Short Ribs

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.
Julia Child

To continue with the French Bistro recipes this week I made a wonderful short rib dinner adapting a couple of Patricia Wells recipes.  The short ribs can be made a day ahead reheated before plating and served with either wide noodles such as tagliatelle, pappardelle or crème fraîche mashed potatoes. 

Patricia suggests using a couple different beef cuts, but I think that the short ribs are the best.  My gravy was a little on the thin side and to thicken it I made a beurre manie to thicken it up a bit…2 tablespoons butter, two tablespoons flour and the grated zest of one orange, thoroughly blended and whisked in a little at a time until I had a thicker gravy.

Short Ribs adapted from Patricia Wells recipe

Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle red wine, such as a Cotes-du-Rhone
1 quart (1 l) Homemade Chicken Stock
2 large onions, peeled and halved crosswise, cut into thin rings
4 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds
4 fresh or dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Several strips of caul fat (optional)
Several marrow bones (optional)

Final garnish:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound (500 g) fresh mushrooms
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 ounces (150 g) pancetta, rind removed, cut into matchsticks
Tagliatelle, pappardelle or crème fraiche mashed potatoes
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
Parsley leaves, for garnish

In the casserole, heat the oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add several pieces of the meat and brown them over moderate heat, regulating the heat to avoid scorching the meat. Do not crowd the pan and be patient: Good browning is essential for the meat to retain flavor and moistness. Thoroughly brown the meat on all sides in several batches, about 10 minutes per batch. As each batch is browned, use tongs (to avoid piercing the meat) to transfer the beef to a platter. Immediately season generously with salt and pepper. Return all the meat to the casserole. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Flame the wine to burn off the alcohol. Be very careful here: Be sure nothing flammable is near the burner. It will take about 4 minutes to burn off the alcohol.

Add the stock, onions, carrots, bay leaves, and tomato paste. If using, add the caul fat and marrow bones. Cover and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat. Cook, covered, maintaining a very gentle simmer, until the meat is very tender, 3 to 4 hours. Stir from time to time to evenly coat the pieces of meat with the liquid. The sauce should be glossy and thick. Taste for seasoning. (The daube can be prepared a day in advance, covered and refrigerated.) Reheat at serving time.

Prepare the mushrooms: In a large, covered saucepan, combine the butter, mushrooms, and lemon juice. Cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms to the reheated daube. 

Prepare the pancetta: In a large skillet brown the pancetta over moderate heat until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to several layers of paper towel to absorb the fat. Blot the top of the pancetta with several layers of paper towel to absorb any additional fat.

Arrange several pieces of meat, the carrots, mushrooms and bacon on top of the pasta or potatoes. Garnish with parsley.

8 servings

Note: Use two to three different cuts of beef here, choosing from the top or bottom round, heel of round, shoulder arm or shoulder-blade, neck, or short ribs of beef.