Monday, June 16, 2014

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes

Tender, succulent and meltingly tender, Braised Short Ribs must be one of the ultimate comfort foods. The magic of braising is that it relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down the tough connective tissue and collagens in meat, transforming the dense, well-marbled texture of short ribs until its fall-off-the-bone tender and creating a rich, velvety and deeply flavoured sauce along the way. From the perfect pot roast to the fragrant complexity of a classic coq au vin, there's really no food more satisfying than a well-braised dish. In this recipe, slowly braising the short ribs in a combination of red wine, beef broth, flour, a bouquet of aromatic herbs and chopped vegetables gives the meat a deep, dark colour and sumptuous flavour, that makes this dish one of the most memorable braises I've ever prepared. Served over a mound of Leek & Scallion Mashed Potatoes with a puddle of satiny sauce and a bottle of full bodied red wine, this recipe is an absolute winner.

Flanken-style short ribs: The top one is 2 1/2" thick and the bottom ones about 1 1/2" thick

The ribs are cut crosswise into 2" pieces with a rib bone in each portion

Seasoned with salt and pepper, the short ribs are sautéed in a little vegetable oil, 
until they are browned on all sides

Depending on their size, the ribs are browned about 2-3 minutes per side

The ribs should be sautéed in batches so they have room to brown

Once browned, the ribs are set aside in a bowl 

Chopped onions and carrots are added to the pot and sautéed over medium-high for 5 minutes

Flour and tomato paste are then added and cooked for another 2-3 minutes

The browned ribs are then added to the pot along with their accumulated juices and a bottle of dry red wine

Cabernet Sauvignon is the recommended wine for this dish

The wine mixture simmers and bubbles away

After 25 minutes, the liquid is reduced to almost half

Fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, bay leaves and a head of garlic cut in half, are added to the pot

4 cups of beef broth is then added and brought to a boil, then covered and transferred to the 350°F oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours

While the short ribs are braising, the leek and scallions are washed and finely chopped for the mashed potatoes

2 tablespoons of butter in melted in a pan over medium heat

The vegetables are added and sautéed until they are soft, about 5-6 minutes

Once they're cooked, the pan is removed from the heat and set aside, allowing the onions to relax in the residual warmth of the pan until needed

Just before the ribs have finished cooking, the potatoes are boiled, mashed and dotted with butter and cream with the leek-scallion mixture added at the end

The short ribs are removed from the braising liquid after 3 hours and placed on a foil lined baking tray then browned for 10 to 15 minutes at 275°F

Meanwhile the braising liquid is strained, 
defatted and set over medium-high for 10-15 minutes to further reduce the liquid

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs
Serves 4

5 lb bone-in flanken-style beef short ribs, cut into 2" pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine, preferably Cabernet Sauvignon
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups beef stock

Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and working in 2 batches, brown the short ribs on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. When done, transfer the browned short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the drippings from the pot.

Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the wine, then add the short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer until the wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. 

Add all of the herbs and the garlic to the pot. Stir in the beef stock and bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the short ribs are tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn off the oven and let the short ribs rest at least 15-30 minutes in their juices — I left them for 90 minutes — and then transfer the ribs to a foil lined baking sheet to brown in a preheated 275°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, strain the braising liquid into a large bowl, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Return the liquid to the pot and using a handful of paper towel, skim the fat from the sauce as much as possible. Set the pot over medium-high heat and allow the liquid to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Mashed Potatoes with Leeks & Scallions
Serves 4

6 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 leek
3 scallions, washed and trimmed
10 tbsp butter
salt and white pepper
3/4 cup cream

Slice the leek in half lengthwise and rinse in cold water, then slice in half again. Using a chef's knife, finely chop the leeks and scallions then sauté with 2 tablespoons of butter on medium high heat until they become soft, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, allowing them to rest in the residual heat until needed.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook for 25-30 minutes until they are fork tender, then toss into a colander to drain.

In the same pot, melt 8 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then add the potatoes and mash until smooth. Add the sautéed leeks and scallions, stirring to combine. Pour in the cream and blend to your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, turn the heat to low and cover until ready to serve.