Purge the Bird and Braise Yourself Some Short Ribs
|Photo by Flickr user Dave Lifson|
I love me some good poultry. I've basked in the glory of wings, become reverent in the presence of a well-cooked turkey, waxed lyrical about Thanksgiving leftovers. But it's right about this time every year that I find out I have a poultry limit. It's time to flush the bird from my system. It's time to come home to red meat; red meat that mooed.
So what I want now is a hearty dose of cow, meaty and tender, that I can use to quiet my red meat cravings and feed any particularly tenacious friends and family who might still be lurking around. What I want is a copious amount of short ribs.
Unlike the beef ribs you see at a barbecue, short ribs are trimmed from the ends of ribs in the chuck and plate primals, either across the bone (flanken) or parallel to the bone (English style). They're short, extremely meaty, and tender. So get out your Dutch oven (the one that's a cast iron pot, not the one you use to torture your bed-mate) and grab some ribs. It's red meat time.
I'm giving you two ways to make short ribs: the one-day, down-n-dirty method, and the two-day, marinate-first method. The former has the sweet and hot components that I love so good, but the latter is based on the mighty Tom Colicchio's recipe. I recommend trying them both.
The One-Day Method
Heat a couple tablespoons of canola oil in the Dutch oven. Season 4 1/2 pounds of short ribs with salt and pepper, brown them almost to the point of crustiness, and set aside. Deglaze the pot with a quarter cup of red wine, then and add two quartered sweet onions, a can of chicken stock, 1/2 cup of chili sauce, three tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, five cloves of minced garlic, an eight-ounce can of pineapple chunks, a quarter cup of honey, one tablespoon of dried mustard, some crushed pepper flakes (If you need extra heat), and ground pepper. Add the short ribs and coat them well, then cover the pot and either simmer stovetop or bake in a 325-degree oven until the meat is stupidly tender. It should take a couple of hours. If you like a thicker sauce, add a bit of cornstarch, then serve over garlic mashed potatoes or rice. Note that if you're freaked by pineapple, try brown sugar.
|Photo by Flickr user consumedithis|
The Marinated, Two-Day Method
This recipe calls for six flanken-style short ribs (four pounds or so) that you may have to ask your butcher to cut for you. Heat two tablespoons of canola oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Season your ribs with salt and pepper, then brown them well, turning once, about 18 minutes total. Remove the ribs and put them in a shallow baking dish in a single layer. Add to the skillet a finely chopped onion, two sliced carrots, three sliced celery ribs, and three finely sliced garlic cloves. Cook over low heat until soft and lightly browned. Add a bottle of dry red wine and four thyme sprigs, bring to a boil over high heat, then pour over the ribs and let cool. Refrigerate overnight, turning the ribs once.
The next day, try to control your excitement as you preheat the oven to 350 and transfer your ribs to a cast iron pot or casserole. Add three cups of chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook in the lower third of the oven for about 90 minutes until tender. Uncover and braise for 45 minutes more, turning once or twice. By now the sauce should have reduced by about half, the meat should be even more tender, and you should be drooling.
Transfer the meat to a shallow baking dish, discarding the bones as they fall off. Strain the sauce and skim the fat, then pour it over the meat. If you have the self control, the ribs can be stored in the fridge for two days, but I can't see that happening, so instead: broil the meat, turning once, until glazed, about 10 minutes. Plate it, sauce it, eat it. Weep tears of joy.
If you've got the Dutch oven space, I say double either recipe. Not only are both of great as leftovers, but you might want extra to feed those pesky friends I mentioned. Of course, you always have the option of getting tough on them. Because now that you're getting back on the red meat, you'll be feeling strong like ox.
Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan. He lives in northern Palm Beach County and believes in the power of bone marrow.