12.15.2006

Chocolate and rosemary short ribs


My addiction to short ribs developed about three years ago after a dinner at Amanda and Jeff's. Using an Ina Garten recipe, they made some serious, melt-in-your mouth meat. A few months later, I served the same short ribs at a dinner party and it was one of my most well-received meals ever. Next came Dave Lieberman's Braised Hoisin Beer Short Ribs which were sweet, sticky and also unbelievably tender. When I decided to make this recipe for chocolate and rosemary short ribs a a few weeks ago, I expected it to be the best one yet.

The recipe serves 6 to 8 people, so I knew I could either eat short ribs all week, or invite some friends over for dinner. Daniel suggested Judith (who is a vegetarian) and her husband, Tim. And just like that, I tacked a cauliflower puree, Ina Garten's green beans with shallots and a pumpkin pasta onto the menu.

As much as I like to plan elaborate meals, the actual execution often leaves me overwhelmed. Yet on this particular evening, I managed to make four dishes in four hours and did not drop, break, burn or spill anything in the process. When our guests arrived, I was more calm than usual, with a clean kitchen and a batch of pumpkin butter gooey cakes in the oven to boot.

The cauliflower puree turned out silky smooth, the green beans crisp and buttery, the pumpkin pasta perfect, but the short ribs, sadly, were tough, not tender! The meat was still clinging to the bone and though the sauce's flavor was deep and rich, I had a hard time even tasting any chocolate. The star of the evening, the recipe I expected to be raving about, really fell flat. In my effort to juggle a bunch of recipes at once, I ended up sacrificing the main dish.

Daniel's less dramatic explanation was much more straight-forward than that. He thought that the ribs should have been completely covered while they cooked (not partially for 1 1/2 hours and then uncovered the remainder of the time as the recipe suggested). So, the following night we put the leftovers back in the pot and cooked them, covered, for another hour. Slowly, the meat softened, the flavors deepened and my short ribs were saved.

This is not a recipe I'm rushing to make again, but if I do, I'll cook them longer with the top on, add a little extra chocolate, and serve something nice and simple on the side. Well, I'm not so sure about that last part, but I'll try.

Braised Chocolate and Rosemary Short Ribs
From Bon Appétit
1/4 cup diced pancetta (Italian bacon; about 1 1/2 ounces)
6 pounds bone-in short ribs
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dry red wine
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups chopped drained canned diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 very large fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons shaved or grated bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Heat heavy large pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and sauté until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown ribs in drippings in pot over medium-high heat until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to plate. Add onions and next 4 ingredients to pot. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add wine. Boil uncovered until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up browned bits, about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and pancetta. Return ribs to pot, cover partially, and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and simmer until rib meat is tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours longer.

Transfer ribs to plate; discard bay leaf. Spoon fat from surface of sauce. Boil sauce until beginning to thicken, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add chocolate, cocoa powder, and rosemary; stir until chocolate melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return ribs to pot. Simmer to rewarm, about 5 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lia - how funny, i was just searching forever for a short ribs recipe last week that was less than 4 hours...i still cooked mine for nearly 3 hours though and so as you learned, that's definitely the trick to the softness. I wish we lived closer so you could cook for me and adam...

Lia said...

Kellie, there's something about this time of year that just screams short ribs for me. Next time you and Adam are in NY, let me know. I'd love to cook for you!

Janelle said...

I really love the simplicity of Ina's food, too. And I just bought cauliflower this morning; I think I will try the puree! Thanks!

Lia said...

Janelle, your comment reminded me of two things I forgot to mention. The first is that Ina's short ribs are by far the best of all three. And the cauliflower puree was so good! It was so easy to make and was a much lighter side dish than mashed potatoes. Daniel, Judith and Tim all took a bunch of guesses before realizing what it was!

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