Sunday, February 24, 2013

Provencale Braised Beef Short Ribs

It"s February, the dead of winter, early on Saturday. Miserable outside, cold and windy. With nothing better to do, and plenty of time ahead of me, I decided to defrost a wonderful looking set of grass fed beef short ribs that a friend had recently given me. This is not a quick recipe so I plan to spend the whole day in the kitchen. It is the perfect recipe for a cold winter day. Although not complicated, just to prepare the Mise en place takes hours. It's simmered long and slow in veal stock reinforced with vegetables, and then refreshed with fresh vegetables for during the finishing. What results is one of the heartiest meals you can make. You will need a nap after eating this. More importantly, it's cheap. It utilizes one of the lesser cuts of beef and yet results in a drop dead mouth watering meal. Served sliced with mashed potatoes or noodles, a crusty baguette drenched in butter, a glass of dry red wine, and all your efforts will be worthwhile.

Provencale, a la - a dish including garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and often black olives and prunes.

NOTE: With the prunes, this dish will end up with a subtle sweetness to it. If that does not appeal to you simply illuminate the prunes.


1/4 c. Olive Oil
2-3 lbs of Beef Short Ribs
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
All Purpose Flour
4 c. Yellow Onion - 1/2" Dice

2 c. Celery - 1/2 Dice
2 c. Carrots- 1/2" Dice
1 Head of Garlic - Each clove cut in half lengthwise
2 c. Leeks - White Part Only - 1/2" Dice
3 oz. Tomato Paste
2 Tb Dijon Mustard
Dried Spices: Equal parts - Use less than you think you need- a pinch each
Thyme, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary
Bay leaf - 2 each
2 c. Dry Red Wine - Cabernet Savignoin
7 oz Diced Tomato with juice
Maggie - 1 Tsp

1 Quart-'ish Veal Stock - This is a non-negotiable ingredient
1/4 c. Nicoise or Kalamata Olives - Pitted - halved
5 oz. Dried Prunes

Mise en place

  *I told you this was not a recipe that was quick or for the feint of heart

Separate Ribs onto Single Ribs - rinse under cold water - pat dry
Liberally add Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to meat
Dredge lightly in flour - your just using the flour to further dry off the meat 

Now you need a Dutch Oven. It don't have to be Le Creuset at hundreds of dollars each, just as good as you can afford and at least 5 1/2 quarts. - Again this is a non-negotiable item for this recipe

Bring the Dutch Oven to temp slowly, starting out on low heat and progressively increase it to medium high. This should take about a half and hour. When it's to temp..

Brown the meat on all sides on as I said medium high heat. Don't rush it, you want the meat brown on all sides without burning it or the oil.

Remove the meat to the side. Wipe out the Dutch Oven with paper towels, add fresh Olive Oil

Add HALF OF THE - Carrots, Celery and Onions, saute until Onions are translucent

Add HALF OF THE Leeks and Garlic - saute until all starts to brown

Reserve the remaining vegies

Add mustard and tomato paste, saute until paste starts to caramelize (about 5 minutes stirring constantly)

Deglaze with Red Wine - reduce by 1/3

Add Spices, Bay Leaf, Maggie, Diced Tomatoes with Juice, add 1 Quart of Veal Stock - mix - add Meat

Bring to a boil and IMMEDIATELY turn down to the point where it's just barely simmering. Set Timer to 3 hours - Once you are SURE you have established a just barely simmering state, place the cover the Dutch Oven with the lid leaving a space for steam to escape.

Simmer until meat is just about falling off bone adding Veal Stock as necessary - this can take a very long time depending on how fast or slow your simmer is - Today mine took nearly 5 hours - DO NOT LET IT BOIL

When proper meat tenderness is attained (Meat all but falling off bone) GENTLY remove meat to the side. Strain sauce. Place sauce and meat in a container that will fit in your refrigerator. Let sit overnight. This will allow the flavors to marry more, but more importantly will allow the grease released by the meat to solidify on top. Then the next day you can easily remove it.

The next day, after removing the grease

Reheat sauce and meat. Last night I got tired of tending this so I took it off a little before it was tender enough. It has still gone nearly five hours. So I removed the meat, strained the sauce, and put the meat and sauce into a bowl and into the refrigerator overnight. The picture above is the next morning after removing what fat I could. So I started off exactly the same as yesterday, sauteing my mirepoix which I luckily had plenty of, adding a touch of tomato paste, caramelizing that, and deglazing with more Dry Red Wine. To that I added more veal stock and then the meat went back in. So as you can now tell I have deviated from the original recipe, but such is what cooking is all about.

I let this simmer another two hours, removed the meat and strained the sauce again. Prepared the olives and dried prunes, and got a little more diced tomatoes and another batch of fresh vegetables ready.

The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon at this point.
Add the sauce back to the Dutch Oven, bring to a simmer again
Separately saute remaining vegetables until onions are translucent  add the olives, prunes and tomato  Saute until heated, add them to sauce and meat.

Simmer until you can easily poke a fork into the meat. Remove the meat. Let it stand for 15 minutes. Do not let the sauce boil.

Taste sauce...does it need more salt or pepper? A dash more of Maggie possibly? You could still add more of your spices but if you would want to at this point fresh would be the best choice as dried spices only release their true flavor over a long time, whereas fresh ones release their flavors quickly and turn bitter with long cooking. I added fresh thyme at the end for 15 minutes or so.

When your happy with the flavor - Your done - As I said in the beginning - Served sliced with mashed potatoes or noodles, a crusty baguette drenched in butter, a glass of dry red wine, and all your efforts will be worthwhile.  enjoy!

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