Friday, March 4, 2011

Braised Boneless Short Ribs

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One of my favorite cuts of beef of all time is short ribs. There's something about the way it's marbled with just the right amount of fat and so full of unctuous, meaty flavor. Yum! When I was at the store the other day, I came across some boneless short ribs. I normally work with short ribs with the bones (as bones add a lot of flavor to the dishes) but picked up a package of these boneless ones to try. I found this recipe for Braised Boneless Short Ribs and was pleasantly surprised. These ribs came out so tender but even more surprisingly was that they weren't as greasy or oily and could be made in a shorter time than using ribs with bones....

A lot of braised short rib recipes take hours to prepare because the cut requires a slow cook to bring out the flavor and texture that it's known for. This recipe, however, allows you to get all that flavor and texture and save time as well. The boneless ribs are browned and then braised in a combination of red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon) and a little beef broth. Aromatics such as bay leaf, fresh sprigs of thyme, garlic and onions also add to the deep flavor these ribs have. After the ribs have braised in the oven for a couple of hours, the liquid is reduced and thickened with gelatin for a silky texture. I served this over buttery mashed potatoes for a truly comforting meal.

Braised Boneless Short Ribs
from Cook's Illustrated/Food

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 1/2 lbs boneless beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat removed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions (2 large onions)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon) 
1 cup beef broth 
4 large carrots, peeled and cut in large chunks
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon gelatin powder

Place oven rack in upper-middle position and preheat to 300°F. Pat beef dry with paper towels. Stir together salt and pepper and sprinkle over beef.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in Dutch oven until smoking. Add half of beef and cook without moving, 4-6 minutes, until well browned. Turn beef over and cook second side until well browned, another 4-6 minutes. If fat begins to smoke, reduce heat. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining oil and beef.

Reduce heat to medium, add onion, and cook, stirring often, until softened and barely browned, 12-15 minutes. (If onions darken too quickly, add 1-2 tbsp water to pan.).

Add tomato paste and stir constantly until it browns on sides and bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook unitl fragrant, 30-60 seconds.

Turn heat up to medium-high, add wine, and simmer, scraping up fond from sides and bottom. Simmer until reduced by half, 8-10 minutes. Add beef broth, carrots, thyme, and bay leaf. Add beef and any juices in the bowl. Cover and bring to a simmer.

Transfer to oven and cook 2 to 2½ hours, turning meat twice with tongs during cooking. When done, a fork will slip easily in and out of meat.

Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer meat and carrots to serving platter; tent with foil. Strain cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a fat separator. Press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard solids. Allow to settle, then strain off fat.
 

Return liquid to Dutch oven and reduce to 1 cup over medium heat, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bloomed gelatin; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over meat and serve.


For a crockpot meal: Prepare the recipe as directed by browning the ribs as noted above. Transfer the browned ribs to a crockpot. In the same pan used to brown the ribs, r
educe heat to medium, add onion, and cook, stirring often, until softened and barely browned, 12-15 minutes. (If onions darken too quickly, add 1-2 tbsp water to pan.).

Add tomato paste and stir constantly until it browns on sides and bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook unitl fragrant, 30-60 seconds.

Turn heat up to medium-high, add wine, and simmer, scraping up fond from sides and bottom. Simmer until reduced by half, 8-10 minutes. Transfer liquid to the crockpot and pour over the beef.

Add beef broth, carrots, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover and cook 6-8 hours on low heat or 4-6 hours on high heat. 


Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer meat and carrots to serving platter; tent with foil. Strain cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a fat separator. Press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard solids. Allow to settle, then strain off fat.
 

Return liquid to a small saucepan and reduce to 1 cup over medium heat, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bloomed gelatin; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over meat and serve.


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