Coffee and Stout Braised Short Ribs with Polenta

Coffee and Stout Braised Short Ribs with Polenta is a dish that I developed with input from a number of different recipes and articles about braising short ribs and other cuts of beef. Short ribs, like oxtails, are a beef “scrap” meat that require and benefit greatly from the long braising process.

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Coffee and Stout Braised Short Ribs with Polenta
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Serves 4

6 – 8 (8-ounce) bone-in beef short ribs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 celery ribs, each quartered
3 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
1 large yellow onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 (12-ounce) bottles Guinness Stout
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 cup water
1 cup coffee
Creamy Polenta (see recipe below)

Pat the short ribs dry and season them with salt and pepper.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons oil. When the oil shimmers begin browning the ribs in batches taking care not to crowd them in the pot. Brown the ribs for about 2 minutes per side to achieve a good caramelization. Remove the ribs and set them aside.

Preheat oven to 300F.

Reduce heat to medium. Add celery, carrots, and onion to the pot with another tablespoon of oil. Soften the vegetables stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, beer, beef broth, a couple pinches of salt, and pepper to the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to break browned bits free. Bring the mixture to a boil; then reduce to a simmer. Return the ribs to the pot; cover and transfer to middle rack of oven. Braise until meat is very tender, about 4 – 5 hours, add water about halfway through. When the ribs are done, remove them from the braising liquid, cover them and set them aside.

Strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh colander into a large bowl, pressing solids to extract the liquid. Discard solids. Refrigerate the liquid for about 1 hour to allow the fat to rise to the top. Skim the fat from the liquid.

Transfer the braising liquid to back to the Dutch oven. Add coffee and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the liquid until it has a syrupy consistency, which could take as much as an hour. Add the ribs back to the pot and coat them with the reduced braising liquid.

Serve the ribs over Creamy Polenta with additional reduction.

Creamy Polenta

Makes 3 cup

3 cups milk, water or a combination
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Put the liquid and butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil, add cornmeal, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Cook until creamy and thick. Season generously with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add Parmesan. Stir until completely melted. Serve warm.

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Slow-Braised Beef and Acorn Squash Stew

Ample Bites saw this recipe in a newspaper insert and just had to give it a try. The recipe originated from Chef Will LeRoux of the Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge in Cannon Beach, Oregon. This hearty dish transforms stew meat into a silky stew that is perfect with a loaf of warm crusty bread and a bottle of cabernet.

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Slow-Braised Beef and Acorn Squash Stew
(Adapted from recipe by Chef Will LeRoux, Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge, 2013)

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds beef stew meat
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
4 strips bacon, cooked and diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1/4 tsp dried thyme
3 cups red wine
3 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 cup diced carrots
2 cups chopped potatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cups chopped acorn squash

Pat meat dry with a paper towel. Place the meat in a bowl and sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Add meat and brown in batches over medium-high heat. Remove browned beef to a plate. Add bacon, onions, garlic and thyme to the pot and cook over medium heat until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pot with wine, scrapping up all of the browned bits. Add broth and return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot. Simmer until the meat is tender and the sauce thickens about 30 minutes. Add carrots, potato, celery and squash; cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Ladle the stew into bowls and serve with warm crusty bread.

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