HOMEY COMFORTS

There are certain times in the year when you really need a big bowl of warm-ness. For me, once we hit mid-February, the weather starts to drag and the potential coming of spring seems like a big tease. The days are (slooowly) getting longer…the sun begins to have warmth…However in the end, the cold weather still comes and the snow is as bright as ever.

When it gets like this, a slow-braised and homey meal is verrry comforting :) And we come to the meal in question! Beef short-ribs! Not something we have very often but when we do, they go straight into a cast iron Dutch oven and then into the oven for a good 4 hours to create a melty, fabulously tender, meaty mess of a meal! I don’t actually use a recipe for this, so I’ll give you all the ingredients and (very approximate) amounts.

BRAISED SHORT RIBS

2-ish lbs. bone-in beef short ribs (I specify bone-in because it keeps the meat moister longer – you won’t run the risk of the meat drying out while it braises.  This is one part of the moistness equation!)
a good 4-5 tbsp. olive oil
3 carrots, cut into pieces
2 stalks of celery
1 onion, cut into chunks
6 cloves garlic, finely minced

~1 1/2 cups red wine
1 28-0z can diced tomatoes
~2 cups chicken broth

salt
freshly ground pepper
~1 tbsp. oregano
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh parsley

So the general idea is the following:

1. Sear the meat.  First salt and pepper those suckers.

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The basic idea is to build flavour and you have to start at the beginning: With the meat.  Heat the pot and about 2-3 tbsp olive oil at medium high heat.  Generously salt and pepper those babies and get a nice colour on them – about 3-4 minutes per side of meat and I mean all the sides, even the ends.  One larger side is usually the bone, so you don’t have to worry about this.  Also, if you have a lot of meat, do it in batches – a couple of pieces at a time.  You don’t want to crowd the meat, otherwise you’ll have uneven colour on the meat.  When you’re done searing place chunks on a plate and set aside.

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2.  Do the veggies.  The next step is to add about another 1-2 tbsp olive oil to the pot.  Throw the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic into the pot.  Let them cook a bit – you want the onion to just be turning golden brown; this should take about 5 or 6 minutes.

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3.  Add the liquids.  Now comes the second part of the moistness equation that I mentioned earlier!  Start with the wine.  Let it deglaze the pan by getting all the brown bits stuck on the bottom of the pot and stir for about a minute.  Add the broth and the tomatoes – juice and all.  A considerable amount of liquid for a recipe like this is also important to make sure the meat doesn’t dry out.

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At this point, preheat the oven to 375F and bring the contents and goodness of the pot to a boil.  This could take a bit, so put the lid of the pot on to help it along.  Now is the time to also add your herbs and spices.  Throw some more salt and pepper down and some oregano.  Once the pot is boiling, chuck the meat back in and throw the whole shebang into the oven.  Before you throw it in, a couple of things to consider: make sure your liquid level is good.  I make sure that once everything is in there, the level is just below the lip of the pot.  It’ll maintain a good simmer in the oven.  Also, you don’t want to do this too often because a build-up of heat is also important for the cooking process, BUT maybe once throughout cooking check the pot and make sure there is still liquid in the pot (in the unlikelihood that there is none, you can simply add water, or some chicken broth if you have some left over).  You don’t want to open the pot when you’re ready to eat and find that it’s dried up and the anticipation you’ve built over the last 4 hours turns to instant disappointment.

Yes, you read it right – leave to simmer and braise in the oven for no less than 2 1/2 hours, optimal time is about 4 hours!  You won’t regret it!

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Alright, serve it with rice/potatoes/noodles, or all three if you want ;) I prefer rice pilaf or something like that!  Adds a little sumthin sumthin extra!  I also like to have bread with a meal like this – yet another vessel to soak up all that good juiciness!

After the satisfaction of a wonderful meal like this, it must be completed with dessert!  In our house, brownies are a favourite when there’s no real occasion, but you crave a little something sweet after dinner.  These ones are super easy to whip together and bake up nice and moist in the oven.

BROWNIES

2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.  Prepare an 8-in. square pan and preheat the oven to 350F.

Cream butter and sugars together in a bowl until well combined and smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla to the mixture.  Add the dry ingredients and mix slightly with an electric mixer.  Finish stirring the batter with a spatula to prevent over mixing.

Dump that in the prepared pan and smooth top over.  Throw it in the oven and bake about 18-22 minutes, depending on your oven.  You want a cake tester/toothpick to come out with a few tiny crumbs still attached.

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I hope you enjoy the combo I’ve put together here as much as I do ;)

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!  Happy eats!
~e.

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