[Eran Elhalal is a food consultant, chef extraordinaire (about to become a restaurateur). He is also the resident Chef at the Israeli Wine Lovers Club where his delectable creations, cheese and fruit selections greatly enhance the tasting experience. CS]
More than once, have I listened to my friends complain about a failed attempt at braising short ribs or Lamb Shanks and worst of all, after spending hours preparing,ended up with a dry/stringy/pale/tough piece of meat and finding all that right before the guests arrive.
So, from today onwards, those tales of woe, the agony will end.
Braising is a wonderful way of utilizing the less expensive tougher cuts of meat that usually are not fit for dry cooking methods like brisket, and chuck or cuts that would require a long slow roast like leg of Lamb,lamb shanks and Beef Short ribs . Moreover a braise can be made ahead of time in large quantities , making it a great solution for a big family. In fact, a braise is great the day it’s made, but it is FANTASTIC the next couple of days.
What we sometimes call tough cuts of meat are actually tougher due to the fact that they come from high mobility muscles. To give a simple example – cows stand and graze most of the day, hence their legs, chest and neck muscles are very strong. Strong=Tough!
And now, I’ll take you step by step through the braising process…
Braised Beef Short Ribs
2 1/2 Lbs short ribs /3-4 Lbs if on the bone. Have your butcher cut the meat to 3-4 incl long pieces,1 1/2 -2 inches wide.
1-1/2 cups dry red wine Ingredients
1 cup Apple cider
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Lb small red potatoes.If you find large ones,quarter them lengthwise.
2 carrots cut oblique
1 large parsnip sliced thick
2 large onions sliced 3/4 inch thick
2 ribs celery rough chopped
2-3 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
12 black pepper corns
2 Tbsp dark molasses
¼ Tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste
flour for dredging
1. Turn oven to 450F and place a heat proof pan or low edged pot inside. (Earthenware or Pyrex are great for this)
2. Pat the meat dry, season well then dredge in flour. Heat a cast iron skillet or large heavy stew pot. Add 2 Tbsp oil and sear well on all sides. Remove and set aside.
3. In the same skillet brown the vegetables and remove.
4. Drain excess fat carefully place the vegetables in the hot Pyrex pan,add tomato paste and mix well with a wooden spoon .We want to coat the vegetables evenly and brown.
5. Deglaze with wine, then add cider, molasses herbs and spices. Leave 6-8 minutes in the oven so the liquid starts to reduce.
6. Add the meat , taste , adjust seasoning then cover tightly and place in oven.
7. Lower the heat to 275F and braise for approx 5 hours. Check to see meat is very tender. Alternatively you can set the oven to 150F-160F and braise overnight.
8. Cool well in the pan. the best way is to make an ice-water bath in a clean sink or larger pan. Then, lift away excess fat.
9. Remove meat potatoes and carrots gently,discrad of the rest . Portion the meat when cold.( This is important ! ) Reheat the cooking liquid and strain well through a fine sieve.
10. Reduce the liquid until a smooth and thick sauce consistency is achieved. Add the meat and vegetables. Simmer gently in the clear shiny sauce.
For a wine pairing I suggest a dry full bodied red wine. A big red, to cut through all the wonderful gelatin in the ribs. Try Tzora Judean Hills 2008 or Tabor Mes’ha Shiraz/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Château Pontet-Canet Paulliac 2002. A solid wine with berry, currant and mineral character. Full-bodied, with silky tannins and a long finish. Racy. On March 31 2005 the Wine Spectator awarded it 92 points, as one of the top French wines of its vintage year.
Yatir Forest 2004. This wine from grapes grown in the Judean Hills is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 6% Shiraz. It’s aged for 18 months in small French oak barrels. It has a purple color with a strong bouquet of forest fruits, red currant, blackberry and a hint of vanilla. A full bodied wine with velvety tannins. Tom Stevenson (author of the 2007 Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia), described the Yatir Forest 2004 as “the classiest Israeli wine I ever tasted.” CS.]
ALSO FROM ERAN’S KITCHEN: