Saturday, March 14, 2015

Braised Beef Shortribs (in red wine)


For the last couple of weeks, there's been a bit of radio internet silence from me on Instagram, Facebook and on my blog. I need to adjust to a new chapter in my life, and I'm slowly getting there. For those of you who have been following me, you've often heard me refer to my recipe taste testers as "my boys". Well, the time has arrived. My only child-- my grown son, pulled up his California roots and moved to San Angelo, Texas. (He was given an offer he couldn't refuse to learn a new career.)

As a parent, we know the day will come when the child(ren) we have raised, needs to spread their wings and fly the nest. I miss him terribly, but I'm also very happy for him.  I'm not going to get all mushy and sentimental, from this point on. Instead, I'll share with you how I came to make these braised short ribs.

As the time grew closer for my son to leave, I asked him what he wanted for his "Last Supper".  His quick response was "Osso Bucco".  He says it's one of the most memorable recipes I've ever made.  Unfortunately, my beloved "off brand" cast iron Dutch oven had finally given up the ghost . That is, chunks of enamel started to come off the bottom, and didn't seem like a good idea to continue using it.

After much deliberation, I decided to invest in a Le Creuset Dutch oven.  The price tag?  A lot.  Over $300.00 wherever you look. Fortunately, we have a Le Creuset Outlet store, 45 minutes away, and I was able to save 35% to buy this quality product.  The only "flaw" in the product (which is why it was at an outlet store) was a nick or two on the edge of the pot, and the paint job wasn't up to Le Creuset's standards. For me, it was love at first sight.

Before making the  Osso Bucco that he requested, I decided to break in my new Dutch oven with this recipe. I usually buy bone-in short ribs, which I used in this 2011 recipe, on my blog (photos taken before I upgrade to a better camera.) I had purchased boneless short ribs that I found at Costco.  (I've used these before to make my easy "Asian Style Short Ribs").   I turned to one of my most trusted recipe sources, Cook's Illustrated, to find a recipe for boneless short ribs. Bingo! I had all the ingredients.

Once I seared the short ribs on both sides, I set them aside on a plate. So, now it's time to cook 2 large onions...

 ...and I cooked them until softened and beginning to brown (about 12-15 minutes).

I added some tomato paste, which will give the sauce a beautiful color and vibrant flavor.  Oh, garlic! Six whole cloves of them.

For the last step, we add red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon) and scrape off all the brown bits at the bottom of the pot. This, my friends, is why I love to cook with cast iron. It's all those brown bits (fond) that gives braised dishes such great flavor!

To that I added beef broth, carrots, fresh thyme and a bay leaf. Last, but not least, I returned the short ribs, with any accumulated juice, to the pot.

The pot is covered, and placed into a 300F oven for 2 to 2-1/2 hours; until a fork slips easily in and out of the meat (turning the meat, twice, during cooking).

The aroma of the red wine braising sauce was intoxicating, to say the least.  I was able to clean up the kitchen, and to relax while the oven did the rest of the work.  To finish making this recipe, I removed the braised short ribs and carrots and strained the braising liquid into a fat separator.  I pressed the aromatics and onions, to get every last bit of sauce.

The final step was to add a little bit of unflavored gelatin to the sauce. Why? Here's how Cook's Illustrated explains why:
To develop a short ribs recipe with fork-tender meat and a silky, grease-free sauce in just a few hours, we chose boneless ribs, which are significantly less fatty than ribs with bones. We missed the body that the bones’ connective tissue added, so we sprinkled some gelatin into the sauce for suppleness.

Polenta is our favorite choice as a vehicle for eating short ribs. This time, I opted to serve this dish with  pappardelle pasta.  I wish I had some freshly parsley to add some color to this dish--  but either way, I think you will be very pleased with this recipe. We sure were!

A week later, and the night before my son left, I did make the Osso Bucco recipe with creamy polenta recipe for my son.

For dessert, I made my son's favorite dessert:

New York Cheesecake with a fresh strawberry sauce (recipe coming soon).

My son was very happy, indeed.  A good  mother's strategy is to send off her one and only child with memories of his favorite homemade meals.  That should assure me that he'll be back-- if only for just a visit.   I'm sure going to miss not having him around. He really was one of my most honest food critics.  Now, it's just the two of us-- so I'm going to focus on making scaling down some recipes. Stay tuned!

Oh! Yes, I'm definitely going to visiting Texas in the next few months.  My son is bragging how he's eating the best brisket he's ever had. I'm in!

TASTING NOTES:  As far as prep time is concerned, this recipe is a lot less work/effort that other short rib recipes that I've made. I didn't have a lot of chopping to do, as I do with Osso Bucco.  The flavor of the sauce was very similar to Osso Bucco, and I wouldn't change a thing.  I liked that the boneless short ribs didn't yield a lot of fat that I had to skim off-- and that they were super tender. Delicious!

My Le Creuset Dutch oven impressed me.  I'll be using this new kitchen tool for many more years to come.  I seriously doubt that I would have to worry about enamel chipping off. If it should, I have a lifetime warranty on this pot. That makes me justify the investment that I paid.  PS: I'm not being paid to endorse their products, either!  I wish!

Here's the recipe:

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Sue/the view from great island said...

Oh Debby I feel your angst --- both my girls are out on their own right now, but thankfully one is still here in town. Isn't it funny that the one thing we work toward all their lives, their independence, comes back to haunt us when they actually get it. On a more positive note, I adore short ribs, I'm going to give your recipe a try asap!

Cook said...

Hi Debby,
Yup! You've done it again. A great meal, world-class pix and... what time should I arrive? What may I bring? As noted before, thanks to your wonderful site, I no longer have to dream up new ideas for meals. (To heck with that! Debby will come up with something wonderful and usually a couple of days before a shopping trip. Does it get any easier?) Thank you.
(The other one)

Leilani Schumacher said...

Thank you for the recipe, was going to search for braised ribs recipes this morning and you're was there in my inbox - perfect timing.
I think I can understand what you are going through with your son leaving - I am preparing myself for my only child, a son, transfers to Cal Poly SLO for fall semester.

Bill said...

I can't imagine what it's like to have your only child leave the nest. Big adjustment for you, I'm sure! You just can't beat a good short rib recipe and yours sounds perfect! Great post, Debby!

Big Dude said...

This looks amazing Debbie.

Velva said...

This is a beautiful dish. The le Cruset purchase…you will never regret. I have a couple of piees and they are amazing.

Last year my son took his Florida roots and moved to Texas too. I feel you.


Cedarglen said...

I've made this recipe yet again and *almost* identical to yours. Honestly, the underlying starch does not matter to me: a fat pasta, polenta, spaetzle or even a heavy mashed potato (we just don't like the light, creamy ones here.) Since both of us become almost deathly ill when cooking with 'fermented grape juice,' a substitute was needed. We made multiple experiments, focusing on some fruitiness and something to replace the small acid/sour component. We've worked on this across multiple dishes, not just boneless ribs. O.S. and similar.) So far, the best that we've found is a little apple cider with a splash of cider vinegar. Lemon was good, but too strong. Cranberry + vinegar was still too sweet and frankly, (raw) seasonal cider, stored frozen with a splash or two or 5% vinegar seems to work very well. Here, for 2.5# - 3# of meat, that means 1.5 cups of cider, 1.5 - 2 Tbs vinegar, early in the 3 - 3.5 hour braise. Later, when the the meat is resting and the braised veggies are gone, the sauce may get adjusted. What a Wonderful Idea and the pix just scream,
Cook Me!"
Oven trivia: I love squash. Many folks do not. My favorite is Acorn because it is smaller, easier to manage. We were recently gifted a very hefty oblong, 'winter' variety that we like. Cannot cook/freeze most so... Local experts suggest a thorough scrub, whacking off what one needs then carefully wiping the remainder with VINEGAR, wrapping and storing dark/cool and repeating as necessary. We whack a spare 1/8" from the cut end and proceed. So far, it looks as good as new. Why VINEGAR? At 5% acid, it is just enough to prevent mold and bacterial growth that can otherwise quickly destroy these over-sized treasures. Absolutely Out of vinegar, a dear neighbor rescued me and all is well. A gentle exterior wipe with ordinary 5% white vinegar does work...)
Manny thanks for the braising method and oh how I enjoy your blog. -Craig (The other one)

Debby Foodiewife said...

Cedarglen...your comments always make me smile. Thank you for the great info! Hugs to you. The "other Craig's" wife.