Saturday, December 16, 2006

Short Ribs For Winter 1

I love short ribs. They put the "G" in gadempt. Cook, for hours, savor, for longer than it normally takes to eat stuff, and refrigerate, for the next few days. The problem I always have with short ribs is that the liquid the short ribs cooks in is always a liquid, goopy, mess. Skimming during cooking is not practical, and does not stop the thinness of the taste. What seems to work best is two things. First, I use a tremendous amount of root vegetables in cooking. Second, after the ribs are cooked I carefully degrease the cooking liquid and, squish all of the liquid out of those otherwise overcooked and mushy root vegetables. This maximizes flavor while getting rid of mushy carrots and messy onions. You can add wine to this, but it is not necessary. The whole operation takes 3 hours (or more, depending on the toughness of the meat) but much of that time the whole thing is in the oven and you can ignore it.


5 pound short ribs with bone (this feeds about 8 people if they can eat)
2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste and to salt the meat
Olive oil for cooking
Chicken stock, at least one quart


Large skillet to brown meat, onions etc. (2 helps speed this thing up a lot)
Large bowl or pot to hold meat
Dutch oven or other large, oven safe dish to put meat (it needs to be BIG)
Good knife
Large strainer or colander to mash vegetables
Pot to reduce liquid
Broiling or roasting pan to finish off meat and brown it


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Salt meat well and brown in skillets on medium high heat. This takes some time, so using two skillets helps a lot. The meat does not have to be browned to death but should be at least somewhat cooked on all sides. Set meat aside in large bowl and let juices drain to bottom. Start to brown the onions and garlic. When it softens and glistens, add other vegetables. Soften them. Place the meat, vegetables and spices in the pot and add enough stock to just cover the whole thing. If you don't feel there are enough vegetables, add more! The final volume should be about half meat and half vegetables by volume. There should be some room at the top. Place the whole thing in oven and ignore for at least 90 minutes. You can check it every 20 minutes or so after that. The meat is ready when it is fall off the bone soft (it will in fact, fall off those little bones). At this point remove the whole thing from the oven. Remove meat and place in a pan for later.

Remove all of the vegetables and set aside in a bowl. Skim off as much fat as humanly possible from the liquid and set heat to simmer. Place a colander or strainer over the pot and place vegetables in this. Using a spoon or other such implement, squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the vegetables and into the pot. It takes a while. After this, increase the heat to a moderate boil and reduce the liquid by at least half. Salt to taste. If you are really adventurous, you can try to thicken the mixture with some flour, but its not necessary.

Right before serving, place the meat under a broiler (or you can heat the oven to 500 degrees) for a few minutes. This will brown the meat somewhat and given it a bit of crunch and attractive color. Serve over pasta or rice.

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