This is a great weekend meal; there's nothing difficult about it, nothing takes more than a half-hour of attention, and with the slow cooker going, you can come and go while dinner fixes itself.
If you'd rather not use a slow cooker, bring the short ribs and other ingredients to a boil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat. Transfer to a 350 degree oven and cook until the meat is falling off the bone, about 3 hours.
2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch cubes by your butcher
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
7 garlic cloves, 6 thinly sliced and 1 smashed
2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
grated zest of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons sea salt
3 large red onions, halved
1 celery root, peeled and diced
1 (13.5 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
Preheat the broiler.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and arrange the short ribs, meat side up, evenly on the sheet. Place the baking sheet about 4 inches under the broiler. Cook, turning the ribs occasionally, until each side is deep brown, about 15 to 20 minutes total.
Combine 2 cups of water, the vinegar, sliced garlic, jalapenos, mustard, lemon zest and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt in a 6 quart slow cooker. Add the ribs in an even layer. Cook on high for 4 hours. The meat should be tender when pierced with a fork.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat from the slow cooker to a plate. Pour the cooking liquid into a gravy strainer to skim off the fat. Do not discard the fat (you should have about 1/4 cup).
Add the skimmed cooking liquid to a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat until glossy and thickened and reduced to about 1 cup, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Moisten the short ribs with about 1/4 cup of the sauce and set aside the rest to serve with the meal.
Meanwhile, on a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the onions with the reserved fat and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Arrange the onions, cut side down. Roast, without turning, until the onions are browned on the underside, about 15 minutes. Flip and roast until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes more. Tent with foil and set aside.
Combine the celery root, coconut milk, 1 cup of water, and smashed garlic in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the celery root is very tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Strain the celery root, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer the celery root and about half the cooking liquid to the blender. Blend with enough liquid to make a smooth puree, but not a sauce, scraping down the sides of the blender bowl frequently. If you have used all of the cooking liquid and your puree is still too thick, add a little water and continue to blend until it reaches the desired consistency. Transfer to a small saucepan and keep warm.
Serve the short ribs with the celery root puree and roasted onions on the side, along with the gravy.
Photo credit: Dr. Mark Hyman