WITH basic soft polenta
This might seem like a lot of garlic, but it mellows considerably and sweetens a bit in the slow cooker. The bite of raw garlic in the thyme gremolata topping contrasts well with the unctuous, almost sticky short ribs.
Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, working in batches if necessary, cook the ribs (with no oil), turning with tongs, until browned on at least two sides, 5 to 7 minutes total per batch. Using the tongs, transfer to the slow cooker. Drain off all but a tablespoon or so of the fat from the skillet and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden. Pour in the wine and boil until it has reduced by about half, then scrape into the cooker. Add the stock and tuck in the thyme sprigs. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Make the gremolata: Finely mince the lemon zest, along with the parsley, thyme, and garlic, and add a good pinch of salt. Put in a small container, cover, and refrigerate if doing this in the morning.
With a large spoon or a turkey baster, skim the clear fat from the surface of the liquid in the cooker and discard. Transfer the short ribs to a platter, spoon some of the cooking liquid over them, and serve with the gremolata for topping.
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