The Mississippi Roast recipe is an internet sensation and a great way to add flavor and tenderness to a tough piece of meat. It’s simply made by throwing a chuck roast into a crockpot with one package each of Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing and Au Jus Gravy Mix with some butter, pepperoncini and water and cooking for 6-8 hours. But we can’t do anything simply, can we? We need to complicate everything and take the road less traveled.
First, I don’t use salad dressing or gravy mixes. The top two ingredients in Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing are salt and MSG. The top ingredient in McCormick Au Jus Mix is salt. No wonder Mississippi Roast tastes good: gobs of salt and glutamic acid. It’s an Umami Express. But I prefer to control my ingredients and minimize salt. In addition, my better-half is sensitive to MSG; so homemade buttermilk ranch dressing is on the prep list. You can, of course, substitute store-bought (shutter) ranch dressing for the homemade.
As far as the Au Jus mix, I don’t see the point. The meat has its own jus and we don’t need the added salt.
Okay, I admit I am a culinary snob, I don’t do “crockpot.” My slow cooker of choice is my Anova Precision Cooker (sous vide). Unlike the crockpot, with sous vide I can precisely control the doneness and texture of the meat. It’s all a matter of time and temperature. Variations are endless and predictable.
I have done a Mississippi Roast using this method with great results. Unfortunately, I lost my recipe to an iPad meltdown before I could post it. I thought I would start over and, as a twist, give it a try with Short Ribs. Short-ribs are another cut of meat that benefits from low, slow cooking and has a rich beefy taste. The recipe calls for bone-in Short Ribs. I actually used boneless since that is what was available.
I was looking for a texture somewhere between a steak and the fascicles falling apart. I went with 165 F. / 74 C. for 24 hours. The texture and doneness were perfect. The meat was tender and flavorful without being stringy.
I am not sure if it adds much, but I did marinate the ribs in the ranch dressing and pepperoncini for 8 hours before throwing it into the cooker. Buttermilk has natural enzymes that tenderize meat. I figured it couldn’t hurt to let the short-ribs get happy in the dressing before starting the cooking process. If I were to change anything, it would be to pierce the pepperoncini before adding them to the bag. Even after 24 hours of cooking, many of them were whole with the juices still captured inside instead of flavoring the meat.
I have also been experimenting with molecular gastronomy, so for plating I topped it with some pepperoncini air. This step is totally optional. I served it with my take on Spinach Salad ala Firebirds Wood Fired Grill and some Bourbon Cracked Potatoes (recipe coming later).
- 3 Bone-in Short-Ribs, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, English or Hybrid cut
- 3/4 cups Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (see below)
- 12 Pepperoncini
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbps Olive Oil
- Place the short ribs in vacuum bag(s) leaving room between ribs with 1/4 cup of ranch dressing and 4 pepperoncini per rib. Vacuum seal each bag.
- Marinate in refrigerator for 8 hours.
- Preheat water bath to 165F/74C
- Place short ribs into the water bath and cook for 24 hrs.
- Remove bags from the water bag, remove ribs from the bags and pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
- In a skillet, heat oil over high heat. Sear short ribs on all sides.
- Serve on smear of Ranch Dressing. Top with Pepperoncini air.
Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- A dash of cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight.
- 20 grams Pepperoncini
- 25 grams juice from Pepperoncini
- 100 grams water
- 1 gram Soy Lecithin