Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Chimay Braised Shortribs
For a few years now (well before I was legally able to drink at least) I've believed that a light beer is a summertime drink. In the winter reach for porters, or lagers, or stouts. Keep the ales and heffs and whites and wheats for the summer. The spicier, heavier beers are perfect for winter foods. I was happy and very much content with my basic rules for drinking beer. (Other rules include only cheap beer for beer pong and always ALWAYS say no to light beer even for beer pong.) It was basic. Rudimentary even but I knew that I could safely order a beer and maybe guess the food pairing. Then *cue ominous music* Judy Rodgers came into my life.
You of course know Judy Rodgers as the mastermind behind the Zuni Cafe. Before we continue I have to confess that I have had the Zuni Cafe Cookbook in my possession for years. And today was the first time I used it. (Why yes, I am currently hanging my head in shame.). I always assumed it was among the legions of cookbooks that are meant to be coffee table books. Not actually used. (I'm looking at you French Laundry Cookbook) Today, I realized my mistake. The recipes in this book are easy, seasonal, and delicious. Take for example, the recipe that rocked my world today: Short Ribs Braised in Chimay Ale.
Some things I learned from this recipe: 1) the beers for braising are Belgian Ales. CLEARLY not the stouts I had been using. 2) Mustard was meant to be broiled.
While I could wax rhapsodic (is that the phrase? I'm never sure) for the next 3 weeks (ps: I can and will) for the purposes of saving time I am just going to tell you TO MAKE THESE SHORT RIBS. NOW!
Short Ribs Braised in Chimay Ale
adapted from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook
The notes before the recipe say that duck or goose legs are equally good in this preparation. Something to try next.
A note about the book: the ingredients and directions can be a tad vague. Just go with it. It will all work out.
About 2 1/2 pounds short ribs, cut across the bond into 2 in. bands
1 to 2 tablespoons mild olive oil
1 1/2 pounds yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 bay leaves
A few whole white peppercorns (I used black because its all I have and I don't like white pepper)
1/2 box crimini mushrooms sliced 1/4 inch thick
Up to 1 cup beef or chicken stock
Up to 1 cup Chimay ale or similar Belgian style ale
About 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
Cooking the Shortribs:
Preheat oven to 300. Evenly sprinkle salt all over shortribs. Warm oil in a 3 heavy oven safe pan. Wipe pieces of meat dry. Brown short ribs on the three meaty sides. Pour off excess fat.
Return meat to pan with bone side down. Add onions, bay, peppercorns, mushrooms, and equal parts stock and ale to come to a depth of about 3/4 of a inch. Cover and put in oven for 2 hours. Rotate meat 2 or 3 times during cooking. Remove from oven, remove meat, prop pan at slight angle and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Turn on the broiler.
Skim fat that has collected at the lower side of the pan. Taste juice and simmer as needed to concentrate the flavor. Salt as needed. Put meat back in juice bone side down then brush or smear the tops with mustard. Set the pan under the broiler, about 5 inches from the element, to brown the mustard and glaze the surface of the onion stew, about 5 minutes.
Serve with mashed potatoes or spatzle.