Friday, January 6, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: Short Ribs

This recipe is best if you make it over two days. When you cook a tough cut of meat like this, the texture actually improves if you cook it, then cool it completely, then reheat it. This recipe takes advantage of that.

You can do the first day's cooking on the stove top or in a crock pot, but I like using a pressure cooker. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can use any other method you like - just cook it until it's tender.

Since pressure cookers vary in performance, use your pressure cooker manual to estimate the cooking time. If it's slightly undercooked, it's fine because it will cook longer the next day, but it needs to be tender.

The sauce is reminiscent of barbecue sauce, with a sweet-tart tomato tang.

My usual side dish for a meat like this is buttered egg noodles and my usual vegetable would be broccoli. I decided to change things up a bit with spaghetti squash and a simple steamed cauliflower with just a light sprinkle of cheddar on the vegetables.

When it comes to spaghetti squash, I was introduced to it many years ago, and my greatest mistake was trying to overpower it with other flavors. It just never worked. Served simply, with just a little butter and perhaps a sprinkling of cheese, and it's a perfect dish.

Braised Short Ribs

6 short ribs (about 4 pounds)
2 teaspoons salt (divided)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Pinch of cayenne (optional)

Put the ribs in a pressure cooker and add water to just barely cover it. Cook on low pressure until the rib meat is fork tender, but not quite falling off the bone. In my pressure cooker, it took an hour on low pressure. You'll be cooking it more the next day.

Let the meat cool, then transfer it, and all the liquid, to a storage container. Refrigerate until it is fully chilled, preferable overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and remove it from the liquid. If you like, reserve the liquid to reduce and use as a beef stock - there's plenty of flavor in it.

Cut the meat from the bone, and cut it into large chunks. Put the meat into an oven-safe pot with a lid. A Dutch oven is perfect. Combine the tomato sauce, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, allspice, an a whisper of cayenne. If you want more spice, you can add a bit more cayenne.

Cover the pot, place it in the oven, and bake for one hour. Uncover the pot and continue cooking for about another hour, until the meat is incredibly tender and the sauce has been reduced to a thick glaze. Stir a few times during the hour. Serve hot.

Simple Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
Cheese (for serving)

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe baking dish, add about 1/2 inch of water, cover it with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for about 20 minutes, until the squash yields to finger pressure.

Carefully remove the squash from the dish and scoop out the flesh. Drain excess liquid from it, then add salt and butter to taste, and stir to combine.

Serve with a bit of shredded cheese on top.

For information about Whole Foods Friday, see the tab at the top.