Friday, January 13, 2012

French Slow and Low - Homemade Short Ribs

I’ve mentioned before that the art of barbecuing is similar in philosophy to traditional French cuisine. Both combine time with low heat to render the fat in otherwise tough cuts of meat, turning them exquisitely tender and juicy.

One of my Christmas gifts from my wife was a copy of Molly Stevens’s excellent cookbook All About Braising. Braising is the French technique of browning a meat or vegetable by cooking it in fat, then slowly simmering it with liquid in a covered container. If you’ve ever browned a roast in a skillet, then cooked it in a Crock Pot with vegetables and a little water or beef broth, you were braising. 

Last Saturday Donnell Farms was having a sale on beef short ribs at the Tsunami parking lot farmer’s market. So it seemed like a great time to stock up and try the short rib recipe from my new cookbook. This recipe uses a bottle of red wine, so I used the Big River Red from the local Old Millington Winery. I’ve also braised short ribs in Guinness in the past. There is just something about cooking them with alcohol that seems to bring out the best in them. 

 My default cooking wines come from the Old Millington Winery. I use the Big River Red for recipes that call for a red and the Vidal Blanc for recipes that call for a dry white. 

I made a marinade for the short ribs the day before I braised them. Like most traditional French recipes, this one started with carrots, celery and onions sauteed in olive oil and butter. Then you add a bottle of red wine and a cheesecloth pouch filled with bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, garlic and ground allspice berries. 

The short ribs get seasoned with kosher salt while the marinade cools. Once it is room temperature, you add it in and let the ribs marinate in the fridge until the next day. 

The next evening you remove the ribs, pat them dry, and strain the marinade into a separate bowl. In a large Dutch oven you sear the short ribs, then remove them. Then you saute a chopped onion, add in some garlic, tomato and mushrooms followed by the now-strained marinade wine and a little water and bring everything to a boil. Now its time to add the ribs along with the spice sack from the marinade and a couple sprigs of rosemary. Then the lid goes on the Dutch oven and it goes into a 325 degree oven for nearly three hours. The recipe takes a lot of time, but most of it is just spent waiting. There is no charcoal or smoke involved, but like barbecue the ample time and slow, steady heat gives you tender, delicious rib meat.  

 By the time they look like this the smell in the kitchen will be making your mouth water.

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