12 February 2012
Braised Beef Short Ribs
Like most of the U.S. this season, we aren't getting much of a winter this year. We were skiing in Utah a few weeks ago where half the mountains were bare and people decorated their yards with "pray for snow signs." That being said, we do get a few cold days here and there and I'm still in the mood to cook those rich, hearty stews of winter. I've also been on a bit of a polenta kick, and what's better to serve over polenta than a big juicy, spoon-tender piece of meat. (Can you tell I'm one of those people who chooses their entree based on what sides it comes with? Yes, yes I am.)
The recipe I ended up making was a combination of a Dan Barber recipe and a recipe from "Sunday Suppers at Lucques." Both of the recipes share the same basic principles. First, sear the short ribs to add color and flavor and then set them aside. Second, saute an aromatic mixture in the fat reserved in the pan (in my case mirepoix - a mixture of finely diced onions, carrots and celery). Third, add the short ribs back into the pan with a flavorful liquid mixture (aka, wine) cover and simmer for a long time over low heat in the oven (aka braise).
The recipe is really very easy but it does require a lot of time in the oven. Additionally, there is the extra step of cooling the dish before serving it, while not essential I found it made a huge difference in being able to remove all the excess fat from the liquid. Short ribs are a great thing to make on a cold Sunday afternoon and they can easily last through most of the week. And I guess I don't need to say they are excellent over polenta.
Braised Beef Short Ribs
Five pounds of ribs just barely fit in our large Le Creuset dutch oven. If you plan to chill the dish rapidly (see step 5) be sure to make enough room in your freezer ahead of time.
5 lbs short ribs
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 cups red wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
salt and pepper, coarsely ground
1. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Generously season the short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a small amount of oil in a large dutch oven. Working in batches, brown the short ribs on all sides, placing them on a plate as you work.
2. Drain off all but a tablespoon of the fat in the pan. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and saute over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes.
3. Add in the garlic and lay the short ribs over the vegetables. Sprinkle the brown sugar, Worcestershire, and tamarind over top, then pour in the wine. Add enough water so that the liquid just covers the short ribs. Cover the pot and place in the oven.
4. Braise for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Check the pot once or twice to make sure the liquid hasn't cooked down too much. The short ribs are done when they flake easily and some of the smaller ribs will probably have fallen off the bone.
5. Let cool, you can chill it overnight in the fridge or transfer the pot to the freezer to cool rapidly (about 1 1/2 hours). The fat will have solidified on top. Remove as much fat as possible from the pan.
6. Easy option: Reheat the ribs and sauce and serve immediately. Fancy option: remove the meat from the sauce and set aside. Boil the sauce down until it is thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. Then add the meat back in to the pan to reheat before serving.