Ribble me this, Batman!

Yo, it’s Dietsch again. What’s new?

I’m here to tell you that wifey and I are about two thirds through another ingredient cycle. The theme this time is beef short ribs.* Mmmmmmmmm.

Dinner:  February 10, 2009

I kicked this cycle off by braising a package from Stoney Hill Cattle, cut flanken-style across the bones. I followed John Besh’s recipe nearly to the letter. I seasoned the ribs and then browned them in oil in a large Dutch oven. I removed them once brown, added aromatic veg and a bit more salt, and returned the beef. I then added wine, stock, tomatoes, garlic, and thyme, and brought it all to a simmer. Then tossed in some dried mushrooms and simmered the hell out of the whole kaboodle.

One thing, though, irritates me about that recipe. It calls for 3 cups zinfandel. I don’t know whether this bit of idiocy is Besh’s, Francine Maroukian’s (the recipe is “as told to Francine Maroukian”), or an Esquire editor’s, but it’s dumb. Have you measured 3 cups of wine from a bottle before? Let me tell you how much 3 cups is in milliliters–exactly 690. A quarter cup is another 60 ml. So 3-1/4 cups of wine equals 750 ml, which happens to be the precise amount of wine in a standard bottle.

Why not just call for 1 750-ml. bottle, you dingbats?!

Harrumph. Obviously, I could have just knocked the extra bit back myself, but that’s beside the point.

Anyway, the recipe was pretty damn good, I think. My only complaint about the food was that the flanken-style ribs didn’t get quite as tender as English-cut might have. More cooking time would have improved this recipe.

Round two in the cycle of beouf was a ragu of shredded beef, crushed tomatoes, and some of the leftover braising liquid. Jen and I kind of took turns on this one, prepping various parts of the dish. So my memory of it is a little disjointed. I remember onions popping in at some point and also marjoram.

Dinner:  February 12, 2009

[Yep, we started this by softening a smallish red onion, chopped, in a bit of olive oil, then adding some sliced shiitakes, salt, marjoram, and tomato paste, letting the whole thing caramelize, then adding the shredded beef, some San Marzanos which you seemed to enjoy tearing with your fingers, and a cup of that yummy leftover braising liquid. We added a little of the juice from the canned tomatoes as well, and reduced most of the liquid out. I added some of the pasta water to the pan as well, then the not quite-al dente pasta so it could finish cooking in the sauce. I added a little grated pecorino at the end, too. Yum. -J.]

Our final meal will be coming up soon. The remainder of the beef will go into one freezer bag, and the bones into another for stock. As we accumulate beef and bones from other sources (leftover bits of steak, etc.), we’ll add them to the freezer. Then, some evening when Jen’s working late and I’m not, or one day when she’s sick and I’m not, or maybe just one day when I get a bug up my ass to make dinner, I’ll assemble a soup of beefy parts and stock and some barley or maybe wild rice.

*And if anyone can tell me why beef ribs are “short” and pork ribs are “spare,” first round’s on me. I honestly couldn’t remember which was which until some time last year.

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10 thoughts on “Ribble me this, Batman!

  1. >>More cooking time would have improved this recipe.

    Isn’t that always the case? So maddening.

    I find it fascinating that so many braise recipes don’t allow enough cooking time. It seems there’s this common (but false) notion that all beef takes 3 to 3-1/2 hours to braise, and that differences that might turn up during recipe testing (if it happens at all) are dismissed as anomalous. Because pretty much every recipe I’ve used in the last 2 years quotes this mythical time-span, and pretty much every time it’s 60 to 90 minutes shy of the actual point at which the meat is fully cooked. Maybe editors think the general public is spooked by recipes that call for 4 to 5 hours of cooking time?

    The little bits of meat you’re saving also make excellent hash, if you’re feeling brunchy.

  2. Gorgeous. Wish my fiance would make me some short ribs! (He doesn’t cook.)

    Not only do recipes not call for long enough braising, but they often don’t stress how much better it is to braise, then chill over night, skim fat, and reheat.

  3. I seem to recall a Cook’s Illustrated from a while back that said that the key was to get the meat to the temp where the collagen melted and then KEEP it there for 90 minutes or something like that? Wow, that’s incredibly precise, right? Anyway…

    I think orichiette is my new fave pasta. It’s so perfect for chunky sauces. Beautiful pics as usual!

  4. Shortribs are one of the best things on earth. For me, it is: Day One = ribs in red wine, Day Two, even better, the risotto :-)

    Great and delicious pic of rib cross-section.

  5. meant to quote Anita saying this between the : Maybe editors think the general public is spooked by recipes that call for 4 to 5 hours of cooking time? …but got coded out.

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