This year for Valentine's Day something awesome happened- both me and my husband had a totally free day. Since we're musicians, our schedules are a bit unusual and wonked out anyway, but we rarely get a day with literally no scheduled events. We usually go out to one of our favorite, more fancy restaurants for anniversaries and holidays like Val's day, but since we had the whole day to ourselves, we decided to make something that we probably wouldn't order from a fancy restaurant since it would cost a fortune. So deciding to do the work ourselves, we went grocery shopping and purchased all the ingredients. OK, so enough back story. Here's about the recipe.
The recipe we used is from America's Test Kitchen, which if you don't know what they do or how they come up with their recipes, you need to check them out. End of story, since I could talk all day about how thorough and excellent they are. Continuing on. For this recipe it's of utmost importance that you buy the right kind of meat. You want your short ribs boneless (if you can't find boneless, just de-bone and de-fat them yourself) and at least 4 inches long and about 1 inch thick. This ensures that the meat won't dry out during the long and slow cooking time. You'll start the meat out on the stove top to braise it and then finish it in the oven. You can serve this with egg noodles or boiled potatoes to sop up all the saucy goodness. Apart from the beef bourguignon I had in Paris this past summer, this is the best beef dish I have ever had. It's succulent and moist with complex flavor. Also, you won't want to eat your carrots any other way once you've had this. If you want to treat your spouse to a special dinner, you've found your recipe!
Braised Beef Short Ribs
Serves 6, or 4 very hungry adults
3 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs with fat trimmed off and cut into 2 inch pieces (we actually used slightly less meat since it's super expensive)
Table salt and pepper
2 TB veg. oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced into strips (about 4 cups)
1 TB tomato paste
6 medium garlic cloves
2 cups red wine, either Cabernet Sauvignon or Cotes du Rhone (we used Cabernet and it was amazing)
1 cup beef broth
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
4 sprigs of FRESH thyme (please don't substitute dried here!)
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 tsp. powdered unflavored gelatin
1. Put your oven rack in the lower middle position and preheat to 300F. Dry the beef (pat with paper towels) and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 TB of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, until the oil is smoking just a bit. Add half of the beef to the pot and let it brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. (try not to stir or move it as it is browning- it won't brown as well) Take the beef out and set in a medium bowl. Repeat the process with the rest of the beef. Take out the pieces and set them in a bowl with the first half of browned beef.
2. Reducing the heat to medium, add all the onions and cook until they are soft and just turning brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook while stirring constantly, until it's a bit brow, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Increase the flame to medium high and add the wine. Simmer it while scraping the sides and bottom of the Dutch oven, to get all the flavor and loosen those yummy browned bits. Simmer until the liquid is halved, about 8 minutes. Add the broth, carrots, thyme, bay leaf, and beef, including all the juice that's in the bottom of the bowl that you had the beef in. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Then transfer the pot to the oven and cook, stirring once about an hour through. Cook in the oven about 2- 2 1/2 hours, or until a fork slips in and out easily of the meat.
3. Put the water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top; let it sit for 5 minutes. Using tongs transfer the meat and veggies (onions included) onto a serving platter. Drain the liquid through a fat separator and discard the solids. Put the liquid back into the Dutch oven and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the meat and veggies.
So there you have it! I hope you try this recipe. Be warned that it can be a little on the expensive side, about $20 for the meat and $10 for the wine. But if you were to order this in a restaurant it would cost much, much more.