Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Braised beef short ribs

The chill hasn't yet gone out of spring. Here in Maine this morning they're actually calling for snowflakes. The last pile of seasoned firewood on my front porch grows smaller each day, and come Sunday it's going to be May.

In other words, it's still braising season here in the Northland. Might as well get with the program and rustle up some short ribs.

Finely dice three large carrots, three celery stalks, one onion, one leek, and six garlic cloves; also measure out 1/4 cup of pine nuts.

This is just under 5 pounds of beef short ribs. Season the ribs very well with kosher salt (don't be shy) and freshly ground black pepper.

Dredge the ribs in all-purpose flour.

Cover the entire surface of a large Dutch oven in olive oil; heat the oil and brown the ribs on all sides. You may need to do this in batches; I browned two ribs at a time.

When the ribs are nicely browned remove from the oil and set aside.

Add the diced vegetables, pine nuts and a few anchovy filets (optional) to the oil and saute until softened but not browned. I also added some fresh thyme, marjoram and rosemary.

Return the ribs to the Dutch oven.

Then cover the meat with a combination of red wine and stock. I used 6 cups of homemade chicken stock here and one bottle of an inexpensive Cote du Rhone; you may not need to use this much liquid. Cover the pot and place in the oven (preheated to 350 degrees F). After around 2 hours remove the cover and continue cooking for another hour or until the meat is completely tender.

These ribs were in the oven for just over 3 hours and the meat was so soft and tender that it literally slid right off the bones. The ribs gave off a lot of fat and so I used a large spoon to scoop most of it out.

Then I set the ribs aside, added the zest of around half a lemon, and reduced the sauce a little bit because it was on the thin side. Depending on how much sauce you have, and its consistency, you may not need to reduce the sauce at all, but the lemon zest is still a good idea.

I served the short ribs over homemade pappardelle but mashed potatoes, polenta, or even risotto would work too.

If you're lucky there'll be leftovers. This stuff is always going to taste better the next night. Which in my case turned out to be in the 30-degree-get-me-the-hell-out-of-here-it's-supposed-to-be-freaking-spring range.

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