Sunday afternoons are a perfect time for making a slow cooked dinner. You can put it on, let it go while you watch football, and return to a comforting meal hours later. I had two packages of short ribs in the freezer from Sun Prairie Natural Beef, and I was inspired by the cookbook I had just finished reviewing (check out the reviews on the left hand side of the blog), so I decided to braise them.Season about 8 short ribs with just a touch of crushed fennel seeds, salt and pepper, then heat up a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Cook them over medium high heat until they are browned on all sides, like this. Remove the short ribs and set them aside, and add one diced carrot, one dice onion, and a sliced (and cleaned) leek to the pot – cook for a couple of minutes, then add 3 slices of diced bacon.
When the vegetables and the bacon are well caramelized , add a heaping soup spoon of flour to the pot. Stir it in and cook for a couple of minutes to remove the raw flour taste.
Add one full bottle of red wine and stir to pick up all the brown bits from the bottom. Return the short ribs to the pot and add enough stock or water to cover the ribs. Add a couple sprigs of thyme, some parsley, and some chopped up celery leaves (or a diced stalk of celery) along with two bay leaves and about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring it to a boil (I know it looks gross at this point) and let it simmer about 10 minutes. Add a small can of tomato sauce and cover the pot.
Carefully transfer the hot pot to the oven (set at 300 degrees F) and then go enjoy your afternoon.
Check the short ribs about 3 hours later to see if they are tender. You can tell they are ready when the bones just pull away from the meat and any connective tissue has softened. See how rich the sauce is now after cooking all day?
Remove the short ribs from the sauce and set them on a platter to cool so you can handle them. Carefully strain the solids from the sauce, using a wooden spoon to push all the sauce through the strainer. Discard the solids.
Once the meat has cooled slightly, using a knife or your fingers, remove and discard the bones, fat, and any remaining connective tissues. Cut or shred the remaining meat and then combine it with the sauce.
At this point I like to return the short ribs to the oven for 30-45 minutes in a covered dish. This allows the fat to float to the top and you can spoon it off easily before your serve dinner. Serve the short ribs with the sauce over anything you like – I chose whole wheat couscous – and top with a sprinkling of fresh parsley if you have it.