Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Big, Beefy Short Ribs

In the mood for an old-fashioned meat, carrots and potatoes dinner? This is an old family favorite that goes way back. There's a lovely German-influenced background hint of sweet and sour, and it's very satisfying. I cut all the excess fat off before cooking, so it's much more low-cal and heart-healthy than the average short ribs recipe. I like my juicy, tender ribs with carrots and lots of gravy over a pile of fluffy mashed Yukon Gold potatoes. Allow about 4 hours total including prep and cooking time. Serves 4. Maybe.

3 lb beef short ribs, bone in
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 TB red wine vinegar
1 TB raw honey (benefits and locator for the US here)
2 c vegetable stock or homemade chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 long sprig fresh tarragon or 1/2 tsp dried
6-8 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1+" pieces
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1" dice
Big handful of parsley, finely minced

Preheat oven to 300*

Coat the bottom of a dutch oven with EVOO, about 3 TB or so, over medium heat on the stove top. Thoroughly dry the short ribs with paper towels and trim all the excess fat off, like this:

The big flavor is going to come from the marrow (see that one bone that's big and white? Intense flavor!), and the fact that you took your time to really brown the meat well - believe me, you don't need the fat.

Cut in between the bones to make separate ribs and season generously with salt and pepper. Brown the ribs in batches, don't crowd the pieces, and make sure every side is a really nice, dark brown before turning. The meatiest side takes about 4 minutes, the other sides about 2 minutes each. Don't rush this step!

Turn off the heat, add 1 c of the stock, and using the edge of a wooden spatula or spoon, scrape up all the brown bits. Add the rest of the stock, vinegar, honey, and garlic. Taste and add more honey to your preference; remember it's supposed to be a balance of sweet and sour. For me, 1 TB of honey is just right.  Put the ribs back in, meaty side in the stock. (See how dark the stock is already? That's from scraping up all the goodness in the bottom of the pot ;-).)

Cover and bake on the center rack for 2 hrs. After the 1st hr, turn the ribs so the pieces of meat that weren't in the broth are now, & return to oven for the 2nd hr. The stock will have cooked down, even with the lid on, but remember, the carrots and onion will add more liquid.

Add the herbs, carrots and onion, and continue cooking for another 1.5 hrs. I know this sounds like a long time for carrots and onions, but remember they're cooking at a very low heat, and in this dish, we like them soft. If you prefer your carrots to have more crunch, you can always add them in during the last hour. After 30 min, check the carrots and onion and stir them down in if you need to.

At the end of the cooking time,the meat should be very tender and shred easily with a fork. Taste sauce, adding salt and pepper if needed (it probably won't), and remove tarragon and thyme sprigs. Take out the ribs, remove the bones and cut off the connective membrane before putting in a serving dish (or straight onto your plate, LOL.)

Pan Gravy: possibly the best part. 
Using a slotted spoon, take out all the carrot, onion and garlic from the dutch oven and put them alongside the meat. Pour out the remaining stock into a fat separator, or into a measuring cup and spoon off the surface layer of EVOO and fat. Once the fat is skimmed off, you'll have about 8-9 fl oz of stock left. Over medium heat, add 1 TB EVOO and a rounded TB of potato flour, whisking to combine and cook the flour. Slowly pour the stock back in, whisking constantly, until it's at the consistency you like. Taste for salt & pepper and serve alongside your platter of meat and veg.

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