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Friday, September 14, 2012

Braised Pulled Short Ribs with Glazed Vegetables

The cooler weather is just around the corner and I have to admit that the Fall is my favourite time of the year.  

The best days are weekends spent at home relaxing while something slow cooks in the oven.  If there is a fire going, music playing and the house smells wonderful, I am truly happy.

I found some short ribs at the market the other day and was inspired to cook an end-of-Summer, pre-Fall slow roasted meal.  I was going to freeze it for Kat to bring back to school but we ended up having it for dinner because everyone was home (this also makes me very happy).

This type of recipe is great for less expensive cuts of meat like brisket, veal or lamb shanks, round or chuck.  Because the meat cooks for so long (4 hours in this case)  it becomes very tender.  It is even better served the next day as the flavours will develop and you can then pull the meat apart while discarding any fat and connective tissue that would be unpleasant to eat.  

You will need:  For 4 - 6 large portions (use any leftovers for a sautéed mushroom and pulled short-rib crostini with caramelized onions ♥)

  • 1.3 kg (about 2.5 lbs) of short ribs, cut in large pieces and all visible fat and silver skin removed
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) of oil (olive, vegetable or peanut)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) of red wine
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml)  of port wine
  • 2 cups (475 ml) of beef or veal stock
  • 2 slices of bacon cut in 1 inch  (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 medium carrot diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, skin removed and crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 - 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 5-6 whole peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) of cold butter

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C);
  2. Bring the meat to room temperature and pat it dry (this will help it brown);
  3. Season it generously with salt;
  4. Put the oil (2 tbsp) in a large oven proof pot and heat over medium high;
  5. Add the meat to brown, turning to color on all sides;
  6. Remove the meat and add a little more oil;
  7. Cook the bacon until it starts to color (this will add a lot of flavor to the dish)
  8. Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel;
  9. If you have a lot of fat in the pot, remove it leaving only about 1 tablespoon;
  10. Reduce the heat to medium and add the diced vegetables and garlic cloves and sweat for about 10 minutes (5 minutes uncovered and 5 minutes covered with a lid).  The water released by the vegetables will begin to deglaze the pan and release a lot of flavor;
  11. Bring  the heat back up to medium high and add the red wine (1 cup) and port (1/2 cup).  Bring to boil scraping the bottom well;
  12. Add the veal or beef stock (2 cups) and bring back to boil;
  13. Return the meat to the pot with the bacon and add the bay leaves (2) and fresh thyme(4 sprigs);
  14. Cover and place in the oven for about 4 hours (check and move the meat around every hour to make sure it is evenly covered in liquid to prevent it from drying);
  15. Remove the pot from the oven and let cool.   When it has come to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours to allow the fat to solidify;
  16. Remove all the solid fat from the pot and take out the meat.  You can now pull the meat apart discarding any fat, connective tissue and bones (keep only what you would like to eat);
  17. Return the remaining sauce and vegetables to a low heat to warm.  Remove the bay leaves;
  18. Once warm, place in a blender and blend on high for a few minutes (by pureeing the vegetables with the sauce you add a lot of texture and flavour).  Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve - just use a spoon to stir it and push it slowly through;
  19. Return to heat and add 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar;
  20. Add the butter and whisk into the sauce;
  21. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  22. Add enough sauce to the meat to allow it to heat evenly when you are ready to serve.  Keep the rest to spoon over when serving;
  23. Serve with mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and glazed carrots and pearl onions;
  24. The meat and sauce can be frozen for up to one month.

Glazing vegetables is the best way to cook them so they have the most flavour. They will be slightly sweet (almost candied) and compliment the beef really well.  I always cook my carrots and onions this way.   You can then heat and serve them separately or add to the meat and sauce to make a stew.

Glazed Carrots, Pearl Onions and Sauteed Mushrooms

You will need:  to accompany the braised pulled short ribs (4 - 6 portions)

  • 4 medium carrots (different color carrots add a nice touch), peeled and cut in the 1 inch pieces (they should all be the same size so that they will cook evenly i.e. the thicker end should be cut in half so it resembles the thin end in size)
  • 1 bag of pearl onions (you can soak the onions in warm water to help remove the peel)
  • About 2 cups of sliced button mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) of butter
  • water
  • salt
  • sugar

  1. Place the carrots in a pan that is large enough to hold them so they are all in one layer and touch the bottom;
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of water, 1 tbsp (15ml) of butter, salt (large pinch) and sugar (large pinch);
  3. Bring the heat to medium high and cover with the lid leaving it ajar (this will prevent the water from evaporating too fast and allow enough time to cook the carrots).  If at any time there is no more water and the carrots are not quite cooked, add a little more water to the pan;
  4. When the carrots are tender when pierced with a knife, remove the lid.  There should be only a little water left in the pan.  If there is too much, remove most of it and return the pan to the heat;
  5. The bottom of the pan will begin to caramelize and the carrots will begin to colour slightly;
  6. Remove from the heat and proceed the same way with the pearl onions.  Use the same pan as the carrots (no need to clean it).  Scrape the bottom when you add the water to add even more flavor to the onions.  You can pierce them also with the tip of a knife to see if they are cooked and them let them color in the pan;
  7. Once again, using the same pan you cooked the onions in (not necessary to wash it), add 1 tbsp of butter, the sliced mushrooms and a pinch of salt.
  8. Sauté the mushrooms until the are softened and have released most of their water.  
  9. Season with freshly ground pepper.
  10. Serve on the side with the braised beef or add directly to the sauce to create a stew.

Some info on meat selection:  Chuck, brisket, shank and round are muscles that are used more and are therefore tougher.  They need a long cooking time to break down and become tender.  They are however cheaper and very flavourful!

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