Spring — or at least, we’re supposed to be in spring now, right? — is usually a time for seafood in South Louisiana, but these final cold snaps still give occasion for some good, hearty, comforting meals.
This last recent arctic plunge over Lundi/Mardi Gras gave me an occasion to cook for some friends. We did our hardcore parading over the weekend. Or as hardcore as one can get with a four-year-old.
I’ve played with braising beef spare ribs before, usually with a beer-based gravy, but I decided to go with a more classic rendition, and sorted through a couple of different recipes and took bits and pieces to come up with this one.
6 bone-in beef short-ribs
1.5 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 can tomato paste
2-3 cups dry red wine
1 quart beef broth
1⁄4 cup worcestshire
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1⁄2 tsp paprika
1⁄2 tsp oregano
You want the bigger hunk spare ribs for this — much more meat, takes longer to break down. The smaller cross-cut ones fall apart and you get really small bones that are tough to pick through out of the dish. I also recommend working with baby carrots. Beats pealing and dicing complete ones.
1. Preheat your oven to 350. The most important step in this process is getting a good sear and crust on the meat. Season them well with salt and pepper first. You’ll want to put the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed dutch oven over medium-high heat. Put in your spare ribs. Do not crowd; you want plenty of space in between them, so work in batches if you have to. Rotate them on all sides, including the top and bottom. You want a nice brown crust for some flavor.
2. Once the meat is browned, you can pour off some oil if you want, just make sure there’s enough to saute the seasonings. And make sure you whisk loose any brown bits from the meat that stick to the bottom of the pan.
3. Add your onions and celery and saute until they start to soften. Then the carrots and bell pepper, and about half of the seasoning and whisk well.
4. Once the onions are fully translucent, add the tomato paste and mix well.
5. Allow the mixture to saute for a couple of minutes until the tomato paste starts to brown a bit and stick to the pan, then deglaze the pan with your wine, stirring well to loosen anything stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
6. Stir in your remaining seasonings and add the worcestshire, then add the beef broth — you want to make sure you have just enough water to get to the top of the meat but not cover completely. Cover the pan, then move to the oven for three to four hours. You want to check and make sure the meat is tender and nearly falling off, but not all the way off of the bone.
Serve over your starch of choice — mashed potatoes are the classic, but in my opinion rice works as well. Apologies for not getting a good shot of the finished product, but if this comes out right the meat will fall right off the bone with a fork, with no real need for a knife.