Tender, rich, savory beef short ribs. With lots of meaty crimini mushrooms. In a sauce that, if I hadn't told you, you'd never guess included pure pumpkin puree.
Oh, and those heavenly aromatics? My secret spice drawer weapon: Chinese five spice powder. It's a traditional combination of fennel, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and white pepper. Buy some. Use it with everything from beef to chicken to chocolate. It will rock your world. Between the pumpkin and the aromatics, this stew tastes the way Vermont looks in October: warm, spicy and full of oranges and golden yellows. Yes, you can taste orange and gold. Close your eyes, inhale, and take a bite. You'll see what I mean.
I've made this both in the slow cooker and on the stovetop. I've included directions for both, so use whichever method fits your schedule. I like English-cut short ribs - they're well marbled and boneless, and my local Costco sells them in large packages - but bone-in short ribs would work fine too.
Pumpkin short ribs
- 2 Tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
- 4 lbs English-cut short ribs
- 3 large onions, sliced
- 6 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 cups pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
- 1/2 cup beef broth (or two packets Savory Choice liquid beef broth concentrate plus 1/2 cup water)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 tsp salt
When the meat is browned and out of the way, add the onions to the pot. Saute about two minutes, until they start to wilt and turn golden. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook over high heat until they are cooked and have given up all their water, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir briefly. Pour in the wine; it will bubble and evaporate quickly, which is what you want.
Slow cooker: Add the beef, onion mixture, pumpkin puree, beef broth, spices and salt to the pot of the slow cooker. Cook on low 8-10 hours. Your house will smell unbelievably good.
Stovetop: Add back the meat to the pot, then add the pumpkin, beef broth, spices and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and cook over low heat at least three hours, or until the meat is fork tender. Inhale often as the short ribs are cooking, and smile.
Serve hot over polenta or buttered egg noodles.