Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spice Rubbed Slow Braised Short Ribs

Is there anything better than meat that falls off the bones?  Braising tough cuts of meat is such a great way to create a beautiful meal that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  One of my favorite cuts to slow cook are bone-in beef short ribs.

Last weekend I picked up about 2 1/2 lbs of short ribs and decided that I would prepare them this weekend.  Usually I just throw them in the slow cooker with some BBQ sauce.  But, given that I had time yesterday, I thought I'd try braising them, but in keeping with the BBQ theme, I wanted to give them a dry rub that had some "traditional" spices and flavors.

The result?  Fall off the bone and totally succulent short ribs.

Dry Rub
1/3 c brown sugar
1 T Chili powder
1/2 T ground ginger
1/2 T smoked paprika
1/2 T cumin
1/2 T cinnamon
1/2 T ground pepper
1 t salt
2-3 lbs of bone-in short ribs
1 T vegetable oil
1 T butter
3 medium carrots
1/2 large sweet onion
3 celery stalks
1 large shallot
4 large garlic cloves
1 can roasted diced tomatoes
2 C red wine
2 C mushroom broth
4 sprigs of thyme
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 T brown sugar
1 T honey
1 T molasses
1/2 T cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t chili powder

Combine all of the dry rub ingredients and mix well.

Trim any extra fat off of the short ribs, and remove the silver skin, if your butcher hasn't already.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, in terms of the silver skin, Gourmet has a great link about how to remove silver skin.  Pat the ribs dry and coat in the rub.

Once the ribs are coated, put in a large plastic bag and seal.

Let the ribs sit in the dry rub for at least 2 hours.  This will help all the yumminess seal in.

The next step to do is to prepare all of the vegetables.

Slice carrots into thin strips and then chop.  You want them to be reasonably small pieces.  

The same goes for the celery.

Dice the onion and the shallots, and mince the garlic.  There's a good trick to dicing onions that I learned a while back.  Cut the onion in half vertically.  Then slice onion, lengthwise, toward the end.

Then turn the onion and chop horizontally.  

Et voila.  So much less time, and for me fewer tears.  Onions make me cry like a baby, but this method is so much faster that there's less of a likelihood that I have to run from the kitchen to stop crying.

Once all the vegetables have been chopped and diced and minced, you can throw them all into the same bowl

the ribs, once the have finished their time in the rub, will have a great color to them.

Preheat the oven to 275°. 

After the ribs have finished absorbing some of the dry rub, prepare a large dutch oven or any pot that can go from the stovetop to the oven.  (Although, I will note that I have, before owning my dutch oven, braised things on the stovetop.  You just have to leave on very low heat and make sure that it does not boil, ever.)  Heat the pot to medium heat, and add salt to the pot.  Once it has heated, add in 1 T vegetable oil and 1 T butter.  

Once the butter has melted and the oil is sufficiently hot, add the short ribs in batches to brown.  

The key is to brown them at least 5-7 minutes per side.   You want them to caramelize and really brown, because that will give the meat so much flavor.  

After the meat has browned, transfer to a plate.

After the meat is done, add all of the vegetables to the pot, stirring fairly frequently.

Once the vegetables have softened (about 10 minutes or so) add the wine and broth. 

Once the broth is simmering with the vegetables, it's time to puree the mix a bit.  There are a couple of options.  One, you can ignore this step and do without the blending.  Two, you can put in a blender or food processor.  Or three you can use one of my favorite tools...the immersion blender

It's relatively inexpensive and an AWESOME tool for coarsely pureeing anything.  And it takes up almost no space in the kitchen.

Using whichever method you choose, blend the veggies and the liquid.

Add back in the meat with the juices from the plate and add the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks.

Cover tightly and put in the oven for 3-5 hours.  You can check the dish after 3 hours.  Before three hours DON'T OPEN IT!  Heat will disappear.  You will know if it is ready by checking the meat with a fork.  Does it fall off the bone?  It's done. 

Remove the pot from the oven and using a spoon, skim the excess fat from the top of the broth.

Remove the meat from the pot and put on a plate.

Add the remaining ingredients (brown sugar through chili powder) to the broth.  Put the heat back on medium for the stovetop, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add back in the meat and let simmer for at least another 5 minutes.

Serve when everyone is ready to eat! 

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