It’s the depths of winter, and a special occasion to football fans, so a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes, goes nicely, or as the Beard suggests, hot buttered egg noodles.

There’s literally a lot on my plate this week: football, Crock-Pots, National Pie Day and my new Twitter account.


First, I’ve been informed that this weekend is reserved for football. While I can’t live on a diet of big games for the whole weekend, I will be watching the Pats vs. Denver. (I know Brady says he’s playing against the Bronco’s defense, but two opposing quarterbacks make the whole matchup more exciting.)


I was excited enough to contact Ryan Ruocco of ESPN sports radio to ask his opinion. His prediction is New England, but since he’s a New York guy, he mentioned his surprise at Denver’s win last weekend.


Sports jockeys aside, could a cook let this game pass by without something good on the stove? My pick this week is short ribs. Meaty and filling, they can be started and just left on their own in the oven or a slow cooker. If you forget them — for a few minutes — they char a little.


It won’t hurt the flavor. Since this is an all-American occasion, I turned to the master, James Beard, for a basic recipe. In his classic “James Beard’s American Cookery,” two recipes for braised short ribs show they can stand the test of time. The technique remains the same 40 years later.


His pre-Crock-Pot recipe adapts well to that piece of equipment. The cook just needs more time, so start the recipe early in the morning and, instead of transferring all the ingredients to an ovenproof pot, transfer them to a Crock-Pot about 6 to 8 hours before projected halftime.


Beard’s basic also supplies the perfect jumping-off point for cooks who can’t resist adding their own stamp on a recipe. Substitute any of a number of ingredients for half the amount of original liquid — orange juice, beer, cola, red wine, root beer.


The flavors need to be bold to stand up to the beef, and the amount may need to be adjusted to wholly infuse. Try adding some red pepper flakes as well, but don’t go too far off course on the herbs and spices.


Yes, there is bacon fat in this recipe –– it’s from 1972. You can substitute for canola oil.


It’s the depths of winter, and a special occasion to football fans, so a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes, goes nicely, or as the Beard suggests, hot buttered egg noodles. If you can’t resist some international influence, try instant polenta. Don’t try the conventional kind; you’ll be at the stove stirring for so long you’ll miss the game.


Serve in sturdy bowls with stacks and stacks of paper napkins or a fat roll of paper towels


‘Another’ Braised Short Rib Recipe


5 pounds short ribs


flour


4 tablespoons bacon fat


Salt, freshly ground black pepper


2 garlic cloves, finely chopped


1 large yellow onion, coarsely copped


6 carrots, scraped and halved


1 bay leaf, crumbled


1 teaspoon chopped dried rosemary


1 cup beef stock  


Chopped flat-leaf parsley


1. Dredge the ribs lightly with flour, and brown them well on all sides in the fat in a large heavy skillet. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and transfer to an ovenproof casserole with a cover. Add the garlic, vegetables and herbs.


2. Separately, heat the stock to the boiling point. Pour the liquid over the ribs. Cover and simmer over low heat or in a 300-degree oven until the ribs are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.


3. Taste the sauce for seasoning. Transfer the ribs and the vegetables to a hot platter. If you like, thicken the sauce, by bringing to a boil and whisking in butter and flour kneaded well together. Or serve the sauce as it is with some of the fat skimmed off.


-- Adapted from America Cookery by James Beard, 1972


A kitchen must-have


Crock-Pots are back. If an old Crock-Pot hosts spiders and dust in the attic or the garage, throw it out. The new ones are bigger and better. If you recall your mom’s or grandma’s Crock-Pot as an odd antique, look into this handy more-than-a-gadget that lets you start dinner early in the day and walk away. Check out kitchen supply shops, department stores and big box stores. The buys this month are amazing.


Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com. Follow Linda on Twitter @ Kitchen Call for a daily kitchen hint, trick, shortcut or info.