It’s been a while, due to sheer laziness and an indulgent ski vacation, but I’m back with more recipes and witty banter! So hopefully by now my inspiring words and recipes have encouraged you to attempt cooking after work whether it was for yourself or that special someone you are trying to impress. (P.S. cooking for a guy you like will really up your game – just ask my boyfriend!)
Now, as great as it is to throw together a tasty meal after work, I’m also a huge fan of taking your time in the kitchen when you have it. One of the easiest and most delicious food preparations is a slow braise. It’s easy because you basically mix everything together, put it in the oven, and leave it alone (in layman’s terms). It’s delicious because in those hours when you fall asleep watching reruns of Law and Order SVU and wake up frantic and cursing because you’re positive your lack of focus ruined yet another promising meal, you open the oven to find your meat is tender and succulent and BURSTING with flavor. Doesn’t this sound like the perfect kind of dish to make on a Sunday? I thought so.
This past Sunday I made Braised Beef Short Rib. It took me 5 hours. Also within that 5 hours I did 3 loads of laundry, washed my hair, watched 2 pointless hours of television I’d already seen and took a 30 minute nap. I promise I’m not superman, just a girl who wanted to make a kick ass dish to impress her boyfriend, while having an essentially lazy Sunday.
Alright so I’m going to share this recipe with you, but just remember that braising is about developing flavors over time so if you taste your braising liquid before you add the meat and it’s not salty enough or “flavorful” enough, wait an hour and reassess. If you fully season your braising liquid before it has a chance to start cooking, you’re meat is definitely going to be salty. You can always add flavor to your dish, but you can’t take it away.
Braised Beef Short Ribs
with Roasted Pickled Cipollini Onions, Glazed Carrots & Polenta
Braised Short Ribs
Total Time: 5 hours
Active Time: 45min – 1 hour
Serving Size: 2 people
Equipment you’ll need:
– A deep, wide pan or pot with a lid that can go in the oven (AKA make sure it doesn’t have a plastic handle)
– An oven
– A spoon
– A sharp knife
– A measuring cup (optional)
– 4 pieces of short rib (about 2 lbs) you can use more or less depending on how many people you’re cooking for and how big your pot or pan is.
– 2 tbs olive oil
– 1 yellow onion, chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 3 carrots, chopped
– 2 tbs tomato paste
– 2 cups tomato purée
– 1 quart veal stock*
– 3 cups water
– 2 cups dry red wine (any will do)
– 3 tbs red wine vinegar
– 4 sprigs fresh thyme
– 2 bay leaves
– Salt & pepper to taste
*If you have store bought veal stock, which you probably do, put it in a pot with ¼ of your chopped onion, one of your chopped carrots, some salt and a bay leaf and boil it until it reduces by 1/3rd. Strain before using. This will completely transform your stock and make it taste almost homemade. I highly suggest it.
Preheat your oven to 225º.
Pat your short ribs dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 1-2 tbs of olive oil in your deep pan or pot depending on the size. You only need enough to coat the bottom of your pan. Brown your short ribs on all sides over high heat (even if one side just looks like bone or fat). This shouldn’t take long, as this step is meant to caramelize the meat slightly and not to cook it through. Once your meat it browned transfer it to a plate.
In the same pot, add your onions. Cook them over medium heat until they begin to soften.
Add the carrots and continue to cook. Then add the garlic and the tomato paste. Stir vegetables until all of the tomato paste is incorporated. Stir in tomato purée. Add your red wine and let simmer until it has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add your veal stock, thyme, and bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
Return your short ribs to the pan, making sure they are at least ¾ covered. Cover with a tightly fitting lid, or if you don’t have one, tightly fit aluminum foil. Place pan or pot in the oven for at least 3 hours, checking and tasting turning meat over every hour.
If you’d like to make the complete dish, at this point you can pickle your onions and prep your carrots for glazing. (recipes below) However, these short ribs would also be great over rice, pasta or next to some simply roasted vegetables.
After 3 hours your meat should be fork tender, meaning it shouldn’t take more than a fork to pull the meat apart. Your bones may have separated from the meat at this point. Return the braise to the oven, covered, after checking it to make sure it’s done until you’re ready to serve it. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat, start your polenta, roast your onions and glaze your carrots.
Strain about 1 cup of your braising liquid into a pan or pot over high heat. You will want to reduce this by about ¾ until it begins to thicken. If you really want to indulge, stir in ½ tbs of cold butter once it’s reduced. This will help thicken your sauce a bit more and add richness. Adjust taste with salt.
Plate polenta first, then top with two pieces of short rib, glazed baby carrots and your roasted pickled cipollini onions. Spoon your reduced sauce over meat. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.
I really enjoyed making this meal and I enjoyed eating it even more. I think it’s one of the tastiest, most complete dishes I’ve ever made and I hope it was for you too! And remember, there is always room for improvement!
Roasted Red Wine Pickled Cipollini Onions
Equipment you’ll need:
– A small pot
– A cutting board
– A sharp knife
– A baking sheet or something that can go in the oven
– 8 cipollini onions, peeled of outer skin (I like to use the smaller cipollini onions for this, but whatever size you can find will work.)
– 1 cup red wine
– 1 cup red wine vinegar
– 1 cup water
– 2 tbs sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
– 1 bay leaf
– Fresh thyme sprig
Bring all ingredients aside from the onions to a boil in a small sauce pan. While this is happening make sure all of your onions are clean of their outer skin and root. You can do this by peeling them carefully with a paring knife or with your fingers. Once the pickling liquid is boiling remove it from the heat and add your onions. You can let this sit on the stove until your braise is ready. (yes it’s that easy, are you shocked?!)
About 15 minutes before you’re ready to plate, increase your oven temp to 300. Remove your onions from the brine and place them on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until they start to brown.
Glazed Baby Carrots
Equipment you’ll need:
– A pan
– One tsp olive oil or butter
– 6 baby carrots, peeled – and I mean real baby carrots not the little nuggets you can buy in a bag of 100. For those of you who don’t know, those are just normal sized carrots whose bodies have been wasted.
– 3 tbs sugar
– ¼ cup water
In your pan, heat olive oil or butter until it’s hot, but not smoking. Add your carrots and slightly brown them. Add water and sugar. Cook over medium high heat and let the water boil out. Roll your carrots around so they cook evenly on all sides. Once the water has cooked out they should be shiny and tender (and sweet!).
Buy a box of polenta and follow the instructions. Add butter or herbs if you’d like. It’s that straight forward.