Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs are Worth Waiting For - Slow Cooker Alert

It looks like Redmond is going to be getting a stretch of cool weather this week. Not quite what we've been experiencing so far this year with these wonderful warm days. This recipe is a terrific cold weather dinner and your family will love you.

Despite all of my best intentions of reducing my beef intake I do still enjoy eating it every once in a while. And, as far as I'm concerned, if you're going to fall off the wagon you might as well fall hard. Many people would argue that the best way to do that is a juicy, grass-fed steak but my favorite cut is the more humble short rib.

The short rib is beautifully marbled and when slow cooked is fall off the bone tender. In the 60's and 70's the short ribs were a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, and though increased popularity has driven up prices over the years, they still fall well below the cost of filet mignon. Short ribs are also starting to appear more frequently on restaurant menus.

There are so many great recipes for short ribs it is difficult to choose. Our family recipe had a tomato based sauce with lots of sliced onions, slow cooked and served over mashed russets. Perhaps my all time favorite for sentimental reasons.

But you have to try new things and there was plenty to choose from. I decided on a recipe from John Besh strictly because I've seen the guy on the Food Network, he's from New Orleans, and he seems to understand how to give dishes a lot of depth. The recipe is super-involved and I shortened the whole process considerably. This is my adaption of Chef Besh's recipe.


2 to 3 pounds beef short ribs, bone-in, about 8

Sea salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups zinfandel

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 T minced garlic

2 sprigs fresh thyme, picked off stem

1 1/2 oz. canola oil

1 cup small diced onion

1/4 cup each small diced celery and small diced carrot

6 ounces canned chopped tomatoes

1 cup good deep beef broth

1 oz mushrooms, preferably porcini

1 bay leaf

Generously season short ribs with salt and pepper. Whisk zinfandel, sugar, garlic, fresh thyme, and a pinch of salt. Place ribs in mixture and marinate for 12 hours. (I marinated for about 2 hours and they were fine.)

Remove ribs from marinade and allow them to rest and come to room temperature. Put canola oil in dutch oven over high heat. Brown ribs in batches until crispy brown on exterior. When done set aside and add diced vegetables into the pan. Stirring constantly cook until onion turns mahogany color, about 10 minutes, scrape up all the good brown bits from the pan.

Reduce heat to medium and add ribs back to pan along with the wine marinade. Let wine come to a boil, skim foam off if necessary, and then reduce heat to low. Add remaining ingredients and allow to simmer uncovered until meat is fork tender and falling off the bone, roughly 5 hours. (I did not have the time for that so I cooked it covered for about 2 1/2 hours.)

Remove ribs from pan, cover and set aside. Continue cooking sauce for another 30 minutes until reduced and coating a spoon. You can strain the sauce but I left it with the cooked down veggies still in it. I also thickened my sauce with a tablespoon of cornstarch. Return ribs to pan and coat with braising liquid. Serve over your favorite starch. Chef Besh prefers polenta but I like a traditional garlic mashed potatoes.

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