Friday, August 31, 2007

Chianti Braised Beef Short Ribs

Braised Short Ribs.JPG
Chianti Braised Beef Short Ribs with Turnip Puree

I've been watching a turnip grow in our garden over the summer, wondering when it would be ready to harvest. A few weeks ago it started to overtake everything planted within its leafy expanse; I figured it was time to pluck the enormous root vegetable.

The next question was, what to do with it. Our garden also happened to be overrun with basil, and I love making basil oil, both for its wonderful taste, and for the way it looks when it is drizzled across a white plate. With that in mind, I decided to puree the turnip; braised short ribs would hold their own just fine against the edgy turnip puree. (Especially if they were braised in a flavorful red wine.)

Normally, I wouldn't recommend firing up the stove for the 2-hour braising process during the heat of summer, but in this case, you won't regret it. The braised short ribs are so wonderfully flavorful, and the turnip puree gives a unique texture and flavor that ordinary mashed potatoes just can't match.

Turnip Puree (serves 2):

1 large turnip - peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste

Cook turnip in boiling salt water until very tender (about 25 minutes). Drain and return to pot. Cook over medium heat until turnip dries slightly. Puree the turnip, butter and cream in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add more cream if needed to reach desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

The turnip puree can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving.


Chianti Braised Beef Short Ribs (Serves 2):

2 lbs beef short ribs
6 cups chianti (or other dry red wine)
4 cups beef stock (or low sodium chicken stock)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion sliced (cut in half, then slice into 1/2" pieces)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 carrot
2 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat dry and generously apply salt and pepper to short ribs. Heat a large oven-proof pot over high heat and add vegetable oil. Add short ribs when the oil shimmers, or just starts to smoke. Cook short ribs until browned, then flip and brown all other sides of the ribs. The browning will provide a nice deep rich flavor and texture to the finished product. After the ribs have been browned, remove and set aside.

Turn heat down to medium-high. Add the onion and brown sugar, and cook until the onion starts to turn a nice caramel color. Add the tomato paste and cayenne pepper, and cook until the tomato paste starts to brown. Add the wine and scrape the brown bits free from the surface of the pan.

Add the stock, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a simmer. Add the short ribs back into the pot. The cooking liquid should almost cover the short ribs. Add additional wine or stock if needed to almost cover the short ribs. Most of the liquid will evaporate while in the oven, so make sure you have enough braising liquid.

Cover the pot and place into the preheated oven. Cook until fork tender (1-1/2 to 2 hours). The longer the ribs are cooked, and at a lower temperature, the more flavorful and succulent the short ribs will turn out. Be careful when opening the pot, as it will be steamy and hot!

Take pot out of oven and set ribs aside. Strain braising liquid into a sauce pan. Discard onion, carrot, thyme and bay leaves. Simmer sauce over medium-high heat until proper consistency. Skim fat from sauce and degrease with a paper towel. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the short ribs have cooled, separate the meat from the bone and shred into chunks with a fork. Serve over warm turnip puree, and spoon sauce over top. Enjoy!

-J

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