Some months ago, I promised to work up a recipe for this in response to a request from Celeste. I did indeed work up the recipe, that very same weekend, but life intervened. My business partner of the last 17 years passed away, I had to scramble to get approved to work directly for Corporation X, wait for a PO and wait for a PO and wait for a PO, I didn't get paid for 3 months, a real estate deal went haywire, I nearly lost my mind, and I completely forgot to post the recipe. Until yesterday afternoon when, in planning a snowy Saturday's cooking in response to Rogue's query, I decide to make....Braised Short Ribs. And I remembered my broken promise.
My sincerest apologies, Celeste. Here's the recipe.
"Celestial" Braised Short Ribs (serves 6)
2 tbsp neutral-flavored vegetable oil (I use grapeseed)
6 meaty short ribs, @8 oz. each
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium shallots , minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 large ribs celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 cup dried pitted dates, chopped
1 cup plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 heavy-bottomed lidded pot or casserole large enough to fit all the ribs in one layer
Pat the short ribs dry and season well on all sides with S&P.
Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat. 3 at a time, slowly brown the ribs on all sides, starting with the bone down. Remove the ribs to a plate or something to hold. Pour out the remaining fat and oil, leaving a thin layer in the pan.
Heat the pan again over medium heat and sauté the onion, shallots, garlic, celery and carrot, without browning, until soft and translucent. Add the dates and tomatoes and stir to combine, then stir in the wine and raise the heat to bring the wine to a boil. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Sprinkle in about a teaspoon and a half of salt and grind in about half a teaspoon of black pepper. Throw in the bay leaf. Tuck the ribs back into the pot so they sit in one layer. If the liquid doesnt quite cover them, add a little water. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook for about three hours, until the meat is very tender and pulling away from the bones.
Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the ribs from the pan (you can put them on the plate you used to hold them before unless you compulsively put it in the dishwasher already). Strain the vegetables from the liquid remaining in the pot and set them aside (pick out and discard the bay leaf). Leave the strained liquid to stand so the fat rises to the top, then skim the fat (or use one of those cool fat-straining gravy making cups). Return the liquid to the pan, bring it to a boil, and reduce until slightly syrupy. Stir in the vinegar and the reserved vegetables, then reseason with salt and pepper as necessary. Return the ribs to the pot just to reheat. Serve over very buttery garlicky mashed potatoes.
Note: If the sauce isnt thick enough for you, thicken it with a little beurre manié.
Note: Beurre manié is a smooth paste made of equal parts butter and flour kneaded together. Small amounts added to simmering sauce will disperse the flour nicely to thicken the sauce (be sure the flour cooks through).