Not much is going on around here and yet I still somehow found a way to procrastinate enough on writing this post that it’s taken me three days to write this paragraph. A blur of Facebook, naps, Naruto episodes, cookbooks, more naps, and a distopian novel seems to have swallowed up my time. Somewhere along the way I learned The Cup Song with all it’s cup-thumping intricacies though so some good does come out of killing time doing nothing. Ah! there is nothing better than a good distraction to brighten the dullness and dull the listlessness of waiting…waiting…waiting for the school year to be over.
The best distraction this week was, of course, culinary. It came in the form of three pounds of luscious beef short ribs and a few hours spent on researching possible cooking methods. In the first five minutes I decided it would be braised but that was about the extent of my decisiveness. Even with my mental Excel sheet of each recipe’s ingredient proportions, hundreds of comments chipping in their tips, and plenty of superlatives guiding me to “The Perfect Short-Ribs,” it was overwhelming deciding on a single one lest I miss out on that other recipe that was met with rave reviews. In the end, in a rather uncharacteristically unadventurous decision, I went with one that I had made before (the last time I went through hours of research on short-ribs…).
But that also means it was good enough to be made again. It was one originally chosen out of laziness and a love of economy, I admit. It uses just one cup of wine instead of a whole bottle, doesn’t require beef stock (which I keep on hand and for some reason is on the brink of extinction in the local supermarkets), and requires no browning. No browning! Even so, it is every bit as meltingly rich and succulent as I expect of a dish with such a devoted following.
Oven Braised Short-Ribs
Notes: The age old adage “Cook only with wine you would drink” that is repeated on just about every other recipe for short ribs ever, is a tricky one in my case because, well, not like I would know…ahem. So I used a bottle of two-buck Charles Shaw and it worked fine. Would it be better with $12 wine? Perhaps. Use your own judgement.
Also, short ribs are a notoriously fatty cut of meat, which contributes to its velvety texture but also about a 1/4 inch of covering of fat covering your dish. A tidy way to solve this is by starting the day before you want to eat the short ribs. In the early afternoon, start marinating so you can bake at night. Finish through step two then let it cool overnight. The fat will solidify into a nice airtight lid. The next day, about two hours before you plan to eat, continue with step three, making sure to remove the solid fat before doing so. Then you will have succulent meat without the excessive coat of oil.
1 medium onion, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup red wine
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 1/2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut into separate ribs (English style)
1 cup water
3 carrots, sliced into 1″ rounds
- Combine the ingredients up to the pepper in an oven-proof casserole, preferably with a lid. Add the short ribs and turn them so that all sides have been coated in the liquid. Cover with the lid (or fashion one out of aluminum foil) and refrigerate them for about 6 hours, turning when you remember.
- Take them out of the fridge while you preheat the oven to 400 F. After about half an hour, pour in 1 cup of water, recover, and stick the casserole in the oven to braise for 1 1/2 hours.
- Reduce the temperature to 375. Flip over the short ribs, add the sliced carrots to the casserole, recover, and continue baking for another hour to 1 1/2 hours. Serve with the glaze and potatoes of some sort. (Right now I’m fond of scrubbed new potatoes, thrown in at the last hour of baking, smeared with a little crème fraîche while they’re piping hot. You can also do mashed potatoes, pureed parsnips if you’re feelin’ crazy…)