The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.
I was pretty excited by this challenge. I love braised meat, and like trying new recipes. Gremolata was unfamiliar to me and I thought it was a great garnish!
I copied out the recipe we were given below.
Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs:
The quintessential braise ingredient is short ribs! This is a delicious version adapted from Ruhlman! He discusses short ribs and gremolata in this blog post - http://ruhlman.com/2010/03/gremolatawith-wine-braised-beef-short-rib/ I also used the same recipe to prepare oxtails and it was delicious! I think you could sub any tough cut of meat, including game, and I would stick to a 3 1bs (1-1/3 kg) limit.
Canola oil, for browning the ribs (can use any mild to non-flavored oil)
Plain/all-purpose flour, for dredging
8 beef short ribs* or 3 1bs (1-1/3 kg) of your choice of meat
2 large onion, cut into a large dice
Kosher Salt, to taste
4 carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 celery stalks cut into 1 inch (2½ cm) pieces
2 tablespoons (30 ml) tomato paste
3 cups (720 ml) Zinfandel or other fruit-heavy red wine (you may use beef stock or a combo with water)
1 head of garlic, cut horizontally
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey (you may substitute 2 tablespoons (30ml) brown sugar)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (2 gm) cracked peppercorns
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz/15 gm) butter, for sautéing
1 pound (450 gm) mushrooms, sliced thin
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1/3 oz/10 gm) minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (1/3 oz/10 gm) minced garlic
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (3/8 oz/12 gm) grated lemon zest.
*The ribs I used in this braise were 1 ½” (4 cm) thick – my butcher typically cuts a “value-cut”‘ at ¾” (2 cm) for his meat case. I do not think ribs this small would be appropriate for this recipe. I recommend at least 1” (2½ cm).
1. In a heavy ovenproof pot, add enough oil to cover the bottom about ¼” (5 mm).
2. Put some flour on a plate and dredge the short ribs (or your choice of meat) on all sides and shake off the excess.
3. When the oil is hot, add the ribs/meat and brown on all sides – you may have to do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan and steam instead of sear. You want to form a nice crust on the beef meat. There is lots of flavor in this.
4. Remove the ribs/meat and drain on paper towel.
5. Preheat the oven to very low 250°F/125°C/gas mark ½.
6. Drain off any remaining oil, and wipe pot clean.
7. Add a little canola oil to coat the bottom of the pot, add half the onions and cook over medium heat until the onions have softened.
8. Add a sprinkle of salt.
9. Add half the carrots and all the celery (refrigerate the onions and carrots for use later). Cook for 5 minutes – the longer you cook the vegetables and they caramelize you develop flavor – so you can brown them up.
10. Add tomato paste and stir around to heat through.
11. Place the ribs/meat in the pot – its ok if they go on top of each other now.
12. Add the wine (or stock/water if using) – 3 cups is just about the entire bottle and if it’s too early to enjoy a glass then you can add the entire bottle!
13. Add the garlic – its ok for the cloves to be unpeeled but remove the outer layers.
14. Add the bay leaves.
15. Season with a sprinkle of salt.
16. Add the honey and peppercorns.
17. Bring to a simmer.
18. Cover pot with the lid ajar or make a parchment lid to fit.
19. Place in the oven and cook for 4 hours – go shopping, gardening, clean the house, surf the net – but you have 4 hours to enjoy!
20. Remove the pot from the oven and allow cooling. Remove ribs meat and place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
21. Strain the braising liquid and allow chilling - then removing the congealed fat.
22. Sear mushrooms by placing them in a hot dry sauté or frying pan and cook for a minute or two each side, while pressing down with the spatula.
23. Melt butter in your braising pot.
24. Add the remaining onions and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes.
25. Add ribs and mushrooms.
26. Add the reserved braising liquid and meat.
27. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until carrots a fork tender.
28. For the Gremolata, stir together the parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Don’t skip this part – the Gremolata adds so much to this dish. You can also use orange zest too!
29. Serve ribs with mashed potato, buttered egg noodles or polenta – garnish with the Gremolata.