Braised Short Ribs

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I may have found my second-to-last meal. If I have any say in my last meal on earth, I want it to be my mother’s biryani. If I have any say in my second-to-last meal? Well, it had best be these short ribs.

I’m not much of a meat person. I can’t go two meals without eating vegetables, but I’ve been known to go weeks without having a piece of meat. I eat a lot of beans and lentils and probably consume too much dairy, so I tend to get my protein from other sources. That being said, there are few foods in this world that I love more than slow-cooked, tender, fall off the bone ribs in a wine-enriched, vegetable studded sauce. Is your mouth watering yet? While I warn you that this recipe takes almost three hours to make, it is totally worth every millisecond.

I served these glorious slabs of deliciousness atop some instant polenta. For those of you unfamiliar with it, polenta is a staple in Italian cooking. It’s essentially cornmeal, cooked in broth until it is creamy. Conveniently, you can buy quick-cook versions at the Italian grocery store (straight from Italy!) for about the same price as the original, twenty minute stuff. Just whisk 1 cup of quick-cook polenta into 3 cups of broth (or, in my case, 2 cups broth and 1 cup water); add the polenta in a steady stream so as to prevent clumps. Stir for a couple of minutes until creamy, add some salt and pepper, then either throw in some parm and a tablespoon of butter or a tablespoon of mascarpone cheese (a little parm doesn’t hurt here either). The perfect side dish for any hearty meal.

So, if the apocalypse is coming, I would like two days and an expense account at my local Whole Foods. Girl’s gotta eat! Happy eating.

Braised Short Ribs
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman. I am a firm believer that almost all things taste better cooked in wine. Meat is at the top of my list of things that improve with the addition of some Chianti. The slow braise literally transforms the meat to the most tender, juicy, succulent….I give up. There are no words. If you really really really hate/cannot cook with wine, however, you can probably make this with broth. It just won’t taste as complex or rich. But, if you can, I seriously suggest using wine. The flavor is out of this world.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 to 10 short ribs, patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup AP flour
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1, 8-oz package button mushrooms, diced
  • 2 hearts celery (I say hearts because I accidentally only broke off 3/4 of the rib…), diced
  • 2 cups red wine (none of that sweet stuff. I used a Chianti)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 sprigs thyme

Directions:

  • First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Next, in a heavy-bottomed, oven-friendly large pot or a Dutch oven (if you are so blessed to own one), cook the bacon over medium heat. Let them release all that lovely bacon fat.

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  • While the bacon is cooking, season the short ribs with half of the salt and pepper. Dredge half the short ribs in flour, shaking off any excess.
Say hello to my little friends

Say hello to my little friends

  • Once the bacon is crisp, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Add the olive oil to the bacon fat and raise the heat to high.
  • When the oil mixture is warm, add the dredged short ribs. Brown on all sides–turning each side after about 45 seconds to one minute.
Mid-browning of the second batch

Mid-browning of the second batch

  • While the first half is browning, dredge the remaining ribs.
  • Remove browned ribs from pot and transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining ribs. You should still have plenty of oil/grease in the pan.

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  • Once all the ribs have browned, the bottom of your pot should be covered in brown bits–known as fond. Do not despair that you’ve done something wrong–fond is delicious and the beginnings of a most fantastic sauce.
  • To your pot, add the carrots, celery, onion, shallots, and mushrooms. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the brown bits. Cook for about three minutes, then add the red wine and scrape up any remaining fond.
The other things that go in your pot

Those other things that go in your pot

  • Bring this mixture to a boil. Boil for two minutes, then add the broth. Stir to combine. Add the remaining salt and pepper and taste. Add more of each if necessary.
  • Add the short ribs back into the pot, along with the fresh herbs.

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  • Cover and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 2 hours at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • After two hours, reduce the temperature to 325. Continue cooking for 40 minutes, until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone.

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  • Remove from the oven and cool for 20-30 minutes. Skim off and discard as much fat as possible from the top of the pot.
  • Serve over mashed potatoes or polenta.

Serves 4 to 5.

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