Friday, November 07, 2014

Praising the Braise: Short Ribs Excel

You don't need a spreadsheet to tell you that short ribs are the pinnacle of what braised meat should be. All you have to do is walk into a kitchen, your very own or, lucky you, that of someone who's invited you to dinner, the air thick with the rich aroma of a long-simmered sauce, slightly caramelized on the edges of the pot where the liquid has reduced down to its exquisite essence.

I'd clutched my memories of the beauty of this past summer's astonishing weather close to my heart, trying to prolong the warmth and sun, but eventually they simply faded in my arms and I had to admit it was, indeed, late fall at last. But remorse at this loss quickly turned to thoughts of the quarts and quarts of roasted tomatoes in my freezer, each one a condensation of that sensational weather waiting to be revived.

So please bear with me as I make my way through my stash, embracing the joys of braising season, knowing that summer will eventually come around again.

Braised Short Ribs

1 c. flour
3 Tbsp. olive oil
8 short ribs, about 2 1/2-3 lbs.
2 med. onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. oregano
12 oil-cured olives, pitted and halved
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. paprika or Spanish smoked paprika
Large pinch saffron
1 tsp. salt
1 qt. roasted tomatoes
1 c. red wine

Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove short ribs from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Salt short ribs on all sides. Put flour in gallon zip-lock bag (or small paper bag). Place salted short ribs, two at a time, into bag and shake to cover with flour, removing them to a platter as you do so.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven. Add short ribs and brown on all sides. Remove to platter. Add onions to oil in pan, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Sauté till translucent. Add garlic and sauté briefly. Place pinch of saffron and salt in mortar and pestle and grind into powder. Add saffron-salt mixture, oregano and paprika and stir. Add olives, bay leaves, tomatoes and wine and bring to a simmer. Add short ribs back to pan. Cover and place in oven and braise for 2-3 hrs.

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