Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What's for dinner: boneless short ribs

I’ve always wanted to cook short ribs, they are such a good candidate for my favorite cooking technique, braising. The other day I picked up some boneless chuck short ribs at the local warehouse store, they looked beautiful and I just had to have them. Also picked up mushrooms and new red potatoes, with stew on my mind.

I kind of started with chef Tyler Florence’s recipe for “bistro-style short ribs” but, as usual, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. What I borrowed from him is the use of pureed mirepoix as a base for a braise. (He also uses this in making Bolognese sauce, and I’ve done that, too, with good results.) The boneless ribs (kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?) did have a lot of outside fat, which I trimmed off, and inside marbling which was going to make the sauce very good.

I cut the meat into 2”x3” chunks and seared it hard on a griddle, to get more flavor into the braise. I then cooked the mirepoix puree - carrots, onions, celery, tomato, garlic – in my oval braisier until it smelled cooked and some of the moisture had cooked off. Added 2 cups of leftover pinot noir. (Yes, I know, how often in my house is wine “left over?” Not often, but that’s beside the point. We’ve found a bargain pinot that we like quite a bit, Pepperwood Grove, and at its price point I don’t mind using it for cooking as well as drinking.) The night before, I had taken 2 pounds of white mushrooms, quartered them, and cooked them in the oven, covered, until I had nice mushroom juice. I reduced the juice by half and added that and a cup of beef broth to the pan, and brought it to a boil. Stirred in the mushrooms and put all the meat into the pan, made sure the liquid covered it. Covered the pan and put it into a 325 degree oven for three hours. I skimmed off the fat that accumulated on top of the sauce, didn’t really need that in there. Served over smashed red potatoes, this was just great. Maybe a little heavy for an indian summer day, but we didn't care.

Tonight we’re having baby back ribs, nine or ten hours in the oven, I rubbed them Monday with a nice seasoning that includes Spanish smoked paprika, to give them a little bbq taste. I will mop them today with a baste that includes cider vinegar, mustard, honey, thyme, and savory among other things. It’s a Carolina-style baste, they do usually seem to use yellow mustard. More on that later, when we see how they turn out.

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