Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Braised Short Ribs

When you’re looking over a menu and see the word “braised” you know you’re going to get something really good. Cooking something low and slow for a long time means the flavors have a chance to really develop and the meat turns into something that just melts in your mouth. So any time I find myself with a free weekend and an appetite, I get down my trusty Dutch Oven, get some great meat, and start braisin'! 

Beef Short Ribs are a great choice for braising. They're much meatier than most ribs, and not too fatty. I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, who always had delicious, though not super healthy, recipes. But when you're braising meat, I think you should put health out of your mind and just enjoy! We got our ribs at Fresh Market, which is a nice place for high quality ingredients. We can't always find cuts like Short Ribs at Kroger. 

8 whole Beef Short Ribs
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour
4 oz diced pancetta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 shallots, minced
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary

First you want to season your meat with salt and pepper (both sides!) and then dredge them in flour and set them aside. After that, cook your pancetta in the Dutch Oven over medium heat, making sure to get it very crispy and render all the fat. The recipe says to remove the pancetta, keeping the grease but we thought it'd be very silly to just waste all that meaty goodness, so we left it in. Totally up to you what you want to do.

Add the olive oil and brown the ribs on all sides on high heat. It shouldn't take too long, about 45 seconds a side. You're not trying to cook the ribs, just brown them. Be careful about burning here, you don't want to have to throw away that flavorful oil, so if things start to get black, turn down the heat.

Once the ribs have been browned, turn down the heat to medium and cook the diced onions, carrots and shallots for two minutes. Pour in your wine and deglaze the pan (scrape the tasty browny bits off the bottom). Bring this to a boil and cook for another couple minutes before adding the broth, 1 teaspoon salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. Gather up your browned ribs and submerge them into the liquid and add the whole thyme and rosemary sprigs. I like to tie my sprigs together with string. Seems to help them stay together and not let all the leaves fall off into the broth. 

Cook in the oven with the lid on at 350 degrees for two hours. Remember to cover your Dutch Oven's top knob with foil, to prevent it from drying out and cracking over time. After two hours, reduce heat to 325 degrees and cook for another 30-45 minutes until the ribs are tender and falling off the bone. Remove from the oven and let sit with the lid on for 20 minutes. She says to skim fat off the top of the liquid. This has always been difficult for me to accomplish, so I skipped it, but you can totally try if you are game.

We served the ribs with some brown sugar glazed carrots (yum!) but you could serve with mashed potatoes for a hearty meal. You could also add a little flour or cornstarch to the broth and thicken it over heat if you wanted more of a gravy. Anyway you do it, the ribs themselves will be very flavorful, tender and braised to perfection!

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