Ahhhhh, the holidays...
This is the time of year when family, friends, and booze converge in a marathon of parties, gift giving, drinking, and merriment.
And as I reviewed my gift list, and tried to decipher the perfect gift for all the people in my life that said "anything" when I asked them for a specific idea. I saw an article that said just how many Instant-Pots were sold during this year's Black Friday holiday.
And since my mom recently moved in with an Instant-Pot in tow, I decided to give this new kitchen tool a shot for a Friday night date night at home.
The theme of this trial can best be described as "go big or go home"... We did both.
First, for all the variety of cuts available for beef, short ribs are a cut that feels kind of intimidating, because you only really ever see them in upscale restaurants, but they're really very easy to prepare.
And, any recipe that requires a special trip to the liquor store is okay in my book. But who am I kidding, it's the holidays... I was going to the liquor store anyway.
Let's get down to business... Here's the recipe for Bourbon Instant-Pot Short Ribs!
First, I like to assemble all of the ingredients. It makes for a lot less footwork later. Short ribs, bourbon, Instant-Pot, shot glasses (kidding!!!)...
Next, it's important to season your meat. It's also the prettiest step in my opinion... of course it's not without my Hubster standing in the kitchen making some off-color remark about me admiring his meats... he keeps things fresh.
Be generous with your seasoning. This particular cut can take it, and what falls off during searing will end up seasoning your sauce as well.
And now we can start cooking!!! Set your new (or old) Instant-Pot on the sear setting, and sear your short ribs on all sides.
It might seem like this step doesn't accomplish anything and can easily be skipped, but DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A GOOD SEAR. Searing your meat causes the meat to caramelize on the surface.
I think they call it caramelizing, because any piece that gets this dark brown coating on it will gain a kind of sweet and salty flavor - just like caramel... I know that every time I get one of these sweet, salty bites of deliciousness, I thank myself for taking the time to do this step - so I know you will too.
Be sure you turn each piece so that you sear all the way around. Not just the tops and bottoms. And then just remove them to a plate as each piece gets a complete sear. And they don't need to be cooked through, they just need to get caramelized on the outside.
Here's one as it's just finishing up.
Once you pull the last piece out of the Instant-Pot, keep the sear setting on, and throw in the guest of honor (the bourbon). Scrape the "bits" off the bottom of the pan, to incorporate them into the bourbon.
At this point, I just stand there and inhale the aroma of the bourbon cooking down.
After about 3 minutes of deglazing, you can add in the onion, garlic, beef stock, sugar, and balsamic vinegar and place your short ribs back into the Instant-Pot.
Side note: At this step, I would be transferring everything into my crock pot from whatever pan I was using to sear, and just letting this cook on low for about 4 more hours. Removing the need for an extra pan was one of the reasons that I leaned toward the Instant-Pot in my previous blog post "A Tale of Two Pots".
You are pretty much done now - yay! Well... almost. We need to finish actually cooking our short ribs and breaking them down, so that they'll be tender.
Put your lid onto your new (or old) the Instant-Pot. Choose the pressure cooker function and set the timer for 45 minutes, and then allow the pot to release naturally for about 15 minutes.
During this time, I work out what I'm going to do with my short ribs... I am preparing this meal for a Friday evening date night in, so I don't have anything already prepped - but I want to use my hour of waiting wisely, so I make a batch of mashed potatoes that will last for several meals, and then I clean the kitchen (because, it feels SO GOOD to eat in a kitchen that is already cleaned up).
So, while we wait, here's how I make my mashed potatoes! (If you already have a potato recipe you love, you can skip to the bottom.)
I haaate potatoes from a box/bag... First, I happen to like lumpy potatoes, and second of all, I like the peels. So homemade is the ONLY way to go as far as I'm concerned.
Start by cubing a bunch of Yukon Gold potatoes (they have a much better flavor than russet potatoes in my opinion, but you can use russets if you prefer, or a mixture of the two). Fill the pot with water until you've just covered the potatoes, and add about a teaspoon of salt to season them.
Cook over medium-high heat just until the potatoes crumble when poked with a fork. If you overcook them, Yukon Gold's will get gummy. You can help prevent this by cooking a mixture of Yukons and Russets.
Drain the water, and use the back of a large spoon to "mash" my potatoes (keeping in mind that I like mine lumpy - this goes pretty quickly). Add an appropriate amount of butter (appropriate being relative to your taste buds), and instead of milk, I like to use sour cream. (And my sour cream loving Hubster thanks me for that.)
By now, my short ribs are about ready, and it's time to assemble my plates!
After properly venting my Instant-Pot, I remove the lid, and pull the short ribs off to my waiting plates of mashed potatoes using tongs.
Optional Step: Add a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch to your 'gravy' and whisk together until slightly thickened. This step is not necessary, but helps the gravy cling to your potatoes and meat better.
Finally, spoon your gravy onto your plate with your potatoes and ribs, and settle in with your love, to binge watch your Netflix show of choice!
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