Happy New Year! Where I live in the Midwest, we woke up to 12F and a fresh layer of snow this morning. Brrrrrr. Since winter will be with us for another 3 months, it’s time for warm, comforting food! Slow braised and tender beef short ribs are the epitome of comfort food; fashionable enough to be served in restaurants, easy enough to make at home. My husband and I enjoyed this particular recipe (courtesy of Half Baked Harvest) at our mid-December gourmet group dinner hosted by good friends. We enjoyed it so much that we decided it would become our family Christmas Dinner.
Please excuse the quality of the photos as I was taking them while cooking and entertaining so simply used my cell phone. 😏
Beef short ribs are a generously fatty piece of meat cut into short sections with the flat rib bone intact. Each short rib is cut to about 3-4 inches in length. Slow braising is the best way cook short ribs after which they become fall-off-the-bone tender. They have become very popular in the last 10-15 years and therefore, have come more pricey. You can expect to pay about $10 a pound. You may wonder why pay so much for a piece of meat that you have to cook long and slow in order to get them tender? One bite will answer that question.
^Just before going into the oven ^
Our hosts at the gourmet group dinner served the ribs over Pappardelle pasta, with the juices from the braising liquid drizzled over the pasta. My husband requested mashed potatoes for our Christmas dinner, which is the most common way to serve them. Other options for serving them are mashed parsnips or squash, polenta, or egg noodles. I added sides of sautéed green beans with shallots, and sautéed mushrooms, which were delicious compliments to the meat and potatoes.
And, you can make them a day ahead if you like! Braising the meat a day ahead gives you the opportunity to easily remove all of the congealed fat from the pan juices once it has been refrigerated. You could also remove the bones, if you desire but I like the way they look on the plate.
Don’t balk at the cranberries in this recipe. You won’t taste them but they add a wonderful complexity to the flavor of the sauce.
Beef Short Ribs Braised with Cranberries and Red Wine
5 pounds bone in, beef short ribs
kosher salt and black pepper
2-3 tablespoons avocado oil for searing the ribs (has a high smoke point),
2 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing the vegetables
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 carrots, chopped
3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
2 cups organic beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 cups fresh cranberries
Mashed potatoes or Pappardelle Pasta for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat the avocado oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the ribs on as many sides as you can. Don’t crowd, brown in batches, if necessary. This takes about 3 minutes per side to get a good sear. Remove the ribs to a baking tray. (At this point, after browning the ribs, there will be quite of bit of fat in the pot. I poured as much of the fat off into a Pyrex bowl. Then, I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil to sauté the vegetables.)
Add the onions, shallots, and carrots, cook 5-10 minutes or until the onions begin to caramelize. Add the wine, broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, garlic cloves, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and gentle stir to blend. Return the short ribs to the pot and sprinkle the cranberries over the ribs. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until the short ribs are tender and falling off the bone.
Remove the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Serve the ribs along with some of the vegetables over a bed of mashed potatoes and drizzle with the pan juices.
My Favorite Mashed Potatoes
Makes 6 servings
3 pounds potatoes (about 6-8 potatoes), preferably a combination of russet potatoes and large Yukon Golds
4 tablespoons butter, more for dotting
1/2-3/4 cup whole milk or light cream
Peel and quarter potatoes and keep in cold water until ready to cook. (This can be done up to 4 hours in advance.). When ready to cook, place potatoes in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until a knife goes in with almost no resistance. (It is better to overcook than to undercook.)
Drain potatoes well and return to pot. Shake them around in the hot pan over the heat for a minute to remove excess water from the potatoes. Place potatoes back into the strainer and, using a potato ricer, rice a few pieces of potato at a time back into the pot. When all the potatoes are riced, gently mix in the butter until melted. Then add enough milk or cream to get the creamy consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To keep hot until ready to serve, transfer to serving bowl, dot top with butter, cover tightly and keep in a warm place, like the back of the stove. Potatoes will stay hot for at least 30 minutes. Some people like to keep them warm in a crock pot. Before serving, mix well.
Also, it’s easy to reheat mashed potatoes that have cooled off. Put the in a pan over medium heat and keep stirring gently until warmed or microwave, stirring occasionally. You may need to add more milk to make them creamy again. Dot with more butter and serve.
Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots
Adapted from Epicurious
1 pounds slender green beans or haricots vert, stem ends trimmed
2-3 shallots, sliced
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves are even better)
Have a large bowl of ice water ready.
Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Add the green beans and return to a boil. Cook until just tender, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and transfer immediately to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain on a clean dish towel or paper toweling. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in several layers of paper towels. Seal in plastic bag and chill.)
Trim ends and peel shallots. Cut lengthwise in half, then slice. Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; sauté until shallots are browned and tender, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Shallots can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover loosely with foil and let stand at room temperature).
Add pre-cooked and drained green beans to the shallots in skillet and stir over medium-high heat until heated through, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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