Friday, August 24, 2007

Cherry Smoked, Milk and Vanilla Braised Beef Short Ribs

LTNP (long time no post)! We held an amazing six-course Biodynamic Wine Dinner recently. Here was my favorite bit:

Cherry Smoked, Milk and Vanilla Braised Beef Short Ribs

With Thyme Jus, Clove Oil, Shaved Bittersweet Chocolate

This recipe consists of four steps:

  1. Smoke the ribs
  2. Braise ribs -- they'd be good if you stopped here, but I went a step further:
  3. Prepare Thyme Jus and Clove Oil
  4. Assemble
This recipe is for six. One Severino's two-bone rib was great for my big brother, but a bit much for my sister-in-law and me.

This recipe is not a quick fix for a Tuesday night! Smoking the ribs takes about 3 hours, and braising about the same. Those are, of course, do-ahead steps. For those of us who do not lead a life of luxury with plenty of time on our hands the smoking could be done two days ahead, the braising the day before, and then everything could be reheated and assembled just before serving.

1. Smoke the ribs

6 ea beef short ribs, 2-bone

Hot-smoke at approximately180º for 3 hours with cherry wood and the reserved thyme stems (from the Thyme Jus, below). Cool, and then hard-sear.

2. Braise the ribs

1 ½ qt veal stock
1 gal whole milk
3 ea vanilla beans, split and scraped
1 sachet (1 bu thyme, 1 bu sage, ½ cup black peppercorns, 2 sticks cinnamon, 2 bay leaves, 1 T juniper berries)
2 C sangiovese

Preheat an oven to 375 º. In a heavy-bottom, non-reactive braising pan, bring the milk, veal stock, and the sachet to a light simmer. Add the short ribs and the vanilla beans (shells and all), bone side down, cover tightly and bring the temperature of the liquid back up to a simmer. Place the short ribs in your pre-heated oven and cook for approximately 2 hours or until nearly falling off the bone. Drop the temperature to 225º, uncover and continue cooking (basting every 15 minutes) for another hour or so. When finished, carefully remove the short ribs and let cool to room temperature. Discard the sachet, reserving the leftover liquid—which should be the consistency of a thick cream sauce—if it's too thin, begin reducing the liquid until it reaches the desired consistency.

Reheat the short ribs in 400º oven for about 5 minutes when ready to serve.

The braising liquid here is fantastic, and could really stand on it's own. To serve, place a set of ribs over truffled mashed potatoes, and drizzle with the braising liquid. Or, continue with the preparation below as the ribs are braising...

3. Prepare the Thyme Jus and Clove Oil

Thyme Jus

3 C veal stock
1 bunch thyme, fresh picked, reserve the stems for smoking
½ ea shallot, finely julienned

Toast the thyme leaves very lightly on a medium heat in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add the shallots and stir constantly for about one minute. Add the veal stock and bring to a very light simmer for about 20 min. Adjust seasoning with salt and pass through a chinois.

Clove oil:

2 T whole cloves, toasted
1 C grapeseed oil (or other neutral-tasting oil)

In a saucepan, toast the cloves until you begin to smell them quite heavily. Add the grapeseed oil and bring the temperature up to about 250º for 15 min. Transfer the contents to a blender and blend until the cloves appear fully decimated. Pass through a chinois and set aside.

4. Assembly

Place a small amount of the hot jus in a shallow bowl. Carefully place one of the two bone short ribs to the center of the bowl. Spoon a small amount of the braising sauce on top the meat; preventing it from dripping into the jus. Drizzle a little of the clove oil into the jus. Finish the whole dish with a little shaved bittersweet (about 75% cacao or higher) chocolate. Serve immediately.

We served this with a Mendocino Farms Redvine. Previous courses included Smoked Hamachi with a Ceago Sauvignon Blanc, a Lardo Carbonara with Grgich Hills Chardonnay, Pan-roasted Duck Breast with Mendocino Farms Syrah. We finished with a Hot Apple "Pie" served with an ice cream made from Humbolt Fog cheese, and a Bonny Doon Late Harvest Viognier. Tres yummy.