Mum bestowed me with beef after visiting Wellington a few days ago. I now have a brisket waiting to be braised (perhaps smoked if I’m feeling ambitious), a scotch fillet in the freezer – and short ribs that I prepared yesterday. Short rib is absolutely one of my favourite cuts of meat. It’s not readily available in most New Zealand supermarkets – my Mum bought these ones – neatly trimmed and cut into individual pieces, no less – from a European butcher in Lower Hutt. Cooking these short ribs has made me realise how much more experience I have to gain in preparing braised meat dishes. It is not something I do particularly regularly, and I’m excited that the prospect of autumn and winter will provide me with plenty of opportunity to familiarise myself with reaching the perfect fall-off-the-bone result.
The twice cooked part of this recipe is entirely optional – personally I love the taste of grilled beef fat, and so it really added to the dish. In the interests of saving time, you could just as easily throw everything in the slow cooker, though the result would be flavoursome, I’m not sure it would be as rich and satisfying. We served these alongside polenta chips – something of an experiment inspired by our visit to Venetian restaurant Ombra on Thursday. Not quite perfect yet – hence no recipe, but these ribs would also be great alongside potatoes in practically any form – roasted or mashed springs to mind.
- Twelve beef short ribs ~ 1.5kg
- Plenty of salt and pepper
- 2 rashers streaky bacon
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium brown onions, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced (I used a whole lot of baby carrots, actually)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef stock (preferably fresh)
- 1 pack Aromatics wine-barrel smoked mushrooms (or use 1 cup sliced button mushrooms)
- 2 tsp sugar or sweetener equivalent
- 2 bay leaves
- Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and brown them on the barbecue to achieve the Maillard reaction. Set aside inside a slow cooker casserole dish while preparing the sauce.
- In a large saucepan, fry off the bacon in the olive oil until brown and crispy. Add the onions, carrot and garlic and saute over medium heat until softened – around 5-7 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the red wine, then add the beef stock, mushrooms, sugar and bay leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow it to reduce slightly.
- Pour over the browned ribs. Set the slow cooker on low and braise for 6-8 hours, until the meat is practically falling off the bone.
- Turn the slow cooker off the heat and using a slotted spoon, remove the short ribs from the sauce. Skim some of the fat off the top of the sauce and discard.
- When you’re ready to serve, reheat the sauce in a small saucepan, bringing to the boil to allow it to reduce and thicken. Season according to taste with salt and pepper.
- With the barbecue or grill pan on high heat, grill the short rib pieces on all sides to reheat and render the remaining fat.
- Serve on top of greens with soft polenta, mashed potato or roast vegetables.
Serves 3 people.