Friday, December 4, 2009



Here's yet another recipe from Cooks Illustrated that must be shared. It's a perfect meal for a cold day, with its lengthy braise creating wonderful aromas through the house, and a stick-to-your-ribs (no pun intended) finish. I offer the recipe here exactly as it appears in the magazine. Unflavored gelatin is called for because no bones are used in this recipe; therefore the thickening effect of the natural gelatin found in bones is lost. I didn't have any gelatin on hand, so I skipped that step to no noticeable detriment. The sauce is already so rich and delicious (and yet so simple--it's all about reduction and strengthening flavors) that the additional unctuousness of gelatin would be a cherry on an already over-the-top cake. (You can use bone-on ribs if you want, but they take up a lot of room in the pan and produce at least six times the fat as their boned counterparts. Substitute 7 pounds of bone-on ribs with at least an inch of meat on the top.)

I used rice as a starch to carry the sauce just because we were mashed potatoed-out after Thanksgiving. The peas added sweetness to the whole. But accompaniments, of course, are up to you.

3 1/2 pounds meaty boneless short ribs, at least 4 inches long and 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions , peeled and sliced thin from pole to pole (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 medium garlic cloves , peeled
2 cups hearty red wine such as cabernet
1 cup beef broth
4 large carrots , peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until smoking. Add half of beef and cook, without moving, until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn beef and continue to cook on second side until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes longer, reducing heat if fat begins to smoke. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and meat.

Reduce heat to medium, add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. (If onions begin to darken too quickly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to pan.) Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it browns on sides and bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high, add wine and simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth, carrots, thyme, and bay leaf. Add beef and any accumulated juices to pot; cover and bring to simmer. Transfer pot to oven and cook, using tongs to turn meat twice during cooking, until fork slips easily in and out of meat, 2 to 2½ hours.

Place water in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top; let stand at least 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer meat and carrots to serving platter and tent with foil. Strain cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator or bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Allow liquid to settle about 5 minutes and strain off fat. Return cooking liquid to Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture; season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over meat and serve.


Peewit said...

Oh, I don't log on for a couple of days and I come back and find two recipes and a new masthead. I think I prefer the first recipe!

Seriously, I am very envious of your house despite the fact I don't want to move but compared to my cramped semi-detached house yours is a palace.

I've never been a great fan of ribs. There always seems to be so much effort to cook when at the end of the day there is very little meat to be had. Having said that past experience has shown that U.S. ribs are generally at least twice the size of U.K ribs

The verification thingie is asking me to type "tatinash". I immediately thought of a tarte tatin made with mashed potatoes

Mim said...

Didn't take the time to comment on yesterday's post and here you have another today..yippee.
Love the house picture/header picture.
And it does blend so nice into your landscape.Wonderful.
Love the roof line of the house too.Erratic about the shutter man!
Are you feeling like a light at the end of the tunnel in regards to commuting from the rental to this house? Seems like it won't be long now.

Ralph said...

Yes, Peewit, I guess we Yanks do make a specialty of ribs. If you look at the size of those pieces of meat in the picture--that's three hunks of pure meat, not a bone there. Finding such beautiful boneless beef ribs can be rare here in a regular supermarket (but I got these there), but not so hard on special order from a butcher.

And don't even get me started on the various cuts of pork ribs we can get here, all meaty, all delicious....

Ralph said...

Hi, Mim. Yes, things are moving along at a good clip--it'll seem more "real" when water and electric are hooked up, but everything in its time. We are so ready to leavea this little place, although it serves its purpose well and we really enjoy the proximity to Edenton.

Cuidado said...

Yum, yum! Ribs are a specialty of mine. I never follow a recipe though, just throw whatever I have in.. Great for a meal for a crowd because you throw it in the oven and turn a couple times. Easiest thing ever.

Ralph said...

You're so right, Cuidado. Don't know about Canada, though, but here it's relatively hard to find good, meaty beef ribs. It's a treat when they're in the stores and I buy a supply and freeze them.

I'm sure however you do them is delicious. Whaet I appreciate about this recipe is its utter simplicity and its reliance on concentrated natural flavors--I guess it's as much the technique as ingredients that I like.

Anonymous said...

Well thank you Ralph Cherry! Great song and great foodie recipe, my, my. You wrote this post for me, I just know it. And I love the new masthead photo . . . I bet you update it in the spring when the entrance to it is in bloom. Looks like an adorable cottage in the woods. Really good going and thanks again for the recipe. Will put it in the oven this Sunday.

Ralph said...

Enjoy, Z&M! As for the hosue: I hope the deer and the rabbits don't eat the landscape before it blooms!

Anonymous said...

I served this with German Berry beer and chicago hard rolls, lots of real butter. We pigged out. Put in the recipe "Great for leftovers" as the taste is enhanced overnight. The meat still soft. This is a good one! Thanks.

Ralph said...

The beer accompaniment is perfect--in fact I have a recipe for these ribs braised in beer instead of wine that I want to try.

Cuidado said...

See what I mean - Whatever you have in the fridge.