Make, Jane, make!: Braised Short Ribs with Goat Cheese Polenta


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Monday, October 3, 2011

Braised Short Ribs with Goat Cheese Polenta

Fall is definitely here and the cool weather is perfect for meals that need prolonged oven time. Our butcher ordered too many short ribs a while back and I was lucky to find them at a discounted price in their freezer. Sometimes I like my short ribs with a bit of asian flair (i.e. soy sauce, garlic, ginger) but today I wanted something simple that was just about the beef...

...So I made an oven braised short rib with goat cheese polenta and some roasted rainbow carrots. Hubby was ecstatic when he came home because, as he put it, he was feeling "the bloodlust".

Here is my ghetto mise en place (yes, I have the veggies in my microwave cover) with the classic mirepoix triad of carrots, onions and celery. I cut the veggies on the large side because most will of them will cook down to a mush and lose their flavour to the sauce during the long braise time. I usually strain out most of the veggies and discard them, though I like to save a few of the larger pieces of carrot that still have some taste to them.

I cut my short ribs into small sections and dredged them in some flour which was seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.

And that was basically all the preparation needed for the meat. Next step was the brown the ribs on all sides. This was done in a few batches since I had four pounds of short ribs and they can only be browned a few at a time. If you put too many in there, too much steam builds up in the pot and the ribs start to cook rather than fry. Set all the browned short ribs aside in a bowl or plate.

Toss in all your veggies with a bit of salt. The bottom of your pan may be a mess at this point, but don't worry - the magical deglazing step will come later. (Note: I found some sliced leeks in the fridge and decided to throw those in too, just to use them up).

Cook the veggies until they start to soften and brown slightly, then add some red wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape, scrape, scrape up that yummy brown beef and partially caramelised veggie goodness.

Once the pan is deglazed, add your short ribs and any juices that may have accumulated on your plate. Pour in a healthy amount of beef broth and then top it up with water until the ribs are mostly submerged. Season with pepper, some thyme and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Once you've got it boiling, cover it and pop it into a preheated 375F oven for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender and almost falling off the bone.

Remove all the meat and any veggies you want to save from the pot and keep these covered and warm somewhere (I usually use a pyrex dish, since I'll need one later for the leftovers anyway!) Strain and separate the oil and mushy veggie bits from the remaining sauce and return the sauce to the pan. Turn up the heat and simmer away until the sauce has reduced down by at least one half and it is the thickness you like.

I like my sauce reduced to something that is thin enough to pour but thick enough to glaze a spoon. Taste it and re-season if necessary. It's doubtful you'll need it seasoned anymore because the beef and veggies were seasoned already and the sauce's flavours were concentrated during the reduction process.

Serve it all up! (Bed of polenta, side of oven roasted carrots, sauce ladled over the top - mmm)


Braised Short Ribs     Serves: 4 plus some leftovers

4 lbs short ribs, cut into serving sized sections
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup red wine
500ml beef broth
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
flour for dredging beef

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Dredge short ribs in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat your preferred oil in a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Brown short ribs on all sides, in batches. Reserve brown short ribs on a plate.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add onions, carrots and celery to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft and just starting to colour, 5-7 minutes.
  5. Increase heat to  medium-high, add red wine to vegetables, and deglaze pot. 
  6. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot. Add in beef broth and top up with water until the ribs are submerged.
  7. Add thyme, bay leaves and additional ground black pepper if desired. 
  8. Bring pot to a boil. Cover and place into oven. Braise for 2 hours or until the meat is tender and almost falling off the bone. (Check at the 1 hour point, if your short ribs are cut very thinly, they may already be done!)
  9. Remove ribs and any vegetables that you want to include in the final dish from the pot. Cover and set aside. (You may want to ladle some cooking liquid over the top to keep the ribs moist).
  10. Strain the cooking liquid, discard mushy vegetables and separate as much oil as possible from the liquid.
  11. Return the strained sauce to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Boil until the sauce has reduced by at least one-half. How much you want to reduce it is purely preference. I like mine thick enough to coat the meat, but not so thick as to be a gravy.

Hope you enjoy! Hubby and my meat-loving second son did! (Eldest, carb-loving son begrudgingly admitted it was good after trying some :)

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