Saturday, October 10, 2015

Beef Short Ribs

Steak is my very favorite meal. But braised short ribs comes in a very close second. It is absolutely amazing what four hours, a cheap cut of beef, beef broth and a bottle of red wine can become. Let's spend a moment talking about this particular cut of beef. 

There are two different cuts of short ribs. My favorite, the English cut, is shown above on the left. The other cut, shown on the right, is called flanken. While they both cook up the same, I prefer the English cut because more meat is exposed to the bone (flavor) and the pieces of beef are larger. Do not, under any circumstances, buy boneless short ribs. 

To maximize flavor in the finished dish, you absolutely must take the time to brown the ribs all over. Plan on spending a good 10-15 minutes putting a rich brown crust on your ribs. If you are cooking for a crowd, plan on browning in batches. If you overcrowd the pan your ribs will steam instead of browning....and that's an enormous loss of flavor.

This is a really simple dish to prepare. You have about 15 minutes of prep work and then you pop it in the oven where it will braise for four beautiful hours. This is a Gordon Ramsay recipe and it serves two. I like to serve this with buttered farro:

 3 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
6 thick-cut, meaty beef short ribs
1 large head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 heaping tablespoon tomato purée
1 x 750ml bottle dry red wine
4 cups beef stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped flat leaf parsley, to garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Heat a deep-sided roasting tray or dutch oven on the stove and add  the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the short ribs thoroughly, then fry for 10–15 minutes to brown really well on all sides.
  2. Add the halved garlic head, cut side down, pushing it to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato purée and heat for a minute or two to cook it out. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits at the bottom. Bring to the boil and cook for 10–15 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half, then add stock to nearly cover the ribs (you’ll need less stock if your roasting tray isn’t very large). Bring to the boil again, basting the ribs with the juices.
  3. Cover the roasting tray or dutch oven with foil and cook in the preheated oven for 4 hours.
  4. When the short ribs are ready, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. For the sauce: Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and pass through a sieve. Spoon off any excess fat from the beef cooking liquid, then strain it through the sieve and mix with the garlic. (If the sauce is too thin, reduce the cooking liquid by heating for 10–15 minutes more after straining.)
  5. Plate the ribs and spoon the sauce over the top. Serve.

Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon

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