It really intrigued me, so I decided to make it myself today. Trouble is: I don't have a suitable stove-top-to-oven dish, so I had to modify it for my crock-pot.
Here is the Final Recipe - as I adapted it (or would adapt it, next time I make it!)
- 4 lbs bone-in beef short ribs (orig recipe called for 6#, cut into 2" pieces) (I used 4# - and no, I didn't make the butcher cut them into 2" pieces, mine were appx 3-4" long)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 TBS oil (I used Olive Oil in the pan, and spray-on Canola Oil on the squash)
- 3 lbs kabocha squash (1 small squash was about right)
- 2 medium onions - coarsely chopped (orig recipe called for "finely chopped)
- 1/3 cup flour
- 5 garlic cloves, minced (orig recipe called for 4)
- 1 square of semi-sweet baker's chocolate, chopped
- 4 cups beef broth (orig recipe called for 5 - but I ran out of room in my crock pot!!!)
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries (Craisins) (Orig recipe called for 1/2 cup dried and 1-1/2 cups fresh. Fresh were waaaaay too sour and I will omit them, next time I make this!)
- 3 TBS candied ginger (found dried, sugared ginger chunks in the Produce Section of my grocery store - I minced 'em)
- 1 TBS finely shredded orange zest (I zested one organic orange - no clue if it ended up being 1 TBS!)
First, I poked holes in the kambocha squash and nuked it for appx 5 minutes (to facilitate slicing/peeling 'cuz it was one HARD sumb*tch!). Then I sliced it in half - across the equator - scooped out the seeds and goozy innards, then sliced it into 2" wedges (meaning the chunks were 2" across the fat end).
I have a combination microwave/convection oven so I lined the convection tray with aluminum foil and preheated the convection oven to 450*. Once it was heated, I pulled out the tray and arranged the squash wedges (bigger chunks on the outside). Spritzed 'em lightly with Canola Oil (since I ran out of sprayable Olive Oil), and cooked em for 15 minutes 'til they were starting to soften and kinda-carmelize...
While the squash was cooking, I tamped the short-ribs on paper towels, hit 'em with fresh ground sea salt and pepper, then I tossed 'em in a large pot on the stove and browned 'em on med-high heat in olive oil (took 2 batches). Once they were browned, I tossed 'em in the crock-pot (which was already set to "high" heat).
Next, I sauteed the onions 'til limp, using the same pot and oil that I'd just used for the meat. After they were limp-ified, I added the flour and continued cooking 'til everything was golden brown.
Then I tossed in the minced garlic and chocolate. Stirred it around and continued cooking for another minute or two. Then I added the broth and brandy - brought it to a boil. Then I added the dried cranberries, minced ginger and zested the orange. Let it keep boiling for a minute or so, then I poured the whole mess into the crock-pot on top of the beef.
I covered the crock-pot and let it cook on "high" for appx4 hours.
Well... Hell! I've still got squash in the nuker/convection oven! Turns out that doesn't need to get added 'til later, so I wrapped the chunks up in the aluminum foil and stuck 'em in the fridge (in other words, you don't need to prep the squash right away!!!) (but it's not a bad idea b/c kambocha squash is a real PITA to peel!!!).
Once the meat was starting to soften up a bit (although it hasn't yet reached the point where it "falls off the bone"), try to schlorp off some of the fat. Honestly, this dish did get incredibly greasy! I used a turkey baster to suck off the top layer of liquid and fat, and splooged it into a "grease separator" kinda measuring-cup-pourer thingy. Let the liquid set for a couple of minutes and poured it (sans grease) back into the crock pot.
Okay, at the four-hour mark, add the (now somewhat-chilly) squash to the crock pot. The original recipe also called for adding fresh cranberries at this point - but to be perfectly honest, I think fresh cranberries are waaaaay too sour. I *did* add 'em (and also added more Craisins at this point). But I think I'd omit the fresh cranberries next time. Anyway, dump the squash into the pot and let it cook for another hour...
After close-to 5 hours, I ended up removing the individual beef chunks and cutting the meat off the bones, cutting the meat into slightly smaller chunks and returning them to the crock pot (Mmmmmm! Beef Bones! Dogs are Orgasmically Happy!).
To be honest - other than the too-sour cranberries - I think this stew is freaking DELICIOUS!!! It smelled heavenly and somewhat-exotic while it was cooking. And it definitely *doesn't* have that "Crock-Pot Beef-Stew Flavor" (You know what I'm talking about!!!).
We are getting ready to sit down for dinner, momentarily... I'll report-back on how it was!
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Aftermath 10/17: It was *quite* tasty. Like I say, it didn't have that "crock-pot beef stew" flavor - which was nice... I'm not a huge fan of anything "chuck" related, but this was definitely tolerable.....
Go ahead. Try it! I *think* you'll like it!