Since starting this blog, I have collected hundreds of recipes that inspire me, and some are more detailed then the others. The recipes I collect generally fall into two categories: pasta, and everything else. It has been established I love pasta. I am sure you know that. That being said, I like to try to share the love with the non starchy foods out there because I think versatility is an important quality in an (amateur) cook.
I have never really cooked any form of beef (successfully) before. I am okay with ground beef (for tacos!), but beyond that, my experience is limited. I think one reason that I don’t enjoy cooking red meat is that I just don’t really enjoy eating it that much; big, juicy steaks don’t really appeal to me in the same way that a comforting bowl of mac and cheese does. But I digress.
With all my dislike for red meat, short ribs are something that I can definitely get on board with. When meat is so tender that it falls off the bone and melts in your mouth, I’ll let the whole avoidance of red meat thing slide, and I am so glad I did. These short ribs were amazing. I made them on Valentines Day (because I needed an excuse for the inordinate amount of time they took me, and they were a little bit of a culinary splurge) and I wish I could make them once a week. Served over the polenta, these were incredible. The two dishes alone are great, but put together you can’t imagine one without the other. Dramatic, yes. But if you try these I promise you will feel the same way. I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t say I did; my inspiration came from here, here (check out the picture, it is AMAZING), and here.
Short Rib Ragu Over Creamy Parmesan Polenta
For The Short Ribs
- 3 pounds bone in short ribs
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3/4 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (side note: if you haven’t used these in your cooking yet, try them immediately. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of umami, the taste of these encompasses this idea perfectly)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes with juice
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 1/2 quarts beef stock
- 2 dashes A-1 sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
For the polenta
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
The short ribs are going to take a while. About four hours. This was unbeknownst to me and we ended up eating dinner at close to 10 pm. Durrrrr. Take this into account.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl of warm water, rehydrate your mushrooms for about 10 minutes.
Next brown the ribs. Pour your olive oil in a large, oven safe pot over heat. Season the ribs with salt and pepper to your liking. Put your short ribs in. The pot should sizzle when you put the short ribs down; this means the olive oil is hot enough to brown. Brown each side of the short ribs.
When all sides are brown, transfer the ribs to a plate. Pour off all but about a tablespoon of fat and oil left in the pot, and return it to heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until they are soft. Add the garlic and cook for about one more minute.
While the veggies sweat, take the capers and tomato paste in a bowl, and mix them together. Transfer them to the pot and coat the veggies with the mixture.
Add all the liquids; thats right, everything. The stock, the tomatoes in juice, the mustard, the A-1 and the wine, along with the mushrooms and their water (leave out the last part of the mushroom water; it will be filled with gritty sediment).
Stir the mixture well, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan and incorporating them into the sauce. Add the herbs and the short ribs, covering the ribs completely with the liquid (add more stock if necessary). Bring the mixture to a boil.
When the sauce is boiling, cover it with a tight fitting lid (this is important! The ragu won’t braise properly if the lid isn’t tight enough) and transfer it to the oven. Cook for three hours (I KNOW. Forever.) or until the meat is falling off the bone.
When the ribs are ready, remove the pot from the oven. Take the meat out of the pot and transfer to a cutting board. Remove the fat from the ribs and shred them slightly.
Let the sauce mixture cool. When it has cooled down enough, transfer it to a food processor and pulse lightly until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. I didn’t want a smooth sauce, so I pulsed it only a few times, leaving the ragu with some yummy bits of mushrooms and vegetables. Return the ragu to the pot and bring back to heat. Simmer the mixture while you begin your polenta (NOTE: when the polenta is about 3 minutes from being done, add the short ribs back to the pot of ragu in order to heat).
For the polenta, bring the milk, chicken broth, salt and pepper to a boil in a saucepan.
When the liquid is boiling, slowly whisk in the corn meal in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook the mixture for about 18 minutes, or until smooth. Whisk constantly.
When the polenta is ready, stir in the cream and cheese, and heat for about a minute until incorporated.
FINALLY, you are ready to serve. Put the polenta on a plate, and top with the short ribs and ragu.
This was delicious. Really, really good. BUT, it was extremely rich. In order to offset the heavy flavors of the ragu, you could easily make a gremolata. I lacked all the ingredients for a proper gremolata, but I did drizzle a little olive oil/lemon juice/minced garlic over the ragu, and it did an excellent job of brightening it up. Really a personal preference though, both ways were (if I haven’t said already) delicious.