I was very excited to try this recipe: Beet-Braised Short Ribs. But, beets are a winter vegetable, and derned near impossible to find in the fresh, natural state in the summer. I was left with two options: go without or go canned. Neither was an exciting choice.
In the end, I opted for canned, and I'll be frank with how that turned out. But, first - meat.
These are short ribs, English-cut. Rib bones surrounded by fatty, meaty goodness. Very, very tough eats, though. They are located on the part of the cow that gets a bit of exercise, what with walking to pasture, standing in pasture, walking to another pasture, etc. The muscle is quite lean, which makes for a tough chew if its subjected to direct heat cooking methods (grill, roast, etc.)
That's why short ribs are perfect for braising. A low, slow warm bath in a flavorful liquid just brings out the awesomeness...but first, a brown, crusty, caramelized sear on the pieces sets up the liquid with the right amount of umami, meaty flavor.
While the ribs rested off to the side, I prepared my braise. Diced onions, garlic, some seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, followed by red wine (a Beringer Pinot). When the liquid had reduced a little, in went my canned beets and diced tomatoes.
For future reference, I would leave out the tomatoes. I like the flavor, but if we're talking about a BEET-BRAISED short rib...it seems beets should be the lone wolf working here. Just my two cents' worth.
You'll see what I'm talking about in the picture below. The tomatoes, while yummy and amazing, take over the whole dish. And when I dished this up? The beets had lost their color...they'd become grayish pieces of vegetable. I mean, bummer!!! This is probably an example of where fresh is definitely best. Next time. Fresh beets, no canned tomatoes.
I let this dish go for about 3 hours and 20-some minutes. The meat barely just hung onto the rib bone, which is exactly what you want in a dish like this. No knives needed. The fat had even broken down enough that it practically melted in my mouth...although my husband and kids were a little leery of that gastronomic delight.
The F&W recipe also includes directions for parsnip potatoes (which I didn't do, and you'll see why in a mo') and a horseradish cream...also not done by me because beets and tomatoes? Horseradish doesn't quite fit into the flavor profile for me. I love the stuff, though, and if it were straight-up red wine-braised short ribs, yes - horseradish all day long.
In lieu of the pureéd parsnip "potatoes", I went with the Hasselback.
You watched the video in the previous post, right? Instead of chopsticks, I used an old plastic serving spoon that had the "dip" in it. Then, I drizzled a little bacon fat (because I've been saving it for beautiful opportunities like this) over the taters, sprinkled a little s & p, and popped them into a 350 degree oven. Fifteen minutes later, they were still hard, so I upped the temp to 400. Much better. Another ten minutes later, I did an olive oil drizzle. About ten minutes after that, I pulled them. Frankly, I could have let them go another several minutes because I like crispy potatoes, but it was time to eat.
Potatoes the Hasselback way was the kids' favorite. Hands down. Ribs down. I learn something every day.