Today, as promised…
BRAISED SHORT RIBS AND ROOT VEGETABLE MASSACRE!!!
Or, Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine Gravy, if you prefer.
This is food for special occasions. This is food for loved ones. This is food to be savored and enjoyed withsomeone important!
This is basically a recipe I found in Bon Apetite magazine a couple of years ago (http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/1999/09/braised_short_ribs_with_red_wine_gravy).
Or rather, my husband found it in the grocery store check-out line and said something along the lines of,
“If I buy this magazine for you, will you make me these short ribs for my birthday?”
And I took one look at the photo and said
These short ribs are amazing. They are flavorful, tender (if cooked right) and the ultimate fix it and forget it food. They need hours to braise before they become fall-apart deliciousness,but the braising part is easy and low maintenance. Just stick ‘em in the oven and leave ‘em there until dinner time!
That’s not to say this wasn’t a labor intensive meal. There was plenty to do while the ribs were braising. Make Perfect Garlic Mashed Potatoes, clean the kale, do laundry…
Oh wait. That’s a different kind of labor.
Start with a big pile of vegetables.
There are onions, turnips, celery, carrots, parsnips and sundried tomatoes.
The original recipe didn’t call for parsnips, but I like ‘em, so I used ‘em. That’s the beauty of this sort of recipe! You can always adjust the ingredients to reflect your tastes!
The only thing I wouldn’t fudge on this recipe are the sundried tomatoes. They are beautiful and flavorful and add such richness and depth of flavor to the sauce…the recipe would really suffer without them. So if you don’t like sundried tomatoes, you probably won’t want to make this recipe.
Aw, who am I kidding? Who doesn’t like sundried tomatoes?
Anyways, dice ‘em all up. Then peel several whole cloves of garlic and toss them into the pile…no need to mince or chop or do anything with them. They’ll braise so long they will fall apart on their own…I promise!
Set it all aside. For now.
Now’s also the point at which you want to start pre heating your oven to 275°, and heating a large, heavy pot over low heat.
Cast iron is best.
Cast iron is ideal.
Cast iron is the bomb.
Cast iron is…well it’s the only thing in my kitchen I actually can’t destroy!
It also cooks well.
If you do not have a large, cast iron dutch oven and a large cast iron skillet, get thee hence and purchase one. Immediately!
Now grab ye a large package of short ribs. Lay them out on paper towels. Pat them dry.
You must pat the ribs dry. If you they aren’t dry…they won’t brown!!!
Now season up some flour with salt and pepper.
Season with abandon!
And dredge the short ribs in the flour, shaking off the excess.
Set the short ribs aside for a few minutes while you bring the pot up to medium heat.
Letting the seasoned, floured meat sit for a few minutes will allow the flour to create a crust over the meat, which will give you amazing brownage and crispiness and flavor.
Pour several tablespoons of cooking oil into the pot, and add the short ribs.
Don’t rush this part. Time is what really makes this dish so wonderful! If you need to, do this in batches so all the ribs have plenty of room.
Let the short ribs brown without disturbing for several minutes. Brown them on every side. Every short rib should have a beautiful, caramelized crust on every side and be crispy and mouthwatering.
Be patient. Your taste buds will thank you!
When the short ribs have all been browned, pull them from the pot and set them aside.
But don’t eat them.
Drain the grease from the pot, and pour in a couple tablespoons of fresh olive oil. Dump in all the diced vegetables, the sundried tomatoes, and the garlic.
Stir them around, season them with salt, and let ‘em sweat!
The vegetables will put off a bit of liquid. Let them cook until the liquid has evaporated and the veggies begin to brown a bit.
While this is happening, open up a bottle of dry red wine.
Pour yourself a large glass.
(Look! There’s my camera!)
But don’t drink it. You need it.
There seems to be a lot of self-denial involved in the execution of this recipe.
But don’t worry, the end result is pure decadence!
Pour the wine into the pot,
Then stick your face into the steam and inhale deeply!
Let the wine reduce by about half, then pour in a big box of beef stock.
Then snuggle those short ribs back into all the beautiful red wine and root vegetable deliciousness.
Top the whole thing with several sprigs of thyme and sage.
This is also the point at which I would have added a bay leaf or two, if I weren’t a complete space cadet and nerdface.
Don’t be a space cadet and nerdface! Use the bay leaf!
Bring it all up to a rolling boil. Then cover it. Then stick it into your preheated oven. Then forget about it for at least two hours.
And after at least two hours, this is what you will have:
Actually, this is what you will have after about three and a half hours.
I used that time to do some laundry. Read a little. Watch some TV. And make perfect mashed potatoes.
I will tell you how to make Perfect Garlic Mashed potatoes at the end of this post. Everyone should know how. It’s easy and fun and once you’ve made them this way once, there is no turning back!
Anyways. Make Perfect Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Then finish the short ribs.
Pull the short ribs out of the pot and set them aside for a few minutes.
Spoon the excess grease off the vegetables. Do this before the next step, or all the beef fat will be inextricably pureed into the vegetables and even though it will be unbelievably delicious and not at all greasy, you will feel guilty with every bite you take.
Not that I would know.
Pass all the vegetables and braising liquid through a food mill.
(This part is why Hubby and I call this The Root Vegetable Massacre. You see, the first time I made this recipe I didn’t have a food mill. I also didn’t have a food processor. I didn’t even have a blender.
So I passed everything through my potato ricer.
Zee root vegetables did NOT agree vis zee potato ricer!
Forty-five minutes and one root vegetable explosion later, there was puree on the all the walls, all the cabinets, the ceiling…even the windows on the other side of the apartment! Two years later we moved out. And I was still finding dried, crusty splatters of puree on things!
The moral of the story is, even if you don’t have a food mill; don’t use your potato ricer!)
Pour the gravy back into the pot, add the short ribs back in and keep warm until ready to eat.
While the potatoes baked and the short ribs braised, I also cooked up some Garlic Lemon Kale.
I know. This was a very ambitious meal for me!
I love kale. Kale is delicious. Kale is hearty. Kale is…Kale is…
It defies description.
And below I will tell you how I like to make it…
But in the meantime, I will tell you how to serve this amazing meal forth.
Scoop yourself a generous ladleful of gravy. Spread it around the plate, and then scoop yourself a generous spoonful of Perfect Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Balance a beautiful Braised Short Rib atop the potatoes, and then mound yourself up a generous pile of Garlic Lemon Kale.
Pour yourself a glassful of the wine you used in the ribs.
Devour. Drink. Repeat as needed.
And if you are feeling particularly giving, you could even share some with someone special!
Here’s the recipes!
BRAISED SHORT RIBS AND ROOT VEGETABLE MASSACRE!!
3 lbs. meaty short ribs
1/3 lb. carrots, scrubbed and diced
1/3 lb. parsnips, peeled and diced
1/3 lb. turnips, peeled and diced
¼ lb. celery, diced
6-8 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 oz. sundried tomatoes
2 c. dry red wine
32 oz. beef stock
Flour (for dredging)
3-5 sprigs of thyme
2-3 sprigs sage
2 bay leaves
Begin heating a large, heavy pot over low heat.
Prepare the vegetables.
Season the flour generously with salt and pepper. Pat the short ribs dry and dredge in the flour mixture. Set aside.
Increase the heat under the pot to medium.
Pour in a few tablespoons of cooking oil and add the short ribs. You may need to do this in batches if there is not enough room in the pot don’t over crowd them or they will steam instead of browning. Brown them thoroughly on every side. Be patient with this step…let the ribs caramelize for several minutes on each side without disturbing them! When all the ribs are amber colored and crispy, remove them from the pot and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 275°
Pour the excess grease out of the pot, then pour in fresh oil and add all the vegetables. Season with salt. Let cook until any liquid released from the vegetables has evaporated.
Pour in the red wine and let simmer and reduce for several minutes. Pour in the beef stock. Add the ribs back into the pot; then top with herbs and bring to a rolling boil.
Cover the pot and place in the oven.
Allow ribs to braise until tender and falling off the bone, at least two hours. Check to make sure the pot isn’t too dry. If all the liquid has evaporated, add more beef stock or water by the cupful.
When the ribs are tender, pull from the pot and set aside.
Remove the herb sprigs. Spoon any excess grease off the vegetables, and then pass all the vegetables and the braising liquid through a food mill.
Place the ribs back in the pot and warm through. Serve with Perfect Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Garlic Lemon Kale (see below).
Eat and be happy!
PERFECT GARLIC MASHED POTATOES
This is the sort of recipe I find easiest to give in ratios!
1 lb russet potatoes per two people, peeled and diced
2-3 peeled cloves of garlic per pound of potatoes
2/3 c. cream per pound of potatoes
2 tablespoons butter per pound of potatoes
Salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Additional milk or cream as needed
Place the potatoes and garlic in a large pot and cover with cold water. Sprinkle generously with salt and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and return to the pot. Cover and let sit.
Meanwhile, heat the cream and butter until the butter is melted. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Pass the potatoes and garlic through a potato ricer. Pour the cream mixture over and fold in gently.
Do not beat.
Do. Not. Beat.
Add more milk or cream as needed until the potatoes reach the consistency of a very thick puree. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed (potatoes always seem to need more salt than you think they will.) Try not to over mix them or they will become gluey!
Pour the potatoes into an oven proof dish. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until fluffy and heated through.
(Baking is the key. Baking your mashed potatoes makes them fluffy and wonderful.
These potatoes will be creamy, fluffy, rich, garlicky and decadent! They are never dry or gluey, and if there are any undercooked lumps they will soften during the baking process.
There is nothing worse than a crunchy, undercooked lump in your mashed potatoes. Undercooked potatoes are a crime.
Lumpy potatoes are fine; undercooked is a crime.
And the moral of the story is, don’t undercook your potatoes!)
GARLIC AND LEMON KALE
2 bunches kale, washed, stems removed, torn or chopped roughly
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and garlic. Sauté until garlic is fragrant but not browned, just a few seconds.
Add kale in batches, turning with tongs as the kale wilts. If the bottom of the pan is so dry the kale begins to stick, add ¼ c. water at a time. The steam will also help cook the kale.
When all the kale is added, continue to stir and cook until all the kale is wilted and all the liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat. Squeeze the lemon juice over the kale and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste.