The new year means eating healthy, right? Well, once you get over that silly little notion you can go ahead and make these short ribs. Because these bad boys are so rich and decadent I can't imagine putting them in the health food category. That would be like putting Baby in a corner. And nobody puts Baby in a corner. (Look at me! I came up with a pop culture reference! It doesn't happen very often, so soak it in my friends.)
Unfortunately, these little ribs of happiness are not the brain child of yours truly. They are from my all time favorite blogger turned cookbook author Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. I freaking love her. Every recipe I have ever made of hers has turned out perfect. She turned a first time pie maker into a baker extraordinaire. Or at least the one pie I made led people to believe that I'm a baker extraordinaire, and who am I to tell them otherwise?
So when I got her cookbook for Christmas, first thing I did was read it cover to cover. Literally. Like it was a novel, not a book of recipes. It's that good. It's basically my favorite present. (But if Adam asks, those gold earrings I bugged him about relentlessly are my favorite present.)
I gravitated towards this short rib recipe right off the bat, because, well, it sounded delicious.
But let's be honest, every recipe in this cookbook sounds delicious. But the story that came along with this particular recipe hit home for me. Deb tells how when making short ribs for the first time she freaked out because the meat was falling off the bone, until her mother in law told her that meat falling off the bone is a good thing. For me, cooking is a constant learning experience. Especially since it wasn't long ago that I thought making a quesadilla fancied up with some onions and tomatoes was the height of cooking. Everyday I get in the kitchen I learn something new, and some of it is as terribly obvious as meat falling off the bone being a good thing.
It was well worth it. The sauce on these short ribs was somewhere between divine and is this sh*t for real?! I wanted to drink it straight. But I'm told that that is generally socially unacceptable, so I didn't. Until I was in the kitchen by myself.
But before drinking the sauce, or eating it with your ribs if that is the route you choose to go, I do recommend taking the time to do the extra step of separating the fat out. I let my pot cool then popped it in the freezer for a bit until the fat hardened on top and I could easily spoon it off. But if you are pressed for time a fat separator would easily do the trick.
Serve short ribs with parsnip purée and plenty of gravy and be prepared to fall in love. For the parsnip purée I used Deb's general recipe but made it my own. I love to sub in greek yogurt for heavy cream or sour cream. I like the creamy-ness it imparts for a fraction of the calories. It also has a nice tang that pairs well with starchy foods. I also ditched the horseradish (not a fan) that she calls for in her recipe in favor of cayenne pepper. Creamy, sweet, and spicy these parsnips are a great pairing with the ribs. Adam actually thought they were mashed potatoes, so I'm counting that as a win.
Beer Braised Short Ribs with Parsnip Purée
short rib recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
parsnip purée adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Serves 4 to 6*
Beer Braised Short Ribs
3 to 5 pounds beef bone in short ribs (English Style -i.e., separated), trimmed of excess fat
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (no need to use your best)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
24 ounces dark beer (preferably a dark coffee stout or porter)
2 to 3 cups beef stock
Bring short ribs to room temperature. Season generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat a large dutch oven over high heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom.
Once the oil is hot, brown the short ribs on all sides. In batches if needed. Take your time and get a nice brown sear on each side. 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place browned ribs aside on a plate. If doing ribs in batches, add more oil as needed.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Once all ribs are browned and removed from pot turn heat down to medium high. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and fat left in the pot. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened and a little brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and sauté for 3 more minutes.
Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for another few minutes. Then add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and beer, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom. Return browned ribs to the pot. If you can, arrange them all with their meatiest sides facedown. If you have too many ribs stand them up on their sides with the bones vertical. Add enough beef stock to cover the ribs. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Cover the pot tightly with foil (to keep the liquid in) then with a lid.
Bake for 3 hours or until the meat is tender and can easily be pierced with a knife and is starting to become flaky. Remove pot from oven.
Here I variated from Deb's instructions. She recommends skimming as much fat off the top as you can and either serving the ribs as is or removing ribs from sauce and spreading them out on a baking sheet and browning them in a preheated 420 degree oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile strain the sauce and reduce in a saucepan for 15 minutes.
What I did was, let my pot cool and then placed it in the freezer for an hour or 2**. The fat hardened on top and I spooned it off. Then I removed the ribs from the pot and set them aside. I strained the sauce into a large saucepan and simmered for 15 minutes. My sauce never really reduced much, but that didn't end up being a problem. I then added back the ribs and cooked for another 5 to 10 minutes to warm them back up.
Serve ribs on a bed of parsnip purée with plenty of gravy to accompany them.
I "healthied" up my parsnip purée by replacing the heavy cream with greek yogurt and milk. The result: a heavenly creamy mix that doesn't bring the word "healthy" to mind.
2 pounds of parsnips
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons of greek yogurt
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper to taste
Peel parsnips and cut into medium sized chunks. Place parsnip chunks in a large pot and cover with cold water. Place over moderately high heat, cover pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until parsnips are fork tender.
Drain cooked parsnips. In a food processor combine parsnips, butter, greek yogurt, and seasonings. Pureé, adding in milk as needed until desired consistency is reached. Serve with short ribs.
*I made 3 pounds of short ribs and it made 3 big servings for us, which would easily be 4 servings if Adam and I didn't eat like bears. So 5 pounds of meat should be enough for 6 servings.
**If you don't have time to place the pot in the freezer and wait for the fat to harden, you can remove the ribs from the sauce and strain the liquid into a fat separator then pour the juice minus the fat straight into your saucepan and reduce.
Love, Luck, and Happiness!