Meaty braised short ribs slowly simmered in a rich coffee broth become meltingly tender and rich with complex flavours. (Skip to recipe.)
There are still the last drifts of crusty snow remaining in our yard to remind us that winter is not that far behind us.
Even though the days are getting warmer, and the first squills have appeared bravely through the cold soil . . .
I used meaty bison short ribs which came from buffalo raised by Raymond's brother and wife in northern Alberta. That is a real luxury, I know, but beef short ribs work just as well. The astringency of the tannic acid in the coffee, combined with the garlic and spices, works magic to tenderize the meat and provide a complex flavour that tastes nothing like your morning cup of Jo.
Serve with steamed buttered carrots or squash, a green salad, and mashed potatoes. Parsnip Mashed Potatoes or Lentil Mashed Potatoes would put these coffee braised short ribs over the top and gussy them up for company.
Homey dishes like this are never out of season.
* * * * *
- 2½ - 3 lbs (1.1-1.4kg) beef or bison short ribs
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 large onions
- 2 cups (175gms) button mushrooms or quartered larger mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 cups (480ml) strong brewed coffee
- 1 cup (240ml) beef or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
Trim the short ribs of any large areas of fat, and cut between the bones into individual ribs. Pat dry with a paper towel.
Heat the oil in a large (5 quart) heavy-bottomed dutch oven or skillet. Brown the ribs on all sides, in batches if necessary.
Remove the ribs to a plate; don't clean the pot.
Cut the onions in half and slice crosswise into half-moons. Clean and trim the mushrooms, quartering or slicing larger ones, and leaving small ones whole. Add the onions, mushrooms, and whole garlic cloves to the oil and browned bits at the bottom of the dutch oven or skillet. Sprinkle with the salt. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are browned and soft.
Nestle the browned ribs back into the dutch oven, tucking them among the sauteed onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle with the oregano and pepper and add the bay leaves and whole cloves. Pour the coffee and beef or chicken broth over the short ribs.
Scrape down any bits of onion stuck to the sides.
Cover with a lid and braise for 3 to 4 hours at 300°F. Check after 2 or 3 hours and add water if it looks like it's getting too dry.
Remove from oven, uncover, and drizzle evenly with the balsamic vinegar.
Note: If you prefer a thicker gravy, shake or whisk one tablespoon sweet rice flour or regular flour with about a half cup of broth or water and pour this over the short ribs during the last half hour of cooking to give it time to thicken up.
Serves 4 to 5.
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