The last time we made this for our friends, they hosted a Polish dinner party in return, complete with Polish music and vodka shots. Not that we necessarily drove them to put on such a lavish affair, but we like to think that this special meal had something to do with it ;)
In fact, it's so special that we were planning to have it as our Valentines Day treat. Only, too much shopping at Lowes and Home Depot that afternoon (aren't we the romantic couple??) delayed everything. And at 8pm after realizing that the meat still needed to braise another 3 whole hours, we decided to celebrate the holiday a day later. Besides, how embarrassingly cliche is the whole Valentines Day dinner thing, anyway?
Anyway, this dish pairs perfectly with a nice, big glass of red wine. I guess anything pairs well with cab (let's be honest), but this combination is truly divine. Braising always does wonders for meat -- but when you take it a step further and remove the meat from all of its wonderful braising juices to roast until the outsides are crisp again, there's no turning back. The meat becomes so soft and tender that it literally falls off the bone at the slightest hint of contact.
Of course, you'll need to serve this with soft polenta to sop up all the gravy (ie, braising juices) that's poured on top of the meat. And don't forget the horseradish cream, which adds a cooling and refreshing contrast to the hearty ribs. And definitely include the roasted pearl onions and sauteed swiss chard -- what we keep telling ourselves makes this a "balanced meal." And lastly and most importantly, if you do end up making this...don't forget to call us ;)
Braised Beef Short Ribs
Recipe adapted from the lovely SmittenKitchen
6 beef short ribs, about 14 to 16 ounces each (ask for 3 bone center-cut)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 4 whole sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 dozen small pearl onions
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups port
2 1/2 cups hearty red wine
6 cups beef or veal stock
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch swiss chard
1/2 cup créme fraîche
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon thyme and the cracked black pepper. Use your hands to coat the meat well. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Take the short ribs out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature. After 30 minutes, season them generously on all sides with salt.
When you take the ribs out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Toss the pearl onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoons salt, and a pinch of pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast them about 15 minutes, until tender. When they have cooled, slip off the skins with your fingers and set aside. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.
When it’s time to cook the short ribs, heat a large Dutch oven over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil, and wait a minute or two, until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the short ribs in the pan, and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to sear the meat in batches. When the ribs are nicely browned (will take around 30 min), transfer them to a plate to rest.
Turn the heat down to medium, and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme springs, and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Arrange ribs in the pot, lieing flat, bones standing up, in one layer. Scrape any vegetables that have fallen on the ribs back into the liquid. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven for 3 hours.
Take the meat out of the oven. Let the ribs rest 10 minutes in their juices, and then transfer them to a baking sheet.
Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F. Place the short ribs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown.
Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with a ladle to extract all the juices. If the broth seems thin, reduce it over medium-high heat to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.
Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Tear the Swiss chard into large pieces. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, and stir in the cooked pearl onions. Add half the Swiss chard, and cook a minute or two, stirring the greens in the oil to help them wilt. Add a splash of water and the second half of the greens. Season with a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of ground black pepper. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the greens are tender.
Serve with Horseradish Cream:
Combine the créme fraîche and horseradish in a small bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Taste for balance and seasoning. Continue reading for recipe...