Thursday, December 1, 2011


As a society, we all seem to be rushed; packing too many things into too few hours. I often catch myself scurrying around, frantic to get it all done. It’s no wonder that when it comes to food, shortcuts seem to be inevitable and ultimately sought after. The idea of spending hours preparing one meal seems indulgent, archaic even. But there are some things that cannot be rushed. One of my absolutely favorite things to eat is something that takes hours and is only at its best when time and care are taken. Short ribs were once looked down upon; a lesser cut of meat that required moisture and hours to be edible. However, like many things; what’s old is new again. Short ribs are now a staple on any self respecting bistro menu. And having a well done short rib dish puts that stamp of approval on many people’s list. It’s important to understand that if a restaurant is willing to do the diligence to properly prepare short ribs, then you might be in the company of true food respect and artistry.

So, take advantage of the downtime during the cooking process and pour yourself a glass of wine. I have adapted my short rib recipe from Anne Burrell.

3 bone-in short ribs and 3 boneless short ribs (about 6 pounds)
Olive oil
1 large sweet onion, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 peeled carrots, cut into ½ inch pieces
10-12 garlic cloves
1 ½ cups (12 ounces) tomato paste
2-3 cups of hearty red wine (I tend to use a ratio of 3 parts red wine, 1 part port)
2-3 cups of water
1 bunch of thyme tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves

Generously season each short rib with salt. Coat a large Dutch oven with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd the pan. You may need to cook in batches; remove ribs if need be to a plate until you have finished browning them all.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the ribs are all very brown, remove them all from the pan. Leave a small amount of oil in the pan and add the pureed vegetables. Season with salt and brown them until they darken and from a crust on the bottom of the pan; approximately 5-7 minutes. (Onions often hold a good amount of water and this water may hinder the browning. If this is the case, add a teaspoon of sugar during the browning to aid in caramelizing the vegetables.) To assist in the browning, scrape the crust and redistribute to insure even browning. Add the tomato paste to the vegetables and brown paste mixture for 4-5 minutes. Add the wine/port and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze all the bits. Lower the heat to avoid burning the mixture and reduce it by half.

Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups of water or more until the ribs are just covered. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Cover with a lid or tightly secured foil and place in the oven for 3 hours. Check the ribs during the cooking time to ensure that the ribs remain under liquid; add water if necessary. Turn the ribs over halfway through the 3 hours. During the last 30 minutes, remove the lid to release moisture, thicken the braising liquid and encourage additional browning.

Remove the pan from the oven and taste the braising liquid. If necessary, adjust the flavor by adding additional salt and/or sugar to balance out any acidity that may occur when tomatoes are included in a recipe.

I prefer to serve my short ribs over a basic soft polenta. They would also pair well with mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles.

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