As winter slowly creeps into the Napa Valley, I look forward to fires in the fireplace rather than the grill, and rich, braised dishes. This is an oldie but a goodie. You can use beef chuck meat, but I like the succulence of the meat from beef short ribs. Using prime or even choice meat is not important. The succulence comes from melted protein rather than fat.
5 lbs. beef short ribs
1/2 oz. canola or other neutral oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb. yellow onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 oz. celery, rinsed and coarsely chopped
4 oz. carrot, washed and coarsely chopped
1 oz. garlic, peeled and crushed
1 oz. tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 oz. dried porccini mushrooms
1/2 t. black peppercorns
12 oz. red wine
4 c. chicken broth
1 lb button or crimini mushrooms, rinsed, stems removed and saved
1/2 lb. pearl onions, peeled, root off
3 T. AP flour
3 T. sweet butter, room temperature
Season the short ribs on all sides with salt and black pepper.
Now is the time to use that huge Le Cruset pot that is collecting dust. Place over high heat and add the oil.
Brown the short ribs on all sides. Keep the heat on high.
Darker color on the meat will result in a darker, richer sauce.
Continue browning until all pieces are done, then reserve.
While the meat is browning, prepare the aromatic ingredients. Chop the vegetables coarsely, and add the stems from the mushrooms. Crush the garlic cloves.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot, then return to high heat. Add the garlic, and stir. Cook just 15 – 20 seconds for aroma.
Add the other vegetables, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to wilt and lightly brown.
Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring regularly, until the entire mixture is softened and browned.
Reduce to a
Add the wine, and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a fast simmer, and cook until the smell of alcohol is gone.
Add the browned meat, the thyme, peppercorns, and dried porccini. Push the meat down into the vegetables.
Add the chicken broth.
Bring to a simmer, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cover.
Bake at 350 F. for an hour and a half, or until the meat pulls away from the bone.
Remove the meat and bones from the liquid, and allow to cool.
Separate the meat from the bones, and cut chunks into roughly 1″ cubes.
Strain the broth into a suitable pot, pressing as much liquid from the vegetables as possible with a metal spoon.
Place the pot over medium heat, with the flame under just one side of the pot. This will cause the simmering liquid to push the accumulated fat to one side of the pot where you can carefully skim it off with a ladle. Continue to skim until the fat has been removed.
Wash the braising pot, and return it to high heat. Add the mushrooms and pearl onions, and cook until the mushrooms soften and the onions begin to caramelize.
Add the skimmed braising liquid, and bring to a boil.
Combine the flour and butter to make a smooth paste.
Whisk the butter and flour mixture rapidly into the boiling braising liquid.
The liquid will thicken.
Add the braised beef, and heat through.
Stir in a little Italian parsley if you have some.
Serve over buttered noodles, I like the little nests of pappardelle.
Happy winter dinner!