Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday 1/30

Merlot Braised Short Ribs

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
5 pounds boneless beef short ribs, or 7 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil; divided use
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 small yellow onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bottle (750 milliliters) merlot
4 cups Beef Stock
12 ounces cipollini or pearl onions (12 to 16 onions)
1/4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar

1. Soak dried mushrooms in 1 cup warm water until soft, at least 5 minutes. Drain mushrooms in a sieve set over a small bowl. Set mushrooms aside. Strain soaking liquid through a paper coffee filter, then set aside soaking liquid.
2. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Dry ribs with paper towels, then liberally season them with salt and pepper.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy ovenproof pot or roasting pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pot, add the ribs and brown well on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Using tongs ora slotted spoon, transfer ribs to a platter and set aside.
5. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pot. Add carrots, celery, yellow onions, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to caramelize, 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Add bay leaf, thyme, and tomato paste to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
7. Return ribs and any accumulated juice to the pot, stacking them to fit, if necessary. Add soaked mushrooms, mushroom soaking liquid, and merlot. Add 3 to 4 cups of the stock, enough that ribs are covered. Heat ribs over medium-high heatuntil liquid begins to simmer.
8. Cover the pot tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake ribs until tender when pierced with a fork, about 3 hours. Check the pot about every 30 minutes to make sure the sauce is gently simmering but not boiling. If needed, adjust the oven temperature to maintain a slow simmer.
9. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl of water with ice cubes and set aside.
10. Bring a medium-size saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until their skins loosen, about 2 minutes. Drain onions, then plunge them into the bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel onions, cutting a small sliver off the root end and pulling the skin off. Set onions aside.
11. Remove ribs from sauce, place them on a platter, and loosely cover them with aluminum foil to keep warm.
12. Let sauce rest for a few minutes until the fat rises to the surface. Degrease the sauce by skimming off the fat with a metal spoon or ladle.
13. Pour sauce through a strainer and discard the solids, including the bay leaf. Wash the pot and return thesauce to it. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat.
14. Add vinegar and onions to sauce,then let it simmer gently until it is concentrated and the onions aretender, 20 to 30 minutes. Add ribs and let simmer until they are warmedthrough, then serve.

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