I bake a lot, but when it comes to cooking, I'm just not as proficient. I'm not a terribly creative person and I think cooking tends to be a more creative endeavor. I like to bake because it's a more exact science....follow the recipe, get a yummy treat. Sure, there are plenty of cooking "recipes" too but it's just not the same in my mind. Eventually I hope to improve my cooking skills and this recipe was definitely a step in the right direction. It was outside of my comfort zone for sure.
This is a time consuming recipe, though to be fair, most of the time the ribs are in the oven and you really don't have to do much but check to make sure there's enough liquid in the pot. I hope to catch a rerun of the episode of Anne Burrell's show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, on which she makes this recipe. The instructions were fairly clear, but I'd still feel better seeing what exactly the "crud" on the bottom of the pan was supposed to look like, among other things. I did my best, stuck the ribs in the oven and waited anxiously for them to cook.
I served the ribs with couscous and they were definitely worth the effort. I had the most amazing short ribs here on our honeymoon and these didn't live up to that experience, but they were delicious. We made a ton of ribs and I reheated them for a few meals and they were just as good when reheated, a definite bonus. We'll try making them again, maybe with a different recipe, though I'm not sure the recipe was the problem as much as the inexperienced cook :)
Braised Short Ribs
6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds)
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves
Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crud and let it reform. Scrape the crud again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half.
Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water or until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.