The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.
Two years ago I cooked Braised Beef Short Ribs for the first time. Elise, at Simply Recipes, raved about her father’s Braised Beef Short Ribs, so I had to try them, and they are the most amazingly succulent, fall-off-the-bone delicious ribs I’ve ever eaten.
So when the Daring Cooks braising challenge included a short rib recipe, I was excited to try it. The recipes are very similar. We liked the sauce in Elise’s recipe a bit better, but Michael Ruhlman’s addition of gremolata added a fabulous, fresh finishing touch to the ribs.
The gremolata is a combination of minced garlic, lemon zest and parsley sprinkled over the top of the ribs right before serving. A fresh burst of flavor that’s the perfect contrast to the slow roasted beef, and would be a wonderful addition to other many braised dishes.
If you’re not familiar with braising, you definitely need to give it a try.
Typically, meat is seared in hot fat which helps to add flavor and aromas, improves color (browning), and texture (crust). It is then submerged in liquid and cooked slowly and gently at low heat.
Braising has several advantages over other cooking methods in that it provides for uniform cooking when done in an oven with heat coming from all sides instead of just the bottom of the pan as well it requires less attention as it’s cooked at a slow and steady temperature for longer periods. Other advantages are that it clears the stove top for other preparations, the dish may be prepared in advance and the flavor improves over time!
I made the ribs the day before I served them. Chilling the cooked ribs in the fridge overnight makes it easy to remove the excess fat from the rich, delicious braising liquid.
- Canola oil, for browning the ribs (can use any mild to non-flavored oil)
- Plain/all-purpose flour, for dredging
- 8 beef short ribs (3 1bs ) at least 1" thick
- 2 large onion, cut into a large dice, divided
- Kosher Salt, to taste
- 4 carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces, divided
- 2 celery stalks cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups Zinfandel or other fruit-heavy red wine (you may use beef stock or a combo with water)
- 1 head of garlic, cut horizontally
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup honey (you may substitute 2 tablespoons brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon butter, for sautéing
- 1 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1/3 oz/10 gm) minced fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (1/3 oz/10 gm) minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (3/8 oz/12 gm) grated lemon zest.
- In a heavy ovenproof pot, add enough oil to cover the bottom about ¼” (5 mm).
- Put some flour on a plate and dredge the short ribs (or your choice of meat) on all sides and shake off the excess.
- When the oil is hot, add the ribs/meat and brown on all sides – you may have to do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan and steam instead of sear. You want to form a nice crust on the beef meat. There is lots of flavor in this.
- Remove the ribs/meat and drain on paper towel.
- Preheat the oven to very low 250°.
- Drain off any remaining oil, and wipe pot clean.
- Add a little canola oil to coat the bottom of the pot, add half the onions and cook over medium heat until the onions have softened.
- Add a sprinkle of salt.
- Add half the carrots and all the celery (refrigerate the onions and carrots for use later). Cook for 5 minutes – the longer you cook the vegetables and they caramelize you develop flavor – so you can brown them up.
- Add tomato paste and stir around to heat through.
- Add the wine (or stock/water if using) – 3 cups is just about the entire bottle and if it’s too early to enjoy a glass then you can add the entire bottle!
- Add the garlic – its ok for the cloves to be unpeeled but remove the outer layers.
- Add the honey and peppercorns.
- Add the bay leaves.
- Season with a sprinkle of salt.
- Place the ribs/meat in the pot – its ok if they go on top of each other now.
- Bring to a simmer.
- Cover pot with the lid ajar or make a parchment lid to fit.
- Place in the oven and cook for 4 hours.
- Remove the pot from the oven and allow cooling. Remove ribs meat and place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Strain the braising liquid and allow chilling - then removing the congealed fat.
- Sear mushrooms by placing them in a hot dry sauté or frying pan and cook for a minute or two each side, while pressing down with the spatula.
- Melt butter in your braising pot.
- Add the remaining onions and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add ribs and mushrooms.
- Add the reserved braising liquid.
- Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until carrots a fork tender.
- For the Gremolata, stir together the parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Don’t skip this part – the Gremolata adds so much to this dish. You can also use orange zest too!
- Serve ribs with mashed potato, buttered egg noodles or polenta – garnish with the Gremolata.
- Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
- The ribs/meat may be prepared 1-2 days in advance. Ensure that the ribs/meat is are covered in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.
adapted from Michael Ruhlman
Visit the Daring Kitchen for information on joining the Daring Cooks and to see all the fabulous braises the Daring Cooks cooked up this month. Thanks Carol for a terrific challenge. Braising is one of my favorite ways too cook.
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