Beef (or Buffalo) Short Ribs Braised in Beer

Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus seasoning time of 1 to 3 days
Cooking time: 2 to 21/2 hours
Kitchen Tip: Seasoning ribs for at least two days will make them more succulent. Chef Nelson also braises them in a heavy-duty pot with a tight-fitting lid so that they cook evenly.

4 beef or buffalo short ribs (about 3/4 lb each)
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/2 pound carrots (about 4), chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (about 1 medium tomato)
2-3 cups beef or chicken stock or water
1 bottle dark beer

Bouquet garnish:

4 fresh sage leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 small dried chile de arbol
1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Season ribs liberally with salt and store, covered, in the refrigerator for one to three days (if frozen, allow enough time to thaw ribs completely before salting). Bring meat to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large ovenproof casserole dish or dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Meanwhile, pat ribs dry, season with salt and pepper, and dredge in flour, shaking off excess flour. Add the oil to the pot and sear the ribs until golden on all sides, 4-5 minutes each side. Transfer ribs to a plate as browned.

Add the carrots and onions to the casserole and cook until vegetables begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Return the ribs and any accumulated juices to the pot and then add the tomatoes, bouquet garni, stock and beer. Mix well. Return to a boil, cover and place in oven for 2 hours.

Remove the casserole from the oven and transfer the ribs to a plate. Carefully strain the hot braising liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl, pressing on the solids with a spoon or spatula to extract all juices. Discard the vegetables and bouquet garni. Skim the fat from the surface of the braising liquid and return the juices to the casserole.

Return ribs to the pan and continue to cook on top of the stove, partially covered, over low to medium-low heat if ribs are still tough until they easily separate from the bone. If the sauce is loose, remove the lid and simmer until sauce reduces to the desired consistency.

Skim any remaining fat from the surface of the rib sauce. Spoon polenta onto a pasta bowl or rimmed dinner plate. Place a rib on top of polenta. Arrange some roasted winter vegetables in the bowl. Spoon sauce over the vegetables and a little over the ribs.

Creamy Sage Polenta

Yields: 4 servings (about 4 cups)
Preparation time:
5 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

3 cups water or chicken stock
1 cup milk
Salt
1 cup polenta or stone ground cornmeal
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring the water or chicken stock and milk to a strong simmer in a heavy 51/2-quart pot over high heat. Add salt to taste. Gradually sprinkle the polenta into the pot, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook the polenta, stirring often with a wooden spoon until it gets very thick, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the butter, cheese and sage. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 45 minutes

½ cup (about 8 ) pearl onions
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2″ sections, thick sections halved lengthwise
2 parsnips cut into 1 1/2″ sections, thick sections halved or quartered lengthwise
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into thick wedges
1 turnip, peeled and cut into thick wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the onions to the water and simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. When onions are cool, drain, trim stem ends, and pop onions out of their skins. Put the onions, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips onto a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on the pan and roast at 350 degrees until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and tent with foil until ready to serve.

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