Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Beer Braised Short Ribs with Polenta

Despite the promise of spring around the corner the winter chill has yet to let go of the air. I keep trying to convince myself that it's time to start eating fresh and lite but when I come home at night what I really want is warm and filling. This weekend I had a little dinner party and I wanted something soulful- and easy to serve! Since these short ribs braise for hours there is no last minute rush before you have to serve them giving you plenty of time to clean up and serve your appetizers (to be posted next week) in peace!

Ingredients (serves 6):

4 -4.5 lbs Beef Short Ribs
(4.1 lbs were 6 perfectly portioned 5in
 long pieces when I bought mine at Whole Foods)

Spice Rub:

1/4 Cup packed Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon ground Chipotle Chili Pepper spice
2 teaspoons ground Ginger
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
2 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons black Pepper

Braising Liquid & Veggies:

3 large Carrots chopped
12 shallots (peeled whole)
28 oz Can of whole San Marzano Tomatoes
1/4 cup Dark Maple Syrup
1 3/4 Cups + 1/2 cup Beef Broth
2 (12oz) Bottles of your favorite dark ale
(I always use Firestone Double Barrel Ale when cooking beef)

Special equipment: You will need a heavy duty non reactive 6 qt pot (often called a Dutch oven)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

  On a sheet pan lined with foil pat dry and lay out your short ribs evenly spaced bone side down.
Sprinkle spice mix evenly over all surfaces lightly pressing it in to be sure they are thoroughly covered. Let the spice rub marinate the meat for 1 hour in the fridge (after the first 30 minutes I added any of the spice rib that I couldn't get to stick at first).
Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil over high heat in your pot just before smoking. Sear each piece on all 3 meaty sides excluding the bone ( the recipe I based this off of suggested about a minute on each side). I did mine in batches of two. Feel free to add a little more oil as you go if needed. After setting aside the seared meat lower the heat to medium low. Once the pot has cooled a little (2-3 minutes) add your half cup of beef stock to help deglaze some of the flavor that may have crusted to the bottom of the pan with a whisk. Proceed to add your chopped carrots and shallots letting them soften a little.
After 3 minutes or so add your braising liquids- the can of tomatoes, maple syrup, beef broth, & beer.
Add your ribs submerging them in the liquid (my pot was getting very full at this point so it took some wiggling to get them all situated in the liquid and veggies). Bring to a boil uncovered on the stove top. Once the liquid is boiling put the lid on and transfer your pot into your preheated oven (make sure before you preheat your oven to move the middle rack lower so there is space for your pot).

And with that all the hard work is done! Your short ribs will stay in the oven for 2- 2.5 hours and when they are done they will literally fall off the bone. I served mine over some polenta which can be made quickly right as you are ready to serve:

1 Cup Polenta grind corn meal
1 1/2 Cups Chicken stock
1 1/2 Cups water
2 Tablespoons Mascarpone (if you want your polenta a little creamy)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Bring stock and water to a boil in a sauce pan, slowly whisk in polenta, once it is all incorporated and cooked to desired thickness add mascarpone, salt & pepper.

Scoop a 1/2 cup or so of polenta on each plate and top with a short ribs, sauce and veggies. If you want an even thicker sauce about 30 minutes before you want to serve ladle out 2 cups of the braising liquid into a glass measuring vessel and put it in the freezer (about 10 minutes or so until the fat from the liquid has hardened on top so you can scoop it out) once you have removed the fat pour the liquid into a sauce pan and heat to boiling, in a small cup whisk together 1 Tablespoon of corn starch with 2 Tablespoons water, add to the boiling liquid while whisking continuously till your sauce is your desired thickness!
Rich and heart warming this is a wonderful winter weekend meal. I really love that once it's in the oven you don't have to worry about it and you have 2 and a half hours to do anything else you need to before serving. The combination of flavors is sweet smokey and spicy all my favorite things!

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