Wintering - Valpolicella "Braised" Beef Shortribs
Slow Food to Warm and Restore you...
“Making a stew is like life itself: You gather together the resources you have available to you, toss them together, add in your own ideas, and let it simmer. But the 'make it or break it' part is the extra flavors you add. The seasonings of life are the moments of joy and laughter, the times you persevere, the giving and receiving of gifts and talents, the surprises that make you reevaluate, all those special times that keep life bright and daring.”
The weather has been odd in Northeast Ohio as it has been all over the country. No snow at all and then a blizzard hits and melts two days later leaving bright sunshine and 50 plus degree weather. Lots of our bulbs are starting to poke their pretty heads through, just to get dumped on the next day. I’ve always said that you have to be pretty resilient to live here and this winter hasn’t proved me wrong.
Then there’s COVID, which I finally got again two weeks ago after not having it since 2020. Jim had to go to a sales conference and somewhere between there and here brought it home. Fortunately both of us had mild cases, but a mild case of COVID is still fairly nasty, even for someone with a pretty robust immune response. I had lots of bone broth already made and frozen for such an occasion, so for over a week that’s all we ate. I lost my sense of taste and smell, so cooking was not without its challenges and I wasn’t even hungry.
Just when I was getting desperate, my nephew Mark sent a picture of something I could not ignore.
He was making Chianti braised short ribs in his Instant pot and as you can see they were GORGEOUS!
Suddenly, I was starving and one Instacart order later I was all set.
I love making slowly cooked beef dishes like this, there’s something way more satisfying about it for me than grilling a steak. I mostly don’t eat red meat, so if I’m going to make it, I always choose a recipe that really does it justice. I’m one of those kitchen witches that believes in honoring the food I’m cooking and thanking the spirit of the animal who provided it for me.
A recipe like this one, that utilizes wonderful flavors, plenty of time and provides so much nourishment checks off all of my boxes.
I played with the recipe that I’ve always used, which isn’t really a recipe, but more of a story that layers flavors until the end result is meltingly delicious. I hope that you’ll bear with me, and cook this by feel. I’ll do my best to get the proportions correct for you but please have fun tasting and adding to your hearts content.
One note. If you can , make this a day ahead of time. Giving these flavors a chance to blend always turns a wonderful dish like this into something that’s absolutely magical.
8 grassfed shortribs
3 carrots thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion thinly sliced
3 stalks of celery thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic finely minced
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
1 small can of organic diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 and a half cups of Marsala Wine
1 and a half cups of Valpolicella ( Treat yourself to a good one , I’ve found it to be great policy to never cook with wine I wouldn’t drink)
2 cups of beef bone broth - Kettle and Fire is good if you don’t have time to make your own!
1 tablespoon of Guittard cocoa powder (or any good dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa powder)
1/4 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon
2 bay leaves
8 stems of fresh thyme
4 stems of fresh oregano
2 stems of fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons of organic butter
To make this, drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of your instant pot and then add the carrots, celery, garlic and onion. Saute until translucent and a bit caramelized. remove the vegetables from the Instant pot and add the shortribs. Saute them until browned on all sides and then add the vegetables back into the pot.
Next add the mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato paste and all of the herbs and spices and saute this for about 10 more minutes, stirring regularly.
It should be starting to smell amazing!
Now it’s time to add the cocoa powder, wines and bone broth.
Let it simmer for about 5 minutes and then put the lid on your Instant pot. Choose the high pressure setting, 50 minutes of cooking time is really all this will need to have the meat falling off of the bone.
When this is done , release the steam and remove the lid. Let it sit long enough for the fat to come to the top and remove most of it. When it’s cool, remove the bay leaves and herb stems.
After you have removed the fat and the herbs, remove the shortribs and put them in a pan to wait while you turn the saute feature back on and let all of the gravy cook some more to thicken, stirring occasionally. If you need to add some cornstarch this is when you would do it, but I’ve never needed to do so.
Now taste it. This is when you’ll want to add the salt and pepper. If you have some good truffle salt, even better. It lends a wonderfully earthy flavor to this dish. Then to gild the lily, whisk in the butter.
I love to serve this with creamy polenta that I’ve stirred some parmesan (use your own discretion here!) into with a little bit of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Served with a simple side salad and a glass of the leftover Valpolicella , you’ve got a meal that is really rich and soothing on a cold winters night.
You’ll have plenty of leftovers if there’s only a few of you and you can turn these into a wonderfully rich vegetable beef soup by simply shredding the beef and adding more vegetables and broth.
Also? If you have extra beef, shred it and cook it with some caramelized onions. Then stuff it into a grilled cheese sandwich and dip it into some of the leftover gravy.
You can thank me later!
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“There is something about very cold weather that gives one an enormous appetite. Most of us find ourselves beginning to crave rich steaming stews and hot apple pies and all kinds of delicious warming dishes; and because we are all a great deal luckier than we realize, we usually get what we want—or near enough.” ~Roald Dahl
Short ribs are one of our favourite things. We serve ours over polenta or mashed potatoes.