Spree.com's Recipe of the week: Stout-brasied Short Ribs
The recent entré into chilly weather had me celebrating my kitchen’s return to warm hearty dishes made all the better by a solid day of simmering. Short ribs top my list, since they require not only a lengthy time in the stove initially, but then a solid reheat after a day of resting in the fridge. This method, described in the recipe below, results in meat that easily slips from the bone and is flavorful in a way that is sultry and rich. Well worth the effort in my book, especially since I can spend most of the cooking time on the sofa reading one.
In the past I have used a combination of stock and red wine as the braising liquid for this classic dish, but a shortage of cooking-quality wine and a glut of Guinness made me seek out an online recipe using a combo of stock and stout. I found several, and taking guidance from them—and the many comments and suggestions made by various online users—I was able to successfully avoid all of this preparation’s pitfalls the first time around. My hope is that you will have the same experience.
Short ribs are especially popular these days. It seems that all of the formerly inexpensive cuts of beef are becoming familiar to homecooks and are subsequently pricier than they once were. If I can’t source short ribs through a local farmer, than I head straight to Lorigo’s Meeting Place on Grant Street, where the price is reasonable and the offerings are plenty. If you are looking for a pristine shopping experience with piped in pop music and lattés to go, Lorigo’s is not for you. If you are looking for a butcher who can prepare a crown roast, source caul fat or sell you a 5 lb. bag of chicken livers for pate making, this is your place. Additionally, a recent phone survey found Lorigo’s short ribs to be nearly $3 less per pound than a competing supermarket.
Braising is the ideal method for converting otherwise tough cuts into pure velvet. The moist, slow and low cooking process breaks down the connective tissue in the cut and releases it in the form of collagen. The muscle fibers in the meat initially contract and expel moisture, leaving the meat dry. But after time, they change their mind and begin to soak up all of their surrounding braising liquid and collagen, resulting in a delicious, moist and tasty meat dish.
This recipe provides a thick and lush gravy, chock full of soft short ribs. It is ideal for ladling over colcannon or tossing with noodles prepared with butter and fresh parsley. I was also careful to monitor my ribs, making sure that the braising liquid covered them during the cooking process. Checking just once or twice, I added more stock if necessary. I also used housemade dark brown sugar from Five Points Bakery, which is divine and made with iron-rich blackstrap molasses. Some recipes recommended that the brown sugar be added as part of the spice mixture, but I believe that this would cause the sugar to burn during the browning process, imparting a bitter flavor to the entire dish. Instead, I add it later to the liquid before simmering. The brown sugar is important in that it cuts the acidity in the tomatoes and helps temper the bitterness of the beer.
Stout-braised Short Ribs
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp dry mustard
4 to 4 1/4 lbs beef short ribs, cut into 4-inch pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
4 leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped garlic
2 cups beef broth (low sodium)
2 cans (12-ounce each) stout, such as Guinness
2 cans (14-ounce each) diced or whole tomatoes
1. In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, curry powder, cumin, pepper, salt and mustard.
2. Rinse the short ribs and use paper towels to pat the ribs dry. Arrange them in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, generously coat all sides of ribs with spice mixture. Chill in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 1 hour.
3. Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
4. In a large Dutch oven over high, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the ribs, working in batches if necessary, and quickly brown them on the three meaty sides (but not bone side), about one minute per side.
5. Transfer the meat to a large plate, then the add leeks, carrots, celery and bay leaves. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
6. Add the broth, beer, brown sugar and tomatoes with their juice. Add the ribs and any juices accumulated on the plate. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Cover the pot tightly with foil, then the lid. Place in the oven and braise until the meat is very tender, approximately 2 1/2 hours. A pairing knife inserted into the meat should have little resistance.
7. Remove from stove. Uncover and cool at room temperature. Replace cover and refrigerate over night.
8. Before serving, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
9. Remove from refrigerator and skim all fat from the top of the dish. Discard. Replace lid and heat in oven for approximately 45 minutes - 1 hour.
10. Skim off excess fat from the surface of dish. Discard the bay leaves and bones before serving.
Lorigo's Meating Place
185 Grant Street
Buffalo, NY 14213
Five Points Bakery
426 Rhode Island Street
Buffalo, NY 14213
Recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine.