Sunday, February 22, 2009

Home Cookin' - Short Ribs

Home Cookin' - Short Ribs
Short ribs don't take talent to cook. They take talent to cut. 
These ribs had about two inches of meat on them.
So here's how I rolled. Put 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt in a plastic bag. Rinse and dry the ribs. Put them in the bag one at a time and shake them up. Knock off the excess.
In a Dutch oven or similar device, heat up enough fat to brown the ribs. Brown them well, but don't scorch. I use bacon fat if I have it. It puts a little extra flavor in the mix. Butter or vegetable oil also work. Don't use olive oil as it tends to not brown as well.
It takes time. Be patient. Don't throw them all in the pot at the same time. Get a nice crust on them.
I have no idea how old this pot is, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. It weighs about 10 pounds and it's uglier than a mud fence, but it distributes heat well, holds heat, and is airtight. The lid weighs about five pounds.

Like I said, be patient. All of the brown goodness (fond) at the bottom of the pot is going to be the basis for your sauce.

Of course, throwing two cups of nice Demi Glace in the pot doesn't hurt. You can use beef broth if you must. It won't taste as good, but it will do.

Dice up some veggies. This is fun and gives you a chance to practice your knife skills. It doesn't matter what they look like when you're done as you're going to strain them out anyhow. I used a package of mushrooms, a large onion, a roasted pepper, a couple of sun-dried tomatoes, two cloves of garlic, and a 6 oz. can of tomato paste.


Deglaze the pot while keeping the ribs warm on another plate. I used 1/2 cup of cognac. Do not get your face near the pot when you're doing this. It can flame up and you'll lose your eyebrows. Let it boil down until it's almost dry, then put in your demi, the veggies, and a tablespoon of bouquet garni, or use the real thing. A sprig or two of sage, bay leaf, thyme, wrapped up with butchers' twine or in a cheesecloth bag. Once again, you're going to strain this so it doesn't matter what the stuff looks like that you're throwing in the pot.
Bring all of this goodness to a simmer, then put it in the oven. If you're in a hurry you can cook it at 225 for two or three hours or until they're fork-tender. I cooked these at 175 for 18 hours. All the fat renders, leaving nothing but tender meat.
When you're ready to serve, put the ribs in another pan, cover and keep warm. Strain the sauce. Twice. Maybe three times. Reduce until it's fairly thick. Skim off any fat, bubbles, scum. If you've got the time, strain it again.
Make some mashed potatoes, polenta, whatever you feel like serving this on. Crisp the ribs up under a broiler for a few minutes, then place them on the potatoes, sauce them, and you've got a nice romantic, impressive, tasty dish. I served this on Valentines Day at Snowshoe. I'd done all the prep and cooking a week in advance, then froze them using my favorite new kitchen gadget, the Handi-Vac. Once we got up there, I just thawed, crisped, sauced and served.
Serve this with a big cab or a burgundy and a crusty baguette.
Not the finest China, but it sure tasted good. Hope you enjoyed reading about this. Please feel free to comment.
Better yet, try the recipe and THEN comment.
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