Last Sunday I went to see my parents. The weather reports predicted doom and gloom, so I suggested to Pops that we try out this recipe. It uses beef short ribs, a cut I've never cooked with before and having had such a good reaction from Just Cook It, it was definitely a goer.
Of course, Sunday brought us glorious sunshine. This picture is taken from the patio of my parents' place. It was a perfect spring scene. After a light lunch of octopus braised in a spicy tomato sauce and a glass of wine, I contemplated what the dish ahead would bring us. And then we sprang into action; it does take 5 hours to cook, after all.
Beef short ribs are a cut I've often seen used in Korean cooking, whereby they're cooked quickly - a dish that I believe is called Galbijim. However, we took a much different approach and braised the beef ribs in a mixture of wine, stock and a medley of vegetables. We tweaked the recipe slightly by adding some rosemary and not bothering with cubing and frying the meat, but I don't think we lost out on any flavour. This is also an extremely cheap cut of meat. The beef is raised and butchered on a nearby farm (nearby being Godstone, Surrey) and has a rich and almost gamey flavour. At £3 per kilo, it's definitely credit crunch cooking. The whole flat filled up with the smell of cow when we were searing the meat.
The result? Gorgeous, unctuous meat that fell off the bones with a gentle prod. The resultant sauce was deeply flavoured with the wine and the beef bones. Granted, we didn't have any bone marrow like the original recipe did, but the dish was enough to fill all the flavour expectations I had. A spring onion mash was perfect for mopping up the juices, and the prerequisite greenery of choice was steamed broccoli to accompany it.
This is, of course quite a fatty dish. I spent a good 10 or 15 minutes skimming the fat off the sauce, but what would make it easier is if you made it the day before so that the fat solidifies and can be removed more easily. The initial frying stage renders a lot of the fat out anyway, and Pops remarked that maybe later it would be good spread on a piece of bread and sprinkled with a bit of salt, like in the good ol' days. Gulp.
Braised Beef Ribs
Serves 4 generously
2.2kg beef short ribs (this sounds like a lot, but the bones are heavy. Honest.)
1 bottle of a robust red wine
2 stalks of celery
3 large carrots
2 red onions
2 spigs of rosemary
Salt & pepper
200ml chicken stock
1 tbsp plain flour
Preheat the oven to 130 degrees C. Get a non stick frying pan really hot and sear your ribs, fat side down. This may be done in 2 or 3 batches. Ensure you get all sides of the beef a rich, dark brown. When this is done, season liberally with salt and pepper and place it in a large casserole dish.
Chop your carrots, onions, leek and celery roughly. Fry this until softened, and then add to the casserole dish with the beef. Place the dish on the hob, add the bottle of red wine, and bring to the boil. Boil for 3 or 4 minutes to burn the alcohol off, then add the stock. Put the lid on and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 4 hours. We lasted 3.5 hours before I said "enough is enough!". The smell of the beef cooking was driving me bonkers.
Carefully lift the beef out of the casserole and place on a plate to rest. Sieve the liquid into a saucepan, discard the vegetables and skim off the fat. I must've got almost a pint out. Simmer the liquid for half an hour (while your potatoes are cooking) until nice and reduced. At this point, we added a flour and water paste to thicken it up a bit.
Take the meat off the bones of the beef, and if you like fry in a little butter. We didn't bother, but instead dished it up and tucked in.
It took 5 hours to cook, and 20 minutes to eat. But it was worth it.