Friday, October 7, 2011

Whole Foods Friday: Short Ribs

As the weather gets colder, soups and stews and hearty meals start sounding much more appealing. Comfort food warms you while you're eating it, and a pot simmering on the stove for a long time warms the kitchen as well.

The great thing about this recipe is that you get two meals out of it. Or two courses, if you prefer. The pre-cooking of the short ribs produces a dark, rich stock that makes an amazing soup. The soup and the short rib entree are related, but the flavors of the finished dishes are very different. So you can serve this as two separate courses without it seeming redundant.

For the soup bones, you have a lot of choices - as the butcher what he has available, and what he suggests. In this case, he pointed me towards the freezer case and I picked up a package of six small(ish) bones.

If you prefer, you can omit the beef from the soup and use it all for the entree. The soup is rich enough, even without the meat.

Sherry is the secret ingredient in the short ribs - a little bit adds a lot of flavor. You want to choose a sherry that's not too sweet - not a dessert version. Dry or semi-dry is what you're looking for. I used an Oloroso from Spain, which added a bit of sweetness, but not too much.

Mmlocal is a local company (hehe) that cans produce from local farms. It's an interesting business. And when local fresh produce is out of season, it's nice to be able to buy canned vegetables that grew locally. The tomatoes I bought came from Grant Family Farms. Yep - there's a sticker on the jar that told me where my tomatoes were grown. I like that.

This recipe is really a two-day affair. The stock is made on the first day, and the soup and the short rib entree are made the second day. This allows the meat to cool off and rest - and meat like this is always better the next day. You could do the cooking in a crock pot, if you prefer. But when the wind gets chilly, I like the idea of something rich bubbling away on the stove.

Short Ribs, Soup, and More

For the stock:
3 beef short ribs (about 2 1/4 pounds)
1 package soup bones
1/2 large onion (or 1 small)
3 carrots
2 ribs celery

For the soup:
Prepared beef stock (2-3 quarts)
1/2 cup barley
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 leek, white and light green parts only, quartered, sliced, and rinsed well to remove any grit.
1 jar Mmlocal tomatoes with rosemary
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 one of the cooked short ribs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

For the sherried short ribs:
2 of the cooked short ribs
Stock from the storage container
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup sherry
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the celery root puree:
1 celery root
1 white or yukon gold potato
Salt, for cooking
2 tablespoons butter

For the haricot vert:
Haricot vert
Salt, for cooking

To make the stock:
Cut the onion into 4 pieces and cut the carrots and celery into chunks. Place the short ribs, soup bones, and the vegetables in an oven-safe roasting pan. Roast at 350 degrees until the meat is nicely browned and the vegetables are taking on some color – about an hour.

Transfer all the ingredients to a Dutch oven, stock pot, or other heavy-bottomed pot. Add whatever juices are in the pan, and scrape up any browned bits as well. You can add some water to the pan to help loosed those flavorful bits. Add water to cover all the ingredients by several inches. Bring to a boil, then lower to a gentle simmer and cook until the meat is fork-tender, but not falling apart – up to 6 or 8 hours.

Keep an eye on it and add water, as needed to keep the level just about the meat and vegetables.

Remove the meat from the pot, remove the bones from the meat, and place the meat in a small storage container - just big enough to hold the meat. Add enough of the stock to cover the meat, and refrigerate. Place the bones back into the pot with the vegetables and continue simmering for as long as you have time. I gave mine a couple more hours at a low simmer. Again, keep an eye on it to make sure you don't simmer out all the water - you've spent this much time on it - you don't want it to burn.

Strain the bones and vegetables out of the stock and discard them (or compost, or feed to appropriate pets or livestock). Transfer the stock to a storage container, and refrigerate. In theory, you can continue working with it while it’s hot, but chilling it makes it easier to remove the fat.

To make the soup:
Remove the stock from the refrigerator and remove the fat that has solidified on the top. You don't have to be meticulous about it. A little bit of fat remaining in the soup is fine.

Put the stock into your heavy-bottomed pot that you used to make the stock. Sort and rinse the barley and add it to the pot. Add the salt and pepper. Add the carrots, celery, and leek and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cook until the barley is soft, but still has a little bite to it, about 40 minutes. If at any point the soup starts looking more like a stew, add water as needed. The barley will absorb quite a bit of liquid, and at the same time, there is more evaporating from the pot. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and cayenne (if desired) and continue cooking until the barley and the vegetables are fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper, if needed, and add more cayenne if you like more heat.

Cut the short rib into bite size cubes and add it to the soup. Cook just long enough to warm the meat through - just a minute or two for small pieces. Serve.

To make the sherried short ribs:
Slice the short ribs against the grain into thin pieces. Put the stock that was remaining in the storage container into a saute pan. Add the ribs and mushrooms. You shouldn't have a lot of liquid - maybe half-cup or so. If there's a lot, you can add the extra to the soup.

Add a pinch of salt and a few generous grinds of pepper and simmer until the liquid is mostly gone. Add the sherry and continue cooking until it has reduced by half. Add the tomato paste, stir to coat the meat and mushrooms, and continue cooking to thicken the sauce as you like.

Serve warm.

To make the celery root puree:
Peel and cube the potato and celery root. Make sure the celery root is as small, or smaller than, the pieces of potato.

Add the pieces to a pot of cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Cook on medium-high heat until the potatoes and celery root are fork tender.

Mash them - or better yet, use a stick blender to puree them. Add the butter, taste for seasoning, and add salt, if desired.

If you prefer a smoother puree, pass them through a fine sieve after mashing.

For the haricot vert:
Cook the beans in salted water - or if you prefer, steam them - until your desired doneness. Toss with a bit of butter before serving.


Shane said...

I so love mushrooms that even if it is not part of the recipe I still add it and this looks like delicious and this is something that we should try to make.

HanaĆ¢ said...

Both dishes look wonderful and say "comfort food" to me. I also happen to love barley in soups!

Tupper Cooks! said...

Sweet. I love soup and stew, and this sounds comforting.

Sherri M said...

This looks wonderful. I can't wait til the weather here is cold enough for me to start cooking all day on the weekends. We're still in the mid-70's, so I have a couple of more weeks. As I love mushrooms, I agree with Shane and think the addition would be great.

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