As much as summer may be trying to hang on here in the last few days of September, there have been some very cool nights here lately, making it feel much more like fall now. It is nice to have the window open in the evening to feel the cool air instead of the air conditioning. It is also a great sign that cooking more things like soups, stews and braises is right on the horizon. I have already started in on making some fall like dinners when I have had the chance to. One meal I particularly enjoy is short ribs. Unfortunately, as is the case with many of the meats that you find for sale today, short ribs tend to be very expensive, particularly if you are looking to feed several people. I had purchased some as part of a package of fresh meat I had purchased from Bishop Farms at a farmers market not that long ago so I had more than enough on hand to feed the three of us. I had been saving this recipe that I had found from Williams-Sonoma for braised short ribs with a creamy polenta and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 pounds bone in, individual-cut short ribs
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups red wine
3 cups beef stock or broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cups quick-cooking polenta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and the pepper. In batches so you can avoid overcrowding, and the short ribs to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until the short ribs are browned on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer the short ribs to a separate plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and heat it. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute. Sprinkle in the all-purpose flour and stir it well. Slowly stir in the red wine, then the beef stock. Stir in the tomato paste, rosemary and bay leaf. Return the short ribs to the pot. The short ribs should be barely covered with liquid. If not, add hot water as needed. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot, place the pot in the oven, and cook the short ribs, moving the position of the ribs every forty-five minutes or so to be sure that they are covered with liquid and are cooking evenly, until the short ribs are very tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Transfer the short ribs to a deep serving platter (do not worry if the meat separates from the bones; this should happen), and tent the platter with aluminum foil to keep the short ribs warm.
Let the cooking liquid stand for five minutes. Skim off the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid and discard the fat. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced by about one-fourth, about 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Return the short ribs to the pot.
Just before serving, make the polenta: In a heavy saucepan, bring 3 cups of water, the milk and the remaining 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to a boil over high heat. Slowly whisk in the polenta and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, whisking often, until the polenta is thick, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Divide the polenta among warmed serving bowls or plates, top the polenta with the short ribs and the sauce and serve at once.
A meal like this involving short ribs is pretty elegant and since it takes quite a lot of time to cook, it is likely something you are going to want to save to use for a Sunday dinner or another meal on the weekend. The recipe itself is fairly basic but the short ribs take on a great deal of flavor and as the fat in the short ribs starts to break down the meat becomes more tender and succulent. The gravy adds just the right touch to the short ribs and tastes great when served over the polenta. If you did not want to have polenta, you could just as easily substitute mashed potatoes or even rice if you prefer, but the polenta seems to go really well with this type of meal. This is a great one to do when you are having people over as the recipe indicated serves six. I did halve the recipe so it was better suited for just three of us and we still had some leftovers. The leftover short ribs are great to use for a whole bunch of different meals. You can easily remove the meat from the bones and shredded and use the meat for things like tacos or put it back in the sauce and just serve it over rice or pasta. I served this with some Brussels sprouts and some homemade bread to complete the meal.
That is all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!