Several hours of slow cooking that fills your entire home with the most comforting aroma. This is perfect for a stormy or rainy day (better on a cold wintery day I am sure) like we’ve been having for the past few weeks… Sorry, I don’t have a recipe. This is a cook from the hip, hope it comes out okay kinda thing. But if you follow the basics, you should be able to replicate this with no problem… The jumping off point were a couple of packages of New Zealand short ribs that caught my eye at the grocery chiller. They were cut smaller than the nice beefy pieces typical in North America, but they looked good nonetheless, so I bought them.
There was a secondary reason for wanting to slow cook something… baptism by fire for the latest Burgundy Staub dutch oven that has joined the growing collection in the Marketman kitchen. I purchased it at a discount the last time I was at a Sur La Table, and the handsome piece wanted to show off a bit. After acquiring several Staub’s over the past couple of years, I can now say that I definitely prefer them over Le Creuset. They are heavier, the enamel seems thicker, and on a totally superficial note, they have the most stunning colors; rich and almost jeweled in feel. Sort of like a Jaguar or Rolls Royce against a Ford or Chrysler. And yet both Le Creuset and Staub are French… :)
But back to the stew. In a thick stainless steel saute or fry pan over medium high heat, add some olive oil and then some well seasoned pieces of short ribs to brown them well. Don’t move them around too much, let them happily caramelize and brown, that’s where the flavor is. Transfer the short ribs to the dutch oven and cook the remaining short ribs and add those to the dutch oven. Next chop up a handful each of onions, celery and carrots and add them to the stainless pan and saute until softened and aromatic. Some folks blitz this mirepoix or mixture of three veggies in a food processor instead and saute that over the fat. After a few minutes, I added 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste to cook that and brown it slightly, 3-4 cups of good red wine and let that reduce for a few minutes. Next I added two small cans of beef broth and one can of water and mixed this all to blend it together. Throw in a few sprigs of thyme and several fresh bay leaves and pour the liquid mixture all over the browned meat in the dutch oven. The liquid should come up to the top pieces of meat, but not totally submerge the meat. You want to braise, not boil the meat. Place the dutch oven over medium flames until it starts to simmer, then cover and place in a 350F oven for some 3-3.5 hours until the meat is tender. Check the contents every half hour or so and add some water if it seems to be drying out a bit too fast. You may also lower the oven temperature a bit if it seems to be on a rolling boil. Towards the last half hour of cooking, I added in some freshly cut carrots and onions and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the cover of the dutch oven for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking to brown the pieces of meat nicely. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes. Some folks like to marinate the meat overnight in wine, which I am sure is a nice touch, but I didn’t bother and cooked this straight through… total prep and cooking time was roughly 4.5 hours.
Make enough so that you have lots of leftovers. They heat up nicely the next day. Or you can shred the meat, add some tomato sauce or puree and make yourself a really easy but incredibly delicious pasta sauce. Enjoy the weekend!