If you have been reading any of The Chopping Blog's recent posts, you’ll have noticed that most of the chefs, myself included, are really getting into the type of food that is typical this time of year. Soups, stews, braises, and all those cold-weather dishes that really stick to the ribs and warm the body and spirit. This post will be no different in that it is about a really good cold weather dish that will almost make you glad that the cooler weather has descended upon us. I speak, of course, of braised short ribs.
Short ribs are a cut of beef taken from the brisket, chuck, plate, or rib areas of beef cattle. There are two major types of cuts: the flanken, which is cut across the bone, and the English, which is cut parallel to the bone. There are also Chuck short ribs, which are boneless and those are the type we will be working with for this recipe. I really like the boneless short ribs for this application due to the fact that they have a good amount of connective tissue and since there are no bones, there is no waste.
Short ribs are popular around the world in many international cuisines. The Chinese typically marinate their short ribs in a mixture containing soy sauce and sugar and quickly grill them. In Korea, short ribs are marinated in a mixture that is ganjang (Korean soy sauce) based. In Hawaii, the style of short rib is quite similar to the Chinese method with the addition of some aromatics like ginger and then they are grilled. This preparation is known as Maui-style ribs. Regardless of the preparation, short ribs are full of flavor and generally inexpensive.
For my recipe we will be using boneless short ribs. I generally tend to buy my meat bone-in when available, but I find with short ribs especially the flanken style, that because the butchers generally use a saw to cut them, there is the potential for small fragments of bone to get into the package. Biting into one of these is a very unpleasant experience. (Trust me!) I also prefer the boneless short rib due to the large amount of connective tissue such as collagen inside which will slowly start to melt during the braising process and will really lend flavor to the braising liquid and really help add to the level of umami in the final dish.
Braising is a relatively easy process if you adhere to a few simple rules. You want to brown the meat before braising to help caramelize the meat and really add to the flavor. In this case I dredged the short ribs in flour first to aid in the browning and also to help the sauce thicken as the dish braises. Along with browning the meat, you also want to caramelize whatever veggies are going to be in the dish. For my recipe I used sliced mushrooms and onions. I really like the earthiness of the mushrooms and the sweetness of the onions in this dish.
Lastly, you need some type of liquid to deglaze the pan and release all the fond (the browned bits on the bottom of the pan which build up during the searing process) which will really add some good flavor to the dish. The liquid you use is up to you. You can do something as light as water all the way to a brandy or a cognac. Water doesn’t lend any flavor to the dish so I don’t like water as a deglazing liquid. Brandy or cognac are very strong flavors so I don’t use them for this because I don’t want the dish to be overpowered. In this case I used a dry red wine, Pinot Noir to be specific. The type of wine you use is important because as wine cooks down, the flavors intensify. A sweet wine will get sweeter, a subpar wine will typically get worse, etc. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it is the basic guideline I was taught.
If you follow these few simple rules, you'll master the beautiful style of cooking known as braising. If you would like more information on braising, check out these upcoming classes:
- Cast Iron and Crock Pot Cooking Sunday, December 1 11am Lincoln Square
- Essential Building Blocks Friday, December 27 9am Merchandise Mart
- The Art of Braising Boot Camp on Friday, January 4 10am Merchandise Mart
Also, come by our retail shops and check out our Le Creuset braisers. This piece of cookware will definitely change your braising game.
Braised Short Ribs with Mushrooms and Onions
3 pounds boneless chuck short ribs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 yellow onion, julienned
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 6 oz. can tomato paste (Did you know you can make your own?)
2 cups dry red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
1 quart beef stock
2 Tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a large braising dish or large pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
3. While the oil heats, season and dredge the short ribs in the flour. Roll them on a plate with the flour until coated, making sure to shake off the excess flour.
4. When the short ribs are seasoned and dredged, brown them in the oil a few pieces at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, until they are nicely browned on all sides, about 3-5 minutes per side.
5. When the short ribs are browned, take them out of the pan and add the sliced onions and mushrooms and cook until softened and slightly caramelized, 12-15 minutes.
6. Add the can of tomato paste and cook until the tomato paste begins to caramelize and becomes very fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.
7. Add the red wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape all those bits (aka fond) off of the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine is almost dry, about 15-20 minutes.
8. Add the beef stock, return the short ribs to the pan, cover and place in the oven until the short ribs are fork tender, about 2 to 2.5 hours.
9. For best results, let the short ribs cool in the braising liquid overnight to really absorb the flavor of the broth and serve the next day with your favorite sides. I chose to serve them over plain white rice.