This is the second short rib recipe I've attempted at the Commissary. For this one, Daniel Duane of Men's Journal is the recipe source - I cribbed it from a "Cooking with Beer" article in the March 2011 issue. It's a little bit simpler than the Wine Spectator version I tried last year. The gimmick is that you use a Belgian beer (Chimay Red, in this case, although any beer will do as long as it's not too bitter) as the braising liquid, the idea being that the beer helps tenderize the tough cut of meat (i.e., the short ribs) and adds flavor to the whole melange. Here's the recipe:
Approx. 2 cups Chimay Red (can be found at better liquor stores)
1-2 Tbsp. canola oil
2.5 lb beef short ribs
3 medium onions (about 1.5 lb), sliced 1/4" thick
2 bay leaves
1 tsp white peppercorns
a few dried porcini mushrooms
Preheat oven to 300F. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet or dutch oven on high heat. Dry ribs with a paper towel, salt generously, and sear on all sides. Add onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, and dried porcini. Pour in enough ale to bring the liquid to about 3/4 of the way up the meat. Cover the skillet partway with a lid, place in the oven, and cook at the barest of simmers for 2 hours or until the meat is tender enough to pull apart with a pair of forks. Use a gravy separator to remove fat from the braising liquid. Divide the meat and onions among bowls, then pour some liquid in each. Serve with mustard on the side.
I made a couple of minor revisions out of necessity. First, I had some difficulty finding dried porcini mushrooms, or at least identifying them. My local ethnic grocery store had a small rack of dried mushroom packets from somewhere Slavic (Poland? Belarus?); unfortunately, they were poorly labeled, not to mention expensive. Rather than guess at whether or not the puzzling mushrooms inside were porcini, I opted to leave out this ingredient (possibly robbing my dish of some precious umami as a result). I also couldn't find white peppercorns, so I used some black ones I had at home. We had some carrots left over from Hackknife Jr.'s party that I threw into the pot for a little variety.
Other than making a mess with the gravy separator (it either doesn't work so well or I need some instruction on it), I didn't have any trouble pulling the recipe together. The final result was, well, not bad, but a little fatty again (apparently, finding decent short ribs is not so easy) and somewhat potent owing to the black peppercorns (which, I think, are more robust than the white ones). I'll keep this one around for future consideration in the event I can find better ribs or a different meat cut (brisket? oxtail?) to try....