Braised meat is the beginner cook’s secret weapon. The process can all be boiled down to two steps, browning the meat and then braising it. Browning the meat first gives it a rich, savory flavor, and braising it (which means cooking it in liquid), guarantees fall off the bone tenderness and juiciness every time. It can hold on a stove until you’re ready to serve, and goes wonderfully with rice, pasta, or almost any carbohydrate you can imagine. For dinner tonight, I’m making beer braised short ribs. This tender, succulent meat, is the perfect homey centerpiece to a comforting cold weather meal.
INGREDIENTS (BEER BRAISED SHORT RIBS)
3 short ribs (about pound each)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced celery
1 leek, cleaned, halved and chopped
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups dark beer
a stout, doppelbock, or quadruple would work
3 cups beef stock
2 russet potatoes, cut into quarters
Preheat oven to 300 F. Season short ribs with salt, 1 teaspoon thyme and oregano, and the cracked black pepper. Use your hands to coat the meat well. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat, pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and once the pan is very hot and almost smoking, place the short ribs in the pan, and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to sear the meat in batches. Do not crowd the meat or get or rush this step; it will take at least 15 minutes. Set them laying flat in a 9×13 baking dish, potatoes around them.
Turn the heat down to medium, add the onion, carrot, celery, leeks, the rest of the thyme, and bay leaf. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in a pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the beer. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half. This should take about 5 minutes.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid over the short ribs and potatoes, scraping any vegetables that have fallen on the ribs back into the liquid. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and a tight fitting lid. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours.
To check the meat for doneness, remove the lid and foil, being careful of escaping steam, and pierce a short rib with a paring knife. When the meat is done, it will yield easily to a knife. Taste a piece if you are not sure. Once done, let the ribs rest for 10 minutes in their juices. Serve with the braised potatoes.