Saturday, December 31, 2016

Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs

Flavorful and tender, braised beef short ribs make an excellent dinner, especially when cooked with sweet onions and beer. You can use bone-in or boneless for this recipe, and because of the long, slow braise they are easy to prepare in the slow cooker (Crockpot), if you prefer.

Julian's Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs
I usually serve pork as a traditional New Year's meal. But when I found out my guests didn't eat pork, I had to come up with an alternative. This recipe rings in the New Year right. It goes well with just about everything and who doesn't like food cooked in beer? I'm serving it here with a wild rice dish with shaved Brussels sprouts, cranberries and nuts. But it would go equally well with mashed potatoes.

Browning the Ribs in Small Batches
The term "short ribs" comes from the fact that the cut of meat contains only a portion of each long beef rib. However, local grocers and butcher shops often do not differentiate between the various cuts of short ribs, which can come from the beef brisket, chuck, plate, and rib. In the U.S., short ribs from the plate are generally the least expensive cut, followed by the brisket and chuck, and then premium-priced short ribs from the rib area. Rarely will you find these marked.

Boneless short ribs, like those I'm cooking today, are cut from either the chuck or plate, and consist of rib meat separated from the bone.  Don't be confused by something labeled "Boneless country-style short ribs" because these are not actually short ribs at all, but rather are cut from the chuck eye roll, a less expensive cut of meat. I bought my boneless ribs at Costco, and based on the rich marbling, I would guess they are from the chuck. You can find a full discussion of the Costco boneless ribs on this site. I have used these before and find if I select a well-marbled package, they are more tender when braised.

Short ribs generally require long periods of cooking in order to break down the connective tissues and make the meat tender. I'm doing mine in a long, moist braise today. But you can alternatively just dry rub them and roast them covered, very low and slow for about 4 hours (at say 225F degrees.) If they were well marbled and bone-in, these will also come out very well.

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
3-5 pounds beef short ribs (cut into pieces)
BBQ rub (store bought or my recipe)
2 carrots (peeled and roughly chopped)
2 sweet onions (widely sliced)
2 celery stalks (roughly chopped)
2 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
1 bottle beer, dark
1 bottle beer, light
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
pinch thyme
pinch rosemary
pinch oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat slow cooker on low or your oven to 275F degrees.

Season the short ribs lightly with the rub. Heat a Dutch oven or deep skillet over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and heat until very hot (just before smoking). Add the short ribs and brown on all sides, in small batches. Remove from pan and drain all but one tablespoon of fat from pan. Place the browned short ribs into your cooking vessel (roasting pan, Dutch oven or Crockpot.)

Deglaze the pan with the half the bottle of light-colored beer, scraping with a wooden spoon to remove the brown bits. Reduce the liquid by half and pour over the beef ribs.

Will the heat still on high, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and add the onions. Stir gently for about 5 minutes until they are reduced and tender. Add the carrots and celery and cook stirring gently, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in the spices. Pour in the remaining bottle and half of beer and deglaze the pan by scraping up any remaining bits with a wooden spoon. Continued cooking until the liquid is reduced by half and then add the tomato paste and chicken stock and stir together.

Pour the vegetable-liquid mixture over the ribs. Do your best to get all of the meat submerged. Cover and cook approximately 3-4 hours or until meat is fork tender. Transfer the ribs to a plate and cover to keep warm. Using a slotted spoon, remove any vegetable solids that remain and reserve in a bowl.

Let the liquid settle a bit so the fat rises to the top and then spoon off the fat from the liquid, or use a large gravy/fat separator.  Taste and add more salt and fresh black pepper as necessary. Add back the vegetables and either spoon over the servings of meat OR using a stick blender, puree the solids into the liquid making more of a gravy. Serve and enjoy hot.

Ready for the Long Simmer in my Crockpot

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