One of the seasonings used in the sauce is ground ancho chile powder. I also added a bit of chili-garlic sauce as well for a little extra kick. I don't make them super spicy but there is a spicy undertone that I balance with a little Swerve sweetener. As I was opening and closing the fridge the big bowl of washed fresh cranberries on the top shelf caught my eye. I wondered how adding some cranberries to the crock pot might add some extra zing to the sweet and spicy flavored juices. I decided there was only one way to find out and that was to go for it. I bumped up my sweetener by a couple tablespoons to balance the tartness of the cranberries and whisked it into the sauce before pouring it over the ribs. I measured out a rounded cup of cranberries and scattered them on top of the ribs before covering the crock pot. Then...I did a little happy dance. If this turned out good, it would be yet ANOTHER way to enjoy my beloved cranberries.
Other than adding a little more sweetener to balance the tartness and bring out the cranberry flavor, the only thing I did differently was to boil down the juices on the stove top for about 15 minutes or so to reduce them by about 1/4. I pressed the cranberries that were floating on top to make sure they had all ruptured which incorporated them nicely into the "au jus." I added another couple tablespoons of Swerve as it was cooking down (one tablespoon at a time, tasting after each addition) and then a pinch of sea salt. The ancho-cranberry au jus was absolutely delicious. The spicy-sweet-salty-tart flavor was perfectly balanced without either one of the flavors overpowering the other. They complemented each other beautifully. To go along with our short ribs, I thinly sliced half of a small head of cabbage and lightly steamed it with a couple tablespoons of water in the microwave for about 5 minutes just until wilted but still bright green. I drained it and tossed it in a skillet with some butter on medium-high heat for a few minutes and then seasoned it with a bit of sea salt. It was that simple! Did I mention that I also served our meal with a dollop of fresh cranberry sauce on the side? I mean, who says cranberry sauce is just for turkey? I could eat it morning, noon and night! This meal was amazingly simple and amazingly delicious. I am so glad I tossed those cranberries into the crock pot last night. If you love cranberries like I do...try it, you'll like it! Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Boneless Beef Chuck Short Ribs w/ Ancho-Cranberry Au Jus
3 pounds boneless beef chuck short ribs, cut in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, or to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons ketchup (with no high fructose corn syrup)
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons Swerve Sweetener (if not adding cranberries, only use 1/4 cup)
1 cup beef or chicken stock
1 cup whole cranberries
*Additional Swerve sweetener (2 to 3 tablespoons) for making au jus reduction or gravy
Using paper towels, pat ribs dry. Season both sides with salt, pepper, ancho chile powder, and smoked paprika. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven until hot. Brown ribs on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Place ribs in bottom of a 6 to 7 quart slow cooker.
Using same pot ribs were browned in, add diced onion and cook over medium-high heat until tender-crisp and lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Spread cooked onions on top of ribs.
In a medium bowl, combine ketchup, chili-garlic sauce, vinegar, sweetener and beef stock and mix well. Pour over top of ribs; add cranberries and cover slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
When ribs are cooked, transfer ribs to a platter; cover to keep warm. Carefully pour hot juices into a saucepan and place over a medium-high burner on stove. Bring to a boil and reduce by approximately 1/4 to concentrate flavors. While juices are cooking down, gently press and smash cranberries with a slotted spoon against side of pan to make sure all have popped. Add additional sweetener (I added about 2 tablespoons Swerve) to balance the spicy sweet flavor and enhance the cranberry flavor. Season with salt, to taste.
Note: If a thicker gravy is desired, whisk in about 1/4 teaspoon xanthum gum, half at a time until desired thickness.