Thursday, September 2, 2010

Iron Chef Coffee: Coffee-Braised Short Ribs

They say you eat with your eyes. That’s why gourmet restaurant chefs spend so much time stacking, drizzling, swirling, spreading, and placing every morsel of food so that it looks as delicious as it tastes. But I don’t know about you—I eat with my mouth. It doesn’t matter how good something looks, if it doesn’t taste good, I don’t want it. And this recipe? Tastes gooooood.

But unfortunately for me, my Iron Chef competitors made some desserts that not only tasted pretty delicious, they also looked really beautiful and tasty. And one thing braised short ribs are not is attractive looking. So even though this was a winning recipe based on taste, it just couldn’t get its presentation in order. Still, I recommend it.

(photo taken by the R.Home photographer, not me!)

I found this recipe on Epicurious, but modified it based on the comments, and used beef short ribs instead of bison (who eats bison?).

4 cups water
3 cups chilled strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup coarse kosher salt
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups ice cubes
8 short ribs

For the marinade, mix the water, coffee, salt and sugar in a bowl. The recipe calls for chilled coffee… I didn’t really chill mine fully, but I did let it sit out for a little while. Plus the water really takes the temperature down. Stir this until you don’t see any more salt or sugar crystals. Then add the next three ingredients. Next, add the ice cubes and stir until they melt. Not really sure what the point of the ice cubes is, unless it’s just to make sure the mixture is cool and won’t cook the meat. Once the ice cubes are melted, you can add the short ribs. Cover and chill them for 4 to 6 hours. I actually let them sit for 24 hours with no adverse effects. Might not be a good idea to marinate them longer since the acid in coffee really breaks down the meat and could make it mushy.

Short Ribs:
1/4 cup chopped bacon (about 1 1/2 ounces)
2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped shallots
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 chipotle chile chopped, and 1 Tbsp adobe sauce
1/4 cup Heinz chili sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Drain the marinade off the ribs and discard. The marinade, not the ribs! Then preheat the oven to 325°. Use a heavy ovenproof pot (like a dutch oven) and sauté the bacon over medium heat just until it begins to brown. Remove the bacon to a plate, but leave the bacon grease. Sprinkle the ribs with salt and pepper, turn the heat up to medium high, and brown the meat on all sides, working in batches of about three ribs. When they are browned, remove them to a plate. I deglazed the pot with a little bourbon as one of the comments suggested, but I’m not sure how successful an idea that was. It seemed to evaporate almost immediately.

Add the onions, shallots, and garlic to the pot, turn it down to medium and cover. Cook until they are soft, stirring every once in awhile (for about 8-10 minutes). Then add the coffee and broth, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan for all the tasty brown bits. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Then add the bacon and ribs, cover, and put into the oven for about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

This recipe is best made a day or two in advance. That way it really gets the flavors absorbed into the meat and it’s fall off the bone tender. You can eat it now if you want, it’s just totally worth it to wait. Let it cool uncovered until it’s cold, then cover and put in the fridge. When you are going to reheat it, make sure to take all the fat off the surface (this will be easy when it’s chilled). Take out the ribs and boil the sauce until it’s reduced to 2 cups, which should take about 5 minutes.

I chose to rewarm the ribs on the grill to get some nice caramelization. I made a “glaze” based on a commenter’s suggestion. He didn’t say what proportions he used but it was coffee, brown sugar, and chili sauce. My glaze was pretty watery even though I reduced it for a while. I would recommend maybe using about a half cup coffee, a fourth cup chili sauce and two tablespoons of brown sugar. Put this on the ribs as you grill them. Serve over mashed potatoes, using the sauce as a gravy. It’s very, very tasty. In your mouth.

(Click here for printable recipe)

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