Braised Beef Short Rib w/ Saffron Risotto

This is one of my all time favorite dishes; the Saffron in the risotto adds such a delicate, complex flavor that marries ever so gently with the bold flavors of the slow cooked short ribs. Short ribs are a great cut of meat when handled correctly; show them some slow tender love, keep them moist, and they will pay you back ten fold what you paid for them!

Ingrdients: 1-2 Ilbs beef short ribs; 1 cup Arborio rice; 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes + 1/2 the juice; 1 tbsp each of fresh thyme, oregano, and sage chopped fine; 1 shallot chopped fine; 2 cups white wine; 3 cups chicken stock; 1 tbsp tomato paste; two small onions, diced fine; 1 tbsp Saffron threads; 2 tbsp of EVOO; 2 tbsp butter; pecorino romano cheese; S&P to taste.

Start by covering the short ribs on all six sides with S&P and then heat the oil in a pan and brown the ribs on all sides until they are dark brown

Deep brown coor of the short ribs

Once they are browned, set aside on a plate and add one chopped onion and shallot to the pan; cook for about three minutes and then add 1/2 a cup of chicken stock (stock, not broth . . .the bones are everthing) to deglaze the pan.  Be sure to scrape up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan (“brown bits”) to enhance the flavor; this is another restaurant trick to give your sauces extra levels of awesomeness.  Reduce for about five minutes and add 1/2 cup of wine and reduce for another five minutes.  All the while, ensure there is a rolling boil to reduce the sauce.  Next crush the tomatoes by hand and add them and half the juice from the can to the pan. Also add all of the chopped herbs.  Cook for another ten minutes and add the tomato paste.  Get some good paste, don’t be chincy and get kroger brand or your food will taste like Kroger brand.  I recommend a San Marzano paste that you can close up and use multiple times (http://bit.ly/g2ABWr)

San Marzano Tomato Paste

How many times have you bought a $1 can and only used it once before it turns black? Next add the short ribs back to the pan and ensure the liquid only covers them by 1/2 – 2/3.  By all means, the top 1/3 of the meat has to be exposed or you will ruin the dish and end up with some boiled, cheap meat and your friends and family will never come back for dinner…if this is your end, then go ahead :)

Short Ribs ready for braising; notice the top 1/2 - 1/3 is above the liquid

Cover the pan and simmer for two  – three hours, depending on the size of the ribs.  You can either do this on the range or in the oven @ 300 degrees.  To check, the meat should fall off the bone and be able to be cut with the side of a fork; general rule is, if it tastes awesome it’s probably done.  If you’re unsure, put them back in.  The greatest thing about braising is that it’s almost impossible to overcook something.  That is unless you’re on that ‘Worst Cook in America’ show, and if so you should not be attempting this dish!

While the ribs are cooking it’s time to start the risotto!  Also put the remaining broth and wine (reserve 1/2 cup) in a pot and heat on low.   Heat one tbsp EVOO in a pan, add the remaining onion and cook until translucent, approx 5-7 minutes.  Next, add one cup Arborio rice and incorporate the onion.

Arborio Rice

Cook for 2-3 minutes and add 1 tbsp of butter, real butter damnit…not that fake crap; cook for 2-3 minutes then add 1 tbsp of tomato paste and incorporate.  It may take awhile to incorporate the paste and you may have to scrape the spoon a few times.  At this point no liquid should have touched the pan; this is what it should look like:

Risotto ready for some loving

Next add the 1/2 cup of wine and cook until evaporated; this will add huge flavor and complexity; be sure to stir and not let the rice stick to the bottome of the pan.  If it sticks and even one piece burns, you will have to start over :( .  Continue to add broth as it evaporates and is soaked up by the rice.  Add the Saffron before the last ladle of the broth/wine mixture and allow it to pick up the flavors.  Add salt and pepper to taste and ensure it cooks until hardly any liquid remains. You may have to add more broth/wine if the rice is too hard; check after about 45 minutes of the ladeling process

Saffron Risotto nearing an end

Take a shallow (1 in deep) dish and add 3/4 cup of risotto; top with one large or two small short ribs, bone in.  Top with some of the tomato braising sauce and ladle 2-3 tbsp in the bottom of the dish.  Shave a little Pecorino Romano over the top, drizzle EVOO, and add a sprig of Sage for garnish.  To kick it up a little, add truffle oil, dried red pepper flakes and salish (alder wood smoked salt – most amazing aroma I have ever smelled; every time I open the jar I smile – http://www.saltworks.us/salish-smoked-sea-salt-jar.html)

Enjoy this incredible meal!

Braised short ribs

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