I bought myself a birthday present.
I bought this beauty of a braiser; it’s huge, it’s heavy, and it’s orange! I had been wanting one for a really long time, and knew that I wanted it to be the second piece I would add to my life-long Le Creuset collection. When I just happened to stop into the outlet last month, and saw that it just happened to be on sale even further than the already discounted outlet prices, and that at the end of the day I just happened to be paying a significant amount less than I would if I bought it a kitchen store that perpetually smells like cookies, I bought it.
And I called it birthday.
Its name is “braiser” but it has already jumped to the top of my utilitarian cooking tools list. It’s great for frying; it’s and wide enough to make chicken cutlets 2 or 3 at a time. It’s great for risotto, as most heavy-bottomed cooking vessels are. It’s the perfect size for roasting a chicken. And of course, it’s great for braising.
For its inaugural run, I decided to braise something I’d never braised before. In fact, I decided to braise something I’d never even eaten before. (Cue the dramatic music). I chose beef short ribs.
Braising meat is a pretty simple formula: season liberally, brown on all sides, add aromatics and some vegetables, add the browned meat, cover mostly with liquid, cook it to death. Those steps will give you a comforting, hearty meal, every time.
I picked up some short ribs at the grocery store, along with some Fall vegetables: carrots, fennel, and of course, onions. To continue in the Fall braise theme, my braising liquid was Guinness beer and a little beef stock.
After ample time in the oven, the short ribs were tender and slumped, the vegetables had soaked up all the flavor of the ribs and the beer, and the sauce was a savory dream. I served them on top of creamy, whipped potatoes and reduced the sauce to thicken it a little, and called it Sunday dinner.
They aren’t the prettiest things, but they sure were delicious. The meat was tender and flavorful, and although the short ribs were really rich and decadent, I think you could create the same basic principle with any beef roast. Just follow the aforementioned formula, and do so in a big, heavy pot with a big heavy lid.
Here’s the recipe.
Guinness Braised Beef Short Ribs
- 8 short ribs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 onions, cut into wedges
- 1 bulb of fennel, sliced thick
- 4 carrots, cut into 3 inch pieces
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 ounces Guinness Draught beer
- 1 1/2 cups beef stock
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large pot or braiser, heat olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Season the short ribs liberally with salt and pepper on all sides. Add the short ribs, and working in batches, brown them on all sides. Remove to a plate and keep browning until all the short ribs are seared.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the vegetables. Let soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add bay leaves, then add the short ribs back to the pot, nestled into the vegetables evenly.
- Add the Guinness and the beef stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Put the lid on the pot and place in the oven. Let cook for 5-6 hours, turning the beef short ribs once, halfway through the cooking time.
- When done, remove the ribs to a plate and tent with foil. Skim most of the fat off the sauce and reduce by half. Remove the bay leaves. Serve the short ribs on top of creamy mashed potatoes and pour the sauce on top of everything.