs organic fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons organic prepared horseradish (or more to taste)
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 5 cloves garlic, finely minced or through a garlic press
- Season the ribs with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and place in the bottom of a slow cooker.
- Brown the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered. Using a slotted spoon, put the bacon in the slow cooker. Set aside the bacon fat for the caramelized onions and cauliflower you’ll make later.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir. Cook, covered, on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for five hours.
- When the meat has cooked, remove it from the cooking liquid with tongs and set aside on a platter.
- Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, remove all of the vegetables from the cooking liquid and place them in a food processor. Remove the thyme and rosemary branches and throw them away.
- Leaving the top slot of the food processor open so steam can escape, puree the vegetables until smooth. Stir them back into the cooking liquid in the slow cooker until the liquid thickens.
- Return the meat to the cooking liquid and reduce heat to keep warm while you prepare the cauliflower.
For the cauliflower:
- 2 tablespoons pastured bacon fat
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 heads organic cauliflower, broken into small florets
- 2 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat (or, if you’re not allergic to dairy like me, substitute pastured butter or another animal fat such as lard or duck fat)
- Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- In a large saute pan, heat the bacon fat over medium heat until it melts.
- Add the onions in a single layer in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are reduced and caramelized, about 45 minutes.
- In a large pot, cover the cauliflower with water. Cover the pot and set it on the stove to boil on high heat until the cauliflower is soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Drain the cauliflower well and allow it to sit in the colander for a few minutes to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Transfer the cauliflower and caramelized onions to the food processor. Add one to two tablespoons of butter, bacon fat, or some other fat. Process until smooth. Be sure to leave the top slot of the food processor open so the steam can escape.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Now, serve the meat and gravy over the mashed cauliflower. Delicious, I promise!
A bit about my food processor warning. When I was a little kid, my mom was pureeing hot lentil soup in the food processor. It went boom and wound up all over the kitchen ceiling. My mom was lucky she didn’t get burned by the scalding hot soup.
When blending hot foods in a blender or food processor, steam build up can cause hot liquid and food to force its way out of the top of the processor. It can blow the lid clean off a blender. The best way to protect yourself is to open the chute at the top of the blender or food processor as you blend. Then, fold a towel several times and place it on top of the blender or processor. Place your hand on top of the towel to hold the lid in place. The towel will protect your hand. Finally, don’t stick your face right over the top of the open chute, just in case. Open the lid cautiously after blending hot foods.
So – when I mentioned I was making mashed cauliflower on Facebook, I got some negative feedback about it. Apparently it’s a love it or hate it kind of food. I like it. With this, the caramelized onions really do mellow the flavor, and the bacon fat (if you use it) adds a lovely smokiness. Still – if you just can’t see yourself eating mashed cauliflower, consider another mashed paleo-friendly food such as celeriac or sweet potatoes.