This looked like a great new way to do short ribs and the Accidental Locavore was fascinated by the brining of the ribs, not to mention all the great Moroccan spices. It’s adapted from cooktasteeat.com. I cut it in half to feed 2-3 and used my own preserved lemons (recipe soon). Don’t let the length of this fool you-it’s easy stuff. You need to plan this a day ahead so the meat has time to brine (see my verdict below) and like most braises, it’s pretty easy.
For the brine:
- 4 cups water
- Heaping cup of sugar
- Heaping cup of Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 2-3 pieces star anise
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 chiles de arbol (or you could substitute ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes)
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 cups ice cubes (good excuse to clean out the ice maker)
Bring the water to a simmer in a large pot (big enough to hold the ribs, and the brine and still fit in the refrigerator) over medium heat. Add all the ingredients except the ice and stir to dissolve. Turn off the heat and let the spices brew for 15 minutes. Add the ice to cool down the brine. When the brine is cold, add the ribs, cover with a plate to keep them submerged and refrigerate overnight.
For the short ribs:
- 4 short ribs (about 2 pounds)
- 6 Italian parsley sprigs
- 6 cilantro sprigs
- Grapeseed or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ½” piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/8″ discs.
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 quarter of a preserved lemon, rinsed, halved lengthwise and pits removed
- 4 cups beef or chicken stock, or water
- ½ teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
Heat the oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven, or (a sturdy pot with a lid) large enough to hold the meat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the ribs, meat-side down and sear for about 4 minutes, until they are well browned. Repeat this until all the surfaces are browned, about 4 minutes a side. Put them on a plate or a small roasting pan with a rack (you’ll need it later).
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the pot, add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the cumin and ground ginger and stir for about a minute until fragrant. Add the meat, bone side down and enough stock to cover the meat (it should be close to being covered, but doesn’t have to be submerged-a lot depends on the size of your pot). Add the bunch of parsley and cilantro, the preserved lemon and saffron.
Make a disc of parchment paper to fit on top of the ribs (use the lid as a guide). Stick an edge of it into the liquid to keep it down, then top off with the pan lid. Put in the oven and cook for about 4 hours until the meat is tender. Remove the pot from the oven and let the ribs rest in the pot for 30 minutes. Do not turn off the oven.
Remove the ribs from the pot and place on the rack of the roasting pan. Raise the oven heat to 450°.
Ladle any fat that has risen to the top of the pot. Strain the liquid into a large saucepan and bring to a fast simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour to reduce the sauce to about 1 cup. Whisk in ½ tablespoon of the butter to finish the sauce. Taste and check for seasonings.
Put the other ½ tablespoon of butter on the ribs and heat in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the tops are nicely browned. Serve with the sauce and enjoy!
My (our) verdict: SALTY!!! The original recipe didn’t call for rinsing the brine off the ribs, just patting them dry-big mistake! When the stock that the brined beef has been cooking in for 4 hours, gets reduced, between the salt in the (commercial) stock and the salt from the brine, you’re left, after an hour, with something resembling the Dead Sea. Which was too bad, because the ribs were wonderfully tender, just melted in your mouth, probably because of the brining. The other issue Frank and I had, was that all those lovely spices, were totally lost in the final product. That’s the reason I put the saffron as optional, why waste money on something expensive that doesn’t show up in the taste? While I’m tempted to fool around with this some more, what I will do is take the time to brine short ribs the night before I cook them. And stick to the Guinness Braised Ribs.
More thoughts: The original recipe called for “aged butter” which is supposed to resemble blue cheese and a garnish of fleur de sel and cumin. I left all that out because the last thing the dish needed was any more salt. And in my version of the recipe, carefully rinse the brined meat and the preserved lemon!