Recipe: Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs
Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.
I just returned to the East Coast after a three-week travel extravaganza that included a pop-up dinner in San Francisco where one of the patrons — fresh in from NYC — had dined at Daniel. He made a point of telling us that our dinner surpassed his experience at one of the titans of NYC’s restaurants. That’s a mighty high bar to meet or best and the compliment presents the perfect jumping off point for this week’s recipe.
I landed late on Friday night and less than 12 hours later was hard at work making a very special anniversary dinner for one of my clients. I chose Daniel Boulud’s (Daniel) cabernet-braised short ribs which I’ve made for years and amended to suit my tastes perfectly. These short ribs braise to a fork pull-apart tenderness and the sauce, after straining and reducing, is velvety rich. For a change I plated over individual potato onion rostis (oversized latkes) which to my surprise was an even better companion than my go-to crispy polenta rounds.
This recipe requires some prep time but once it’s in the oven braising you can leave it alone for hours and attend to the rest of your to-do list. Straining and reducing is also essential so don’t skip steps or you’ll deny yourself the pleasure of one of the most succulent dinners ever.
Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs
2 bottles dry red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 lbs. short ribs (bone in or out) trimmed of excess fat
Salt and crushed black peppercorns
Flour, for dredging
8 large shallots, peeled, trimmed, split, rinsed and dried
4 medium-sized carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
4 ribs of celery, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 medium-sized leeks (white and light-green parts), coarsely chopped, washed and dried
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves and 2 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart beef broth
1. Pour the wine into a large saucepan set over medium heat. When the wine is hot, carefully set it aflame. Let the flames die out, then increase the heat so that the wine boils; allow it to boil until it cooks down by a third. Remove from the heat.
2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F.
3. Warm the oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Season the ribs all over with salt and the crushed pepper. Dust half of the ribs with about 1 tablespoon flour. Then, when the oil is hot, slip the ribs into the pot and sear 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until well-browned. Transfer the ribs to a plate. Repeat with remaining ribs. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot, lower the heat under the pot to medium and toss in the vegetables and herbs. Brown the vegetables lightly, 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the wine, ribs and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and place in the oven to braise for 2 1/2 hours or until the ribs are very tender. Every 30 minutes, skim and discard fat from the surface. (It’s best to make the recipe to this point, cool and chill the ribs and broth in the pan overnight; scrape off the fat the next day. Rewarm before continuing.)
5. Carefully transfer the meat to a platter. Pass the sauce through a fine strainer and discard the solids. Return to the flame, heat to a simmer and reduce by half. Season with salt and white pepper. (The ribs and sauce can be combined and kept covered in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Reheat gently, basting frequently, on top of the stove or in a 350°F oven.)
6. To serve, slide the short ribs back into the sauce and gently heat. Plate on top of a polenta, pureed potatoes or rosti and spoon additional sauce on top.