Slow cooked short ribs are the perfect vehicle for spices, and these spiced short ribs have a secret ingredient. A milder cousin of the better known variety, Black cardamom has a deep smoky, earthy flavor profile. It pairs perfectly with the sweetness of star anise, and the piquant flavors of cinnamon and peppercorns to give these short ribs a sultry and mysterious flavor.
In a mortar & pestle, break up the whole spices into smaller pieces with a few good strikes.
Transfer the spices to a dry, heavy skillet and toast over medium-high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the spices are fragrant and just beginning to smoke. Watch the pan carefully, this should only take a few minutes. Transfer the spices to your slow cooker.
Coat the ribs with one tablespoon of vegetable oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Add the remaining oil to a heavy skillet and preheat to medium-high. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, sear the ribs until they are browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side and transfer them to the slow cooker.
Add the onion and beer and water or stock to the slow cooker.
Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours, until the meat falls off the bone. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and strain the juices through a sieve. Skim the fat from the juices and remove the meat from the bones. Return the meat and juices to the slow cooker or a dutch oven on the stove top and warm them together.
Serve the meat on rolls with crispy vegetables, bahn mi-style or with rice or potatoes for a heartier meal.
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Got some left over ribs? Try this recipe for Sassy Short Ribs!