Saturday, March 28, 2009

Short Ribs Braised in Chimay Ale

Sometimes when you're learning to cook you need to feel bad ass.  Enter the braised short ribs a la Zuni Cafe, a great restaurant in San Francisco. 

This recipe started out with a visit to the Whole Foods butcher counter where the ribs were cut across the bone into 2 in thick slabs by a wonderful power saw.  Back at home, they were trimmed of nearly all fat, very important as any excess fat becomes like jelly in the braising process.  Then the ribs were rubbed in sea salt (3/4 tsp per pd) and tucked overnight in the refrigerator.

2 1/2 pds Short ribs, cut across bone/trimmed/salted overnight
1-2 Tbls Mild Olive Oil
1 1/2 pds Yellow onions, cut 1/4 inch thick
2 Bay leaves
A few whole white peppercorns
Handful diced mushrooms (called for dried wild in water, but regular mushrooms worked fine)
Up to 1 cup Beef Stock
Up to 1 cup Chimay Ale
1/4 Dijon Mustard

Warm oil in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Wipe your meat dry, then brown on the three meaty sides about 4 minutes per side.  Pour off excess fat.

Rearrange meat bone side down in the pan.  Here I switched to a large creuset pan because the original 3 quart pan was too crowded, next time I'll brown in the same pan.  Add the onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, mushrooms, and equal parts stock and Chimay ale.  Watch how much liquid you add carefully, it should only reach a depth of about 3/4 inch to your 2 inch ribs.  I only ended up using about 1 1/4 cups of liquid total.

Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over low heat for about 2 hours.  Check several times to assure you are only at a simmer.  Turn the meat each time you check.  Meat is done when fork tender.  When done, prop the pan uncovered at a slight angle and let rest for 5 minutes.  

Turn on Broiler.

Skim the fat that has collected (reason for angling pan).  Season the remaining juice as needed.  Then brush the short ribs with the Dijon Mustard, I pushed aside the onions as needed.  And place the pan under the broiler about 5 inches from the element, to brown the mustard and glaze the remaining onion stem about 5 minutes.  
We served the ribs over a pile of buttermilk mashed potatoes and a side salad of lettuce, apples and mustard vinaigrette.  It's a committed recipe but with a little patience you'll have delicious results.


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