Whenever faced with a chilly, grey weekend like the one we just had in Pittsburgh, I like to cook something warm and hearty. These short ribs, braised low and slow with aromatic vegetables and porter ale, were just the ticket. This week’s short ribs are from Rose Ridge Farm via the Laptop Butchershop. If you’re not familiar, it’s an interesting concept. You sign up to be on an email-list, then four times a year you receive an email announcing the pick-up date, location and the participating vendor product/price lists. You send your order(s) to each vendor, and then pay whenever you pick up. Pick up is on Saturdays at the Farmers@Firehouse (next to Bar Marco). Because it only happens four times a year, I use it as an opportunity to stock my freezer with carefully-raised and delicious local meats. The vegetables for this recipe – onion, carrot, celery root, horseradish and herbs – were all purchased at Stan’s Produce Market. And the beer I chose for this recipe was Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from my favorite neighborhood bar, The Beerhive. I like porter ale in this recipe, but you can try a different dark and flavorful beer of your choice. I also took a slight shortcut and used frozen beef stock from Marty’s Market instead of making my own.
Celery root is a bit of a bizarre-looking vegetable. I like to puree it as a substitute to mashed potatoes. It has a mild celery-flavor that adds a little bit more interest that regular potatoes, but feel free to substitute mashed potatoes if you like. There is a pretty handy video on how to trim and peel a celery root here.
I adapted this recipe slightly from Molly Stevens’ recipe in All About Braising.
The recipe below serves two.
For the braise:
2 bone-in short ribs (“English” or “Franken” style so long as they’re cut thick)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 1/2 cups porter ale, or more if needed
3/4 cup low-sodium stock (beef, veal, chicken or vegetable)
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the glaze:
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish
For the celery root purée:
1 large celery root, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. If necessary, trim any large pieces of excess fat from the short ribs, but don’t remove any of the tough-looking pieces that hold the meat together.
2. If you’ve planned ahead and have the time, do this step 24 hours before you plan to cook the ribs. Sprinkle the short ribs all over with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. If you don’t have the time, just be sure to season them before you place them in the pan to brown.
3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Pat the ribs dry using a paper towel, being careful not to remove the seasoning.
4. Pour the olive oil into a Dutch oven or other heavy pot. If you’re doing a larger batch, add only as many ribs as will fit without touching, and brown them on all sides until dark brown. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Transfer the browned ribs to a platter, and continue for the rest of your batch.
5. Remove all but about a tablespoon of fat from the pot. Remove any charred black bits from the bottom of the pot, being careful not to remove the flavorful caramelized drippings. Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the onion and carrot. Season with salt and pepper, stirring a few times, until the vegetables start to brown and soften, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the beer and bring to a full boil. Boil for about 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to help deglaze. Pour in the stock, bring this to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Return the ribs to the pot, along with any juices they released. Tuck the rosemary sprig and bay leaves in between the ribs. The ribs should be partially submerged in the liquid. If necessary, add a bit more beer, stock or water.
7. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to braise. Check under the lid after the first 10 minutes to see that the liquid isn’t simmering too aggressively; if it is, lower the oven temperature 10 or 15 degrees. Gently turn the short ribs every 40 minutes or so. The short ribs will need to braise for a total of two hours. If you are doing a larger batch, you may need to extend the cooking time for an additional half hour. You will know they are done when the meat is falling off the bone.
8. While the ribs are braising, combine the maple syrup with the rosemary sprigs in a small saucepan. Heat to a gentle boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover, and set aside to infuse for 1 hour. (The glaze can be made up to a few days ahead and refrigerated.)
9. While the ribs are braising and the glaze is infusing, you can make the celery root purée. Boil the celery root and potato until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and place into a blender with the milk and butter. Blend until smooth. Place in a saucepan or bowl and keep warm until ready to serve.
10. When the ribs are tender and the meat is pulling away from the bones, use tongs or a slotted spoon to carefully transfer them to a shallow baking dish that is large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. You can try to keep the ribs on the bones and intact, but don’t worry if some bones slip out.
11. Using a large spoon, skim the excess fat off of the top of the braising liquid. Pluck out the remains of the rosemary stem and the bay leaf(s). Pour the remaining liquid, along with the vegetables, into a blender or food processor. Blend to a smooth, even consistency. Return the blended mixture to the dutch oven and reduce to a nice thick sauce. Keep this warm while you finish glazing the short ribs.
12. Heat the broiler on high. If the glaze has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature beforehand so it can be brushed onto the ribs. Stir the finely grated horseradish into the glaze. Brush this onto the short ribs. Place the ribs under the broiler and broil until they’re caramelized and sizzling – keep an eye on them, but this should take about 3-4 minutes.
13. Now, put it all together. Drop a large dollop of celery root purée into each serving bowl. Place the glazed short rib over the puree (the number per serving will depend on the size of the ribs). Spoon the braising liquid around the ribs and serve immediately. I like to garnish almost everything with fresh herbs, so I sprinkled some chopped parsley on as well.
- The short ribs can also be prepared in a slow cooker. I’ve done this on weekdays for a speedy and satisfying dinner. Follow steps 1-5. Combine everything in the slow cooker. Refer to this handy guide to adjust the cooking time, but 8 hours on a low setting or 4 hours on a high setting will work well. Skim the fat, blend and reduce the sauce as before. Follow the remaining steps to glaze and serve.
- You can also braise the short ribs up to two days ahead of time, and just finish with the glaze and broil when you’re ready to serve.