Braised Beef Short Ribs

When James Beard would drill into his socialite students in San Francisco the importance of searing (sealing) meat before braising it, he would also ask, “Why do all that browning with the fat spitting everywhere when you can broil it?” He’s right, of course, especially when it comes to veal, which spits like crazy, burning uncovered arms.

With the broiling method, however, one needs a very rich stock, since there are no wonderful caramelized bits stuck to the bottom of the browning pan to enrich the braising liquid and later the sauce. Serve with the oven-roasted vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds short ribs from prime or best-quality beef
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 cups aromatic vegetable mix
  • 3 cups Cabernet or Zinfandel wine
  • 6 cups veal-beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon whole fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut or walnut oil
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon jasmine-cardamom-chili oil or another flavored oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put the thyme, orange zest, and garlic in a small mixing bowl and mix together. Rub the marinade mixture into the ribs. Cover and marinate at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. Take out and let come to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat the broiler to high, and the oven to 300 degrees. Wipe the marinade off the ribs and season them, reserving the marinade. Broil the ribs for 8 minutes on each side. Put the vegetable mix in a heavy nonreactive braising casserole (big enough to hold the ribs in one layer) along with the reserved marinade ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Then add the ribs side by side. Add the wine and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a very low simmer, then put in the oven and braise covered for 1½ hours, or until the ribs are tender.

Remove the ribs, then put in a bowl and cover with a wet towel. Strain the braising liquid into a saucepan and simmer over low heat, slightly off to the side of the burner, skimming off any fat and scum that rises to the top, as explained on page 30.

Keep cleaning the liquid and reduce it to half its original volume. Take off the heat, and pour over the ribs. Let the ribs sit in this sauce overnight if possible (refrigerated), otherwise, let them stay in this sauce until ready to reheat and serve on heated plates.

Put pinches of salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl, whisk in the sherry vinegar, and then the zest, tarragon, and oil. Add the parsley leaves and dress them. Put the hot ribs on hot plates, put parsley salad in center of ribs, and pass the jasmine oil to drizzle over it all.

Variations

Finish the sauce with a puree of fried boletus mushrooms (use ¼ cup) or sliced fresh black truffles. Finish the ribs as for the beef cheeks and heat in the oven, or deep-fry and serve with the ketjap dipping sauce or just the orange Sichuan pepper salt.

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