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Braised Beef Short Ribs

January 8, 2010

There are times when I make something and I think about how it tastes better than what you may get in most restaurants.  This doesn’t happen all the time, as I have produced a wide array of culinary flops, but when I do make restaurant-worthy food, I’m pretty proud of myself.  These beef short ribs with goat cheese polenta fall into the “better than a restaurant” category.  They were insanely good.  Just looking at this picture is making my stomach rumble.

I loved these short ribs because they were rich, flavorful and excruciatingly yummy. Nate loved the short ribs with polenta because it was the closest approximation to his absolute most favorite Moldovan food (friptura cu mamaliga, brinza si smintina, or roasted meat with polenta, cheese and sour cream) that I’ve made yet.  The thing is, I was not a fan of  (the term “hated” seems a bit strong, but is perhaps more accurate) friptura cu mamaliga.  I was horrified when Nate pointed out that what I’d made was indeed essentially friptura cu mamaliga.  But this was just so good, it was impossible to not like it. 

Braised short ribs are so easy to make and they mostly just cook themselves.  However, there is a catch: the absolute, most crucial part of this recipe is spooning the fat off the top when you take the ribs out of the oven (or better yet, after you’ve let it sit in the fridge and harden, which would seriously expedite the process).  I know it sounds nasty, but you can see in the picture above that these babies are not lean, and there will be a solid one-inch thick layer of fat on top of the broth and meat.  It’s gross.  And you need to get rid of it unless you want to feel your arteries clog. 

That being said, this isn’t a quick week-night dish because it has to cook in the oven for a good two hours.  But if you have some time in the afternoon (you’ll maybe need 20 minutes to chop the veggies and brown the meat), you might want to give these a try!

Braised Beef Short Ribs

(Adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

I’ve made some changes to the recipe, primarily that I chose not to strain the cooking liquid.  I wanted the chunks of carrot and onion for additional flavor and texture.  The original recipe also suggested adding some unflavored gelatin to the cooking liquid to thicken it, but, once again, I didn’t do that either.

7   pounds bone-in beef short ribs (about 8 ribs)
  Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions , peeled and sliced thin from pole to pole (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 medium garlic cloves , peeled
2 cups red wine
1 cup beef broth
4 large carrots , peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until smoking. Add half of beef and cook, without moving, until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn beef and continue to cook on second side until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes longer, reducing heat if fat begins to smoke. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and meat.

Reduce heat to medium, add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it browns on sides and bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high, add wine and simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth, carrots, thyme, and rosemary. Add beef and any accumulated juices to pot; cover and bring to simmer. Transfer pot to oven and cook, using tongs to turn meat twice during cooking, until fork slips easily in and out of meat, 2 to 2½ hours.

Spoon fat of the top of the broth and meat.  Using tongs, transfer meat and carrots to serving platter and tent with foil.  Pull the woody herb stems out of the liquid.  Cook liquid over medium heat until reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes.

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