Thursday, February 10, 2011

Short Ribs

With winter raging in its full fury outside the Commissary windows over the past week, we've hunkered down with some good comfort food dishes lately to warm up the insides. On Super Bowl Sunday, instead of watching the ad naseum pregame festivities, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen whipping up a batch of short ribs. This was my first attempt at a short rib recipe that I cut out of the Feb. 2009 issue of Wine Spectator. I'd waited this long mostly due to the fact that the ribs are a little hard to find around here - luckily, my local ethnic food specialty supermarket (which is starting to garner more and more of my grocery business) had a few packages of them in the meat cooler, so I scooped up about 3.75 lb worth.

The recipe itself follows pretty much the classic pattern of prepping undesirable cuts of meat for maximum flavor; that is, browning, sauteing of vegetables in the resulting rendered fat, deglazing/liquid reduction, and putting the meat back into the pot for long-term simmering. After about 2.5 hours in the oven, they were ready to go along with some garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli strascinati (see May '10 posting), and frozen biscuits (yes, I copped out at 3 homemade dishes cooking simultaneously - my sous-chefs are on permanent holiday). The flavor of the short ribs turned out really well; unfortunately, the ones I bought apparently were fattier than usual, so there wasn't a whole lot of edible meat on them. As a result, Mrs. Hackknife and I decided to put this recipe back into the pile until such time as I can get better short ribs from someplace (like an as-yet-to-be-identified butcher). In the meantime, here it is in case you want to give it a go:

4-5 lb. beef short ribs, cut into 3" pieces
leaves from 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
leaves from 1 sprig of marjoram
2 whole sprigs of sage
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried basil
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 c. full-bodied red wine (I used a cabernet-merlot blend from Tuscany)
1 1/2 c. beef broth (low sodium if you can find it)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Rub the ribs with salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and basil. In a large, deep skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sage and the ribs in batches, browning the meat well on all sides, about 10 minutes total per batch. Remove the ribs and set aside.

2. In the remaining fat, saute the onion and carrot until the onion is translucent and softening, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes more. Stir in the wine and the beef broth, scraping the pan bottom to loosen any browned bits, and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by a third to a half.

3. Add the bay leaves, ribs, and any drippings, and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and transfer to the oven. Let the meat roast gently for 2-3 hours, turning the ribs carefully once per hour. Remove from the oven when the meat is tender and starting to pull from the bone.

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