Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs - March 2012 Daring Cooks Challenge
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”.
Short ribs - lots of flavor but difficult to cook to edible status, unless you braise. We have avoided short ribs because we generally associate ribs with grilling. The couple of time we've mistakenly tried to cook beef short ribs with our traditional techniques - par-boil or slow-roasting, then finishing on the grill - we've been left with tough, impossible-to-chew chunks with no flavor nor tenderness.
The exciting part about joining the Daring Kitchen was to learn new cooking techniques. So, when this month focused on learning to properly braise and our minds automatically go to meat, we were hooked. In all, while this recipe is heavy on the time commitment, it's rather light in the labor department. Yes, you need to clean and chop a few veggies. Yes, you need to let the ribs simmer in the oven for about 4 hours. However, the fall-off-the-bone tenderness will convince you that you need a go-to recipe for short-ribs when they go on sale.
We made very few changes to the recipe for Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs from Carol (and probably Michael Ruhlman). I bought the last two packages of short ribs available (no, I'm lame - Kroger doesn't cut short ribs in-store) and our meat was around 2 1/2 pounds rather than three pounds. We only used about 12 ounces of fresh, sliced mushrooms rather than the pound suggested because Harry and I are still learning to embrace the fungus. AND, we added about a tablespoon of red wine vinegar to the sauce near the end because ours turned out very earthy and dark and we preferred to brighten it up. Oh - and we served it over rice. The common recommendation is to serve this recipe over mashed potatoes, buttered noodles or polenta. Sorry - we love rice!
Our impressions of the challenge:
* Texture: 5 out of 5! The beef short ribs were incredibly tender, regardless of my feelings as to how they were cut. The meat fell from the bone and I was able to cut through the chunks with my fork. The fat was cooked away during the braise.
*Technique: If I go from the mindset of an inexperienced cook, I have to give this a 3 out of 5. In all honesty, the technique for slow-braising is going to frighten off a cook who's not very experienced in the kitchen. They might not have a pot that will work for the braising method. They might be frightened by the length of time in the oven and not believe the adage that they can just 'walk away' while the meat slow-cooks in the oven. With our kitchen skills, this technique and recipe were a breeze to follow. (Well, I might still be lacking in the searing department.)
*Taste: I think I'm being unfair to give the taste a 4 out of 5, but I know that it's our personal tastes. The honey, during the slow-braising process, cut through the acidity of the wine and the tomato paste, leaving a pleasant but not syrupy sweet taste in the braising liquid. However, we finish almost every dish with a splash or two of some type of vinegar to brighten up the taste. I have to agree, with the exception of the mushrooms (because I'm trying to learn to embrace the fungus), the portion that I reheated the next day was delicious.
You can visit The Daring Kitchen for the complete recipe for Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs and more.