I think my favorite type of food is rustic, country-style food. I love the lack of pretense and fussiness. It’s relaxed in appearance and yet usually full of flavor making it satisfying and comforting.
I was recently recalling a dinner in California with friends with the host making ribs in red wine. It was a time when I appreciated great food but was not particularly into cooking much. I was looming in the kitchen with a glass of wine asking questions and I recall the host saying the red wine tenderizes the meat. I’m not sure whether that is true or not but the memory prompted me to make my own Red Wine Braised Short Ribs.
I’ve loved braising over the past year and each time I do it I think I really need to do it more often. It’s a two-step process of searing meat then adding liquid, and sometimes vegetables, to cook in the oven to finish. I find it a very easy method yielding deeply flavored, savory dishes without much fuss.
Some of my favorite dishes I’ve shared are Vermouth-Braised Lemon Chicken Legs, Cider-Braised Chicken Thighs with Apples and Onions and Braised Cream Sherry Chicken Thighs with Cherries. Chicken dishes are quicker to make with the oven time being less than an hour. The beef short ribs cook in the oven for 2-3 hours until they are tender and almost falling off the bone. When putting them into the oven the bone is not exposed and over the cooking time the shrink, rendering their fat. They emerge a deep, dark, sumptuous shade of brown having cooked in a reduced Cabernet Sauvignon beef broth reduction with aromatic vegetables.
For a perfect pairing, I prepared Yukon Gold Whipped Garlic Potatoes. The garlic is boiled with the potatoes which are passed through a ricer or food mill leaving them creamy and smooth. The potatoes are made with milk (in fact I used non-fat dairy milk) and a bit of butter, and are whipped at the end to leave them light. The ribs are rich so a lighter potato, still with plenty of flavor, works well. Were you to make them as a side dish for a lighter meat, half-and-half or some cream could be added if desired.
Though the ribs are seemingly small, as mentioned earlier, they are rich. In chatting with my butcher about portion size he felt 3 ribs were about right per person, and 3 ribs make up almost a pound. I feel 3 pounds is good for serving four, especially with potatoes and maybe a side salad.