Braised Short Ribs
So I want to use my Le Creuset dutch oven more, and was thinking of braising some short ribs with some vegetables.
Any good recipes? Tips? Suggestions? I'd like them to be super-tender.
re: Niki Rothman
That looks delish, Niki! Thanks for pointing me to it.
The butcher across the street usually has really tempting Niman short ribs, so I'll probably be cooking a lot of them this winter.
PS: Where did you have lunch/brunch in Alameda Sunday? Would you post about it on the SF board?
I made this recipe for honey and vinegar braised short ribs a few weeks ago. It was outstanding.
Be sure to read the comments which contain some good suggestions such as browning the ribs in the oven rather than the stove top. Defintely make them a day ahead so you can de-grease.
I discard the vegetables after the initial braise as they are pretty tired by that point. New veggies can be added the next day when you reheat. Celery root is great with this.
Linked my report for Zuni's Chimay braised short ribs w/ recipe. Very, very tasty especially if you like Chimay ale and French onion soup (the final pan gravy tastes like that). I'm not a big beer drinker but I love Chimay! Trader Joe's has it for a good price. I'd use a litte more than called for and reduce the broth. Drink the rest w/ the meal!
Key to very tender short ribs is LOW and SLOW. By low, I mean at the gentlest of simmers. This recipe uses the stovetop braising method while I've made short ribs in the oven too. Not sure which is better...
Not typical to braise side veggies along w/ the short ribs since they will break down too much. I served mine w/ a celery root and potato puree. Braised kale would be tasty too.
I may be exiled from Chow-ville for saying this, but check out the egullet website for the Braising 101 "class". It's a "cooks illustrated" style braising description that systematically evaluates cooking vessel, depth and type of braising liquid, and pre-browning vs. not browning. It's fantastic if you're into that sort of thing.
PS. Le Creuset is the preferred vessel, stock is the preferred liquid (at a depth of about 1/4th of the way up the meat), and browning is optional.
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The somewhat classic recipe is a red wine braise.
Liberally salt, then brown the ribs. You can do that on top of the stove or in the oven, but the point is to create the complex flavor compounds that arise from combining proteins and natural sugars in the presence of high heat - known as Maillard reactions. I've tried it both ways and find that the oven method doesn't do as good a job of that, though it sure is easier and less messy. Whichever method you choose, you want to develop a nice dark brown crust, not just change the color from red to grey.
Remove and reserve ribs, remove excess fat from the pot and discard. Add about a cup of mirepoix (diced onions, carrots, celery) per pound of ribs (that's about double what most recipes call for - I like the bigger flavors) and saute until not quite starting to brown. Place the ribs back on top of the vegetables. Add red wine and beef stock (about 50/50, or maybe a bit more on the wine side) to not quite cover ribs. Add a bay leaf or two and some thyme and bring to a boil on top of the stove, then cover and place in about a 300 degree oven, and cook for about 2 to 3 hours at a steady simmer. Turn the ribs from time to time if you happen to think of it.
A note on what's going on here - what makes the ribs tender is a chemical reaction that changes the tough connective tissue, known as collagen, to the very tender material known as gelatin that most of us are familiar with. The reaction requires heat and moisture (and time). Contrary to popular opinion, there's really not much difference between doing it at a very slight simmer or a roiling boil. Of course, the temperature inside your braising pot never exceeds 212F regardless of what the oven may be set at, or how high the stovetop burner is. Harold McGee devotes an entire chapter to this in his second book, The Curious Cook, and finds that there's no difference in results between boiling and bare simmering. "Low and slow" is indeed a fine technique, and necessary, for dry heat such as roasting or BBQ - but not important for braising.
At about the two-hour mark, start testing the ribs to see if they are done. When the ribs are done, you should be able to easily slide a bamboo skewer or similar object through the thickest part of the meat with no resistance. It should be impossible to pick up the ribs by piercing them with a fork and lifting straight up. I've had ribs that were very tender at less than two hours, and ribs that required three - only testing will tell for sure.
Now here's what will turn your already excellent ribs into something sublime. Carefully remove the ribs, cover, and keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid, degrease (I like those things with the pour spout attached at the bottom), and reduce the liquid until it's a small amount of near-syrupy essence. Then enrich with some butter, adjust seasoning and serve over the ribs. I like to serve them over garlic mashed potatoes - you can get a nice presentation by using the potatoes to "stack" the ribs a bit, and they do a great job of catching the sauce that runs off the ribs.