As I continue my introspective end of the year thoughts I am reminded of a request from a buddy: start blogging my recipes. If you’ve ever looked at the Flickr stream over on the right hand side of the current blog layout, you may notice that a lot of the pictures are of food. I assure you I’m a much better cook than photographer. While many of the things I make come directly from Cook’s Illustrated or Food Network, some are my own creations. While this hardly fits with the technology focus of my blog, it’s who I am.
So, my amigo in Nashville, this is for you.
Braised Beef Short Ribs with Malbec Gravy
This recipe uses classic French techniques to produce tender meat and flavorful sauce.
* 4-7 beef ribs, trimmed of excess fat
* Two tablespoons of unsalted butter
* Two medium onions, diced
* Four cloves of fresh garlic, minced
* Fresh thyme
* 1 heaping tablespoon of unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1 tbsp tomato paste
* Kosher salt
* Fresh-cracked pepper
* 4 slices of thick cut bacon
* Two celery stalks, sliced thick
* Two large carrots, peeled and sliced thick
* Two bay leaves
* 14-20 ounces of crimini or button mushrooms
* 2 cups of beef broth
* 1 bottle of Malbec
Pre-heat your oven to 300.
Allow the beef ribs to come up to room temperature and sprinkle with Kosher salt. If possible, allow them to rest on a wire rack for up to 1 hour before cooking. While the beef rests, pour the Malbec into a saucepan and reduce until it’s about 1 cup; this may take around ten minutes.
Cut the bacon into ¼” pieces and brown in an oven safe saucepan or searing pan, a Dutch oven will do in a pinch. If your culture forbids the eating of delicious swine, skip this step and use 2tbsp of vegetable oil instead. When the bacon is browned, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Depending on how fatty the bacon was you may wish to remove some of the rendered fat from the pan at this point. Season the beef ribs with pepper and sear on each side for about 1 minute over high heat. Remove the ribs and set aside.
Add the onions and brown until soft and translucent, this make take up to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and briefly cook until fragrant, around 30 seconds, be careful not to burn the garlic. Now add the flour and mix with the onions. Cook until the flour is browned, maybe as long as 2 minutes or so.
Side note: Why add the flour at this point and brown it? Many soups & sauces start with a base mixture called a roux, pronounced “roo”. A roux is often as simple as vegetable oil and flour cooked until the flour is copper colored. When flour is manipulated in this manner it forms gluten proteins, and some of it will stick to your pan. This is the good stuff that will make for thick, hearty sauce later on. This will also mean you won’t have to add flour later or do as much reducing to get the sauce to the consistency you want. You can skip this step and use a little corn starch later to make this gluten free.
With the flour browned, pour in the beef broth to deglace the pan. Make sure to scrape the pan diligently to remove anything that’s stuck to it: that’s the goodness. Turn the heat to high and add the carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, reduced Malbec, bacon, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Once the mixture is simmering, nestle the beef ribs in the pan, cover with foil, put in the oven and cook for a long time. I suggest at least four hours, but you can check for desired tenderness at any point after an hour.
Once the ribs have reached the desired tenderness, remove them from the sauce, turn off the oven and let them rest in there on a pan. Pour the sauce mixture through a strainer into a bowl to remove all the solids. Wash the mushrooms, halve or quarter them, and sear them briefly in the original sauce pan. Add the strained sauce back in and cook over high heat until the mushrooms are tender and the sauce is reduced to your desired consistency. Add the butter and whisk to combine. You can pour the sauce right over the ribs, I myself tend to serve this with mashed potatoes and parsnips.