These tender slow-cooker balsamic short ribs are so comforting, with great flavor from the balsamic vinegar and rosemary. Serve them over parsnip puree with a simple vegetable side, like seared radicchio or quickly sautéed kale.
I love short ribs because they’re meltingly tender, full of meaty flavor, and really hard to mess up. They’re super easy to make in the slow cooker, and they go well with a wide variety of flavor profiles. In this simple recipe, they’re cooked low and slow with plenty of balsamic vinegar and fresh rosemary for the perfect fall comfort food with an Italian bent.
To round out the meal, I like to serve these slow-cooker balsamic short ribs with an extra creamy (but cream-free!) parsnip puree. Parsnips are such a fun cold weather vegetable and they taste great as a puree–the flavor is beguiling and almost has hints of coconut to it. This parsnip puree is pretty much heaven with some cooking juices from the short ribs spooned on top. If you’re looking for more on parsnips and reasons to love them, check out my parsnip and pumpkin soup post.
The key to a super smooth parsnip puree is a very thorough pulsing in the food processor. I do add both ghee and olive oil for richness, but you can also do all one or the other. The finished texture is so velvety that it’s really hard to believe there’s no cream OR coconut milk involved!
For this photo shoot I served the balsamic short ribs and parsnip puree with seared radicchio (similar to this recipe). It was my first time trying radicchio and I was a bit turned off by the bitter flavor, so I prefer to serve these with kale quickly sauteed with a little garlic. The ribs and parsnip mash are a satisfying meal in and of themselves, though!
Melt-in-your-mouth short ribs and super-smooth parsnip puree are pretty much the epitome of comfort food for me from September all the way til spring hits. If you haven’t tried making short ribs in the slow cooker, I bet you’ll be happily surprised by how easy and delicious they are!
For the slow-cooker balsamic short ribs:
- 4-5 bone-in beef short ribs 3 to 3½ pounds total; boneless short ribs also work but won't weigh as much
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ghee or avocado oil
- ¼ cup aged balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup low-sodium or homemade chicken or beef stock
- 2 teaspoons <g class="gr_ gr_98 gr-alert gr_spell gr_disable_anim_appear ContextualSpelling" id="98" data-gr-id="98">stone-ground</g> mustard
- 1 medium yellow onion halved and thickly sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
For the parsnip puree:
- 7 medium parsnips about 2¼ pounds total, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make the short ribs:
- Pat the ribs dry and season them generously with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, stock, and mustard.
- Heat a very large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the ghee and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Add the short ribs in a single layer, working in batches if your pan isn’t large enough, and sear until browned on all sides, 10-15 minutes total. Transfer the ribs to a slow cooker, arranging them vertically.
- Add the onion to the pan and stir. Add the vinegar mixture and all the remaining ingredients, scraping the bottom of the pan using a spatula to dislodge any browned bits. Bring to a simmer, then pour everything into the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours, until the <g class="gr_ gr_95 gr-alert gr_gramm gr_disable_anim_appear Punctuation only-ins replaceWithoutSep" id="95" data-gr-id="95">meat</g> falls apart easily.
- Use tongs to remove the ribs from the slow cooker. Serve hot over parsnip puree, with some onions and cooking liquid spooned on top.
To make the parsnip puree:
- Put the parsnip chunks and salt in a saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, until the parsnips are very tender.
- Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the parsnips and place them in an 8-cup food processor with the remaining ingredients.
- Process until very smooth, adding cooking liquid bit by bit as needed and pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
Becky Winkler is an enthusiastic eater who shares paleo and gluten-free recipes on her blog, A Calculated Whisk. She enjoys chopping chocolate, salting dessert, searing short ribs, and taking pictures. In her other life, she's a grad student in Boston.