Braising meat is a technique that uses a lot of words people tend not to like; such as, technique, long, moist, succulent, tough. In reality, it is a very simple operation. Go down to your basement, and grab grandma's 78 pound cast iron pot, dust it off, and give it some love. My favorite cut to braise is short ribs. They are incredible as the main component on your plate, but when you pull the meat off the bone, it adds a seriously special element to whatever else you serve. I'm just going to throw this out there, I'm pretty cheap; in more ways than one. Cheap cuts of meat make for the best braise, and you can heat the house leaving the stove going all day!
Braising a pot of short ribs is best done, and most appreciated on a rainy, or snowy day. Light a fire, put on some slippers, pour some Bailey’s your coffee and set up shop in the kitchen. The “recipe” itself is a technique, how you add your own flavors is the beauty of it. Don't have grandma's pot? No worries! The best pot for braising is wider than it is tall. This allows everything to be under the braising liquid at the same time, and cook evenly. Make sure your pot has a lid too, you’ll need it!
Allow for 2-3 ribs per person.
Flour Seasoned, for dusting short ribs
Canola oil Enough to coat the bottom of your pot several times
½ pound Carrots + Parsnips; no need to peel, just cleaned and cut into ½ in. pieces
4 stalks Celery; chopped into ½ in. pieces
1 large Onion; diced. (white, yellow, sweet, Vidalia,)
2 tbs Garlic; minced.
1 quart Beef stock; homemade or boxed
1-2 cups Red wine; anything you’ve got that you’d drink (plus a glass for
1 small can Tomato paste
3 each Bay leaves
1 branch Rosemary; fresh. (if you don’t have fresh, use ½ tsp of dried)
1 branch Thyme; fresh.
So, you've got your pot ready, right? Swirl 2 or 3 times around the pot with some canola oil, and a pad of buttah', and heat over medium high heat. Grab a ziplock bag, and throw a few tablespoons of flour, a sprinkle of salt, and pepper into the bag along with your short ribs. Give it a good toss to coat evenly. Using tongs, lower them into your pot, they should really sizzle. You are looking for deep golden brown color on all sides. While the shorties are browning, dice up an onion, cut up a few carrots, parsnips and some garlic. When the ribs are browned on all sides, reserve them on a plate. Add all the veggies to the pot, and saute for several minutes until onions are translucent. Scrape half a cute little can of tomato paste into the pot, and stir to melt, and coat all the veggies. It should be good and dry in there. Grab a nice bottle of red wine, and deglaze the pot. You want to scrape up all those nice burnt bits and reduce the wine a bit. Add your ribs back into the pot, and add enough beef stock to almost cover the ribs, about 2/3 of the way up. I like to add a bay leaf or 2, a sprig of thyme and rosemary if I've got it, and put the lid on. You want a steady simmer- not a boil, and let it go! Every hour or so, give a turn to the ribs so they stay in the liquid, and cook evenly. Pour yourself the rest of that wine, take a nap, read a book, and let your husband take care of the dishes.The longer you can let this process go, the better. Minimum 4 hours. You should be able to barely pick up the ribs when done. The bones should fall out cleanly and meat fall apart.
Here is where you should be feeling super confident in your excellent braising skills, and feel a little loose to get creative. These ribs are incredible as is. Serve over some overly buttered egg noodles, with the veggies in the pot, and have at it. Serve short ribs over cheesy polenta, or mashed potatoes. With roasted carrots, or butternut, and peas on the side. Again, this is a cooking "method", what you do from here is just expressing yourself. Once you’ve got your braising technique down, the fun really begins!
Cranberry Braised Short Ribs
I love cranberries; sweet and oh so tart at the same time. Their beautiful wine color add such richness to any dish. Use the recipe above, but add a can of whole berry cranberry sauce right to the pot when you add the beef stock. The results will be a tart but rich gravy that pairs beautifully with spicy carrots, sweet butternut or garlicky greens.
Seasonal beers offer a huge amount of flavor to beef. Hops and grass fed beef are a meant to be together. Use the recipe above, but instead of wine, replace it with your flavorful seasonal brew. Serve with roasted potatoes and parmesan broccoli.
>Pull the meat from the ribs, and using two forks, shred it to smaller pieces from the bone. Strain vegetables from the sauce, and continue to reduce the sauce over medium heat. The veggies make such a flavorful pureé, just throw it in your food processor or blender and re-season. Serve the pulled meat over the veggies. With sauce spooned over the top.
>Pull the meat from the ribs, and using two forks, shred it to smaller pieces from the bone. Strain vegetables from the sauce, and continue to reduce the sauce over medium heat. Add meat back to the pot of sauce, and serve over risotto with caramelized onions and the braised vegetables on the side.
>Pull the meat from the ribs, and using two forks, shred it to smaller pieces from the bone. Strain vegetables from the sauce, and continue to reduce the sauce over medium heat. Add meat back to the pot of sauce, and serve over pillowy potato gnocchi.