Monday, March 28, 2016

Red Wine Braised Beef Ribs


There is something about the art of braising meat that brings out the flavor in a way no other form of cooking can do.  The best part about it is that essentially all you are doing is throwing everything in a pot and letting it slowly cook for hours, but with a fancy french name!

As many of your know one of my favorite ways to spend any day is with friends and family and typically there is a large and wonderful meal in the works!  When we are all together, some coming in from out of town, it is like we hit our stride.  We all fall into sync and assume our roles.  

For some that is pouring the wine, for others it is trying to stay on top of cleaning the many dishes being dirtied up one on top of the other, but for me and my friend Michael we make the mess.  I prefer to think of it more as artistry in the works, but for those in the grand stands it looks like the aftermath of an atomic bomb of flour and spices!

With all of that being said, it is recipes like this one that keep said damage to a minimum.  

The beauty of braising!

Red Wine Braised Beef Ribs
4-6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
3 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 sweet onion, peeled and cut into eighths
3 medium carrots, peeled and coarse chopped
3 stalks celery, rinsed and coarse chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
12 ounces tomato paste
1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon (or other full bodied red wine)
2 cups water
14 stems of fresh thyme, bundled and tied with butchers twine
3 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Season the short ribs on all sides with fresh cracked black pepper and 2 1/2 teaspoons of the salt. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of a large dutch oven, roughly 3-4 tablespoons. Heat over high heat until hot.

Using tongs, gently add half of the short ribs to the hot oil (you do this in 2 batches because if the pan is overcrowded, the short ribs will steam instead of getting the nice brown crust that you want!). Sear on all 4 sides until a nice deep brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and repeat process with second half of short ribs.
 
(Clearly we were feeding an army...)

While the short ribs are browning, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to a food processor or blender and pulse into a coarse paste (You can do this step ahead if you want).

Drain all of the oil & rendered fat from the pan (BE CAREFUL! The oil is PIPING HOT!). Add an additional 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and reduce heat to medium-high. Add the pureed veggies and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes. 

Add the tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the red wine and stir until everything is well combined, scraped the bottom of the pan to get all the browned (yummy) bits off into the sauce! 

Using the tongs, carefully nestle the short ribs back into the sauce 

(Note: be sure they are all covered by the sauce as much as possible). Add the thyme bundles and bay leaves and top with 2 cups of water (until short ribs are just barely covered).  

Put lid on dutch oven and bake in preheated oven for 3 1/2 hours, turning the ribs 2 hours into cooking, and add additional water if needed 
(you want the ribs to remain mostly covered in braising liquid).

Note: Add carrots during last hour of cooking if desired.

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