You know you want to free up some oven space.
Christmas is probably my favorite holiday. Not only do I love spending time with my extended family, I have so many strong food associations with the season. The dozens and dozens of cookies my mom starts making after Thanksgiving to bring to every holiday gathering she attends. Ginger-ale-glazed ham painstakingly tended to by my Uncle George on Christmas Eve. Pungent bowls of horseradish dip with Better Made potato chips (Michigan’s finest!), an appetizer made popular by my late grandfather—and to this day, someone always makes it.
Related: Our 30 Most Popular Christmas Recipes
Until a few years ago, we went back and forth between my parents’ home in Michigan and my in-laws’ houses in Massachusetts. But we have two dogs and a kid and decided it was time for us to wake up in our own home on Christmas morning. That meant we got to start some of our own traditions. It also meant I got to decide what to make for Christmas dinner.
As I was considering what to put on the menu the first year, I kept coming around to the same dilemma—I only have one oven. How could I make cheesy potato casserole, roasted Brussels sprouts and apple pie (I prefer them freshly baked!) if I also had to make a roast that would spend hours in the oven?
Related: Make My Family’s Cheesy Potato Casserole
I started scrolling through Pinterest—it’s how I organize recipes, both tried-and-true favorites and ones I want to try. That’s when I came upon a recipe I developed a few years ago for Slow-Cooker Balsamic Short Ribs. Not only is it fairly straightforward to make with mostly ingredients I always keep on hand, it was a huge hit with all of the tasters when I developed it in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. Plus it didn’t involve using my oven.
Was I really going to make a slow-cooker recipe the centerpiece of my Christmas feast? I sure was. It cooks all day, so I could start it as early as I want and cross it off my to-do list. The recipe starts by searing the short ribs in a large skillet. Typically, I prefer slow-cooker recipes in which I can just dump ingredients into it and then press start. But in this case, the extra step of browning the short ribs first is worth it, as the step leaves flavorful bits at the bottom of the pan, which get deglazed and become part of the delicious gravy.
And that gravy is fire. It gets sweetness from the balsamic vinegar and slow-cooked onions, as well as savoriness from the juices of the short ribs as it cooks all day long. To thicken it up at the end, you just stir in a little cornstarch slurry. You could even add a knob of butter to make it glossy. The end result is a sweet and savory gravy that’s delicious spooned over your favorite starch of choice—think mashed potatoes or the previously mentioned cheesy potato casserole or even rice pilaf.
While short ribs sound pricey, I compared them against another popular Christmas centerpiece—beef tenderloin—at my local supermarket, and they’re about one-third the price of beef tenderloin. Plus, relying on my slow cooker to make the main event left plenty of room for all of the sides, desserts and even these adorable cranberry-Brie tartlets. And I was less stressed, knowing I had one less thing to think about putting in the oven. Wishing you less stressful holidays too!
Read the original article on Eating Well.