Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Ribbed for your pleasure

Since the blogosphere, as the lovely and gracious Karen (in honor of whose bizarro sensibilities I offer the title above) has aptly decreed, is now on a foodie kick; and since we managed to get to the market; and since this has been a relatively cool (for us, anyway) autumn, I decided to make one of the very first Real Grown Up edibles I ever made* only I'd try some flavor variations.

So, I bring you

Chipotle Braised Short Ribs of Beef with Tropical Gremolata

(Serves two, but it doubles or triples very nicely if you have the hardware and/or patience for this sort of thing. Well worth it.)

Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Peanut oil (or whatever you are not allergic to)
1 lime
4 cups beef stock
7-8 short ribs, bone in, about 1¾ lbs (cut into individual ribs, not across)
1 small yellow onion (sweet onions are fine, but avoid the "supersweets")
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaf)
2 chipotle chiles (the kind packed in "adobo" which you'll also need)

Preheat oven to 300F/150C.

Dice the onion, smash three cloves garlic to a paste, and also mince two chipotle peppers and leave them on standby.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven (or stockpot of equivalent size) over medium-high heat. Pat the ribs dry then season both sides of ribs with salt and pepper. When the oil shimmers (but is NOT smoking!) add half the ribs and brown on all sides until you get a good sear. Repeat this with the other half of the ribs. (You don't want to cover more than 1/2 of the pot's bottom. So, if you end up doing this in 3 batches or only in one, don't panic.)

Once the ribs have seared, add the onions and saute about 1 minute to caramelize lightly. Add garlic and cook until JUST fragrant. Stir in the chipotles, and 4 tbsp of adobo. Add the stock to just cover ribs (figure 4 cups, but use the least amount you can get away with). Make sure to stir along the bottom of the pot to bring up and dissolve the caramelized bits. This is key. Bring to a gentle simmer, then put in the oven for about 3 hours. Check back frequently to make sure the liquid does not boil. You want some moderate bubbling along the edges of the liquid, but no more. Any hotter and your ribs will become too tough. A Crock-PotTMslow cooker would be ideal.

Mince the remaining clove of garlic as finely as your patience will allow. Grate the zest off the lime. Toss these with the cilantro. That's your gremolata. (The traditional Italian gremolata is garlic/lemon zest/parsley) I just came up with this variation after the whole arugula/rocket thing.

When the ribs are done, c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y take them out (tongs are ideal) and set aside on a warmed platter. Grab a ladle and skim the prodigious amount of fat floating (most of the fat in this dish will render into the liquid) atop the now-sauce. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Puree the remaining braising liquid with (ideally) an immersion blender** and dump into a small pot. Put this saucepan over medium heat and reduce to about the consistency of heavy ("double") cream. Adjust salt and pepper and add a spritz of lime juice. Take your ribs and ladle with sauce. Top the ribs with your gremolata and serve. (Or, do what I used to do, just sprinkle cilantro leaves.)

I suggest serving atop/along some rice with scallions and/or almonds. Polenta (cheeseless) or plain tamales wouldn't be bad, either. Pretty much anything in the corn family would be good, when you think about it.

So there,


* Astute readers will recall this was the first unqualified praise I'd ever gotten from my dad.
** Or CAREFULLY, in small batches, in a blender. If you do it in large batches you'll end up wearing a lot of it and scrubbing your walls of the rest.