My husband and I just had a discussion- an actual conversation- about what we think we would taste like if eaten. We were placing ourselves in the zombie apocalypse (Oh. Did I fail to mention that we had just finished watching an episode of The Walking Dead? Right. Sorry.) and debating over what humans would taste like. First, chicken was tossed out. (Because…that’s just the obvious initial comparison everyone makes, right? Tastes like chicken.) But I said I thought we’d be more pork-like than chicken-like. We’ve got more fleshy parts than a chicken. I, for one, definitely have smaller breasts and a larger roast, so it was just logical for me to make the pork parallel. I threw out there that there’s the possibility we could be kinda alligator-ish: part fishy/part chicken-y. Neither one of us thought beef. Then my husband had a good point. He said we have so much muscle structure in our bodies that we would probably taste pretty good. He also said he thought I would be so lean and muscular that I would be one of the hardest to cook- (Aw!! Have you ever heard anything so sweet?!) I said, well yeah but we would probably require some slow cooking to tenderize the muscle and really bring out our flavor. I said we would need to be braised. He agreed. Then we ended the discussion and went to bed.
So, for today’s recipe…
I love a good braised meat. It’s perhaps one of my favorite things to cook and eat this time of year, something I quickly get excited about at the beginning of October. That, and anything pumpkin. My go-to braised dish is my Beef Short Ribs over Sour Cream Grits. I have to tell you, without any sort of ego being attached to this, based on sheer fact alone, I make the bestest and most amazing Short Ribs you have ever eaten. And I have to be careful who I serve this dish to because they’ll become so attached to me that I have to eventually become Mean Abbey to get them to give me some space. I’ve broken a lot of hearts over this dish. It’s a thing. I’ve posted a Short Rib recipe before, after I just had my daughter, but I generally don’t follow a recipe when I’m making a meal. (Plus, I’ve perfected my method a bit since then…) Instead, I really just keep a few tips and tricks in mind to ensure that it’s awesome every time, and that way I can interchange certain ingredients based on what I have on hand at the time. So, instead of giving you a brand new recipe, I’m gonna bullet point some important steps for you to follow the next time you braise.
And if you have any questions, you let me know (promise I won’t cook you).
*Abbey’s (Short Rib) Braising Tips
(These tips will work with any braise-worthy meat: chuck roast, brisket, pork shoulder…I’m just specifically speaking of beef short ribs today because they’re my fav.)
-I know it’s controversial, but I prefer using boneless beef short ribs over the bone-in. And I only do this because at my grocery store/butcher, I have never been able to get really meaty bone-in pieces, so I go for the boneless ones, as they are the biggest with the most meat. And I would plan on 2 short rib pieces per person.
-Season your meat at least 4 hours in advance, but overnight/all day is preferred. I usually do a ton of kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and dried rosemary. Refrigerate, uncovered til ready to cook.
-Always begin with room temperature meat. Allow your meat to sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes before you begin to cook it, as this will guarantee even cooking.
-Sear your ribs first!!! Always. That’s what begins the braise. That’s what gives you your desired texture and flavor. Skipping this step is a bad idea. No bueno. High heat skillet-a little light oil-sear on each side til dark brown and crusty. Remove and let rest after they’ve been seared.
-Add in your mirepoix- I prefer large chunks of onion, celery, carrot and whole cloves of garlic. But adding parsnips, beets, turnips, potatoes, anything root-like is great here. Let them begin to brown a bit.
-Deglaze with booze. I prefer a dry red wine usually, but a dark beer is a fabulous switch up. Scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
-Add your stock. I prefer beef stock. You will need enough to halfway cover the ribs/veggies (when they’re back in there). Sometimes I’ll add a couple bouillon cubes…(shhh)
-Add in something with a sweet/twang. I prefer balsamic vinegar and a bit of brown sugar. Any other vinegar would work, fortified wines are great, and dried fruit (prunes) is also good here as well.
-Add in aromatics. I prefer bay leaves/rosemary stems.
-Put ribs back in, make sure liquid comes up to about the halfway point. If not, add water.
-Bring to boil. Cover, reduce to simmer. Place in 275 degree oven for 3 hours- (This is approximate. You’ll know when it’s done when the meat is falling apart if you fork it.)
-Place pan on stove top. Remove solids from the pan, set aside. Boil braising liquid vigorously until it reduces to a thick, almost syrupy consistency. But taste as you go along, and add water if needed because sometimes you end up with something too salty.
-Serve your ribs with the veggies over sour cream grits (make your grits how you would normally, then stir in a bit of sour cream before serving), and cover with your reduced braising liquid.
-Garnish with flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), fresh parsley leaves and lemon zest (optional).