It's ten a.m. on Sunday, where will you find me? Lingering over several cups of creamy coffee while still in my flannel jammies and wool socks. I'm probably contemplating a bouncy walk along the seawall with my flakey adolescent Irish Setter, or a novel under a blanket in my sunroom, bathed in buttery, mellow winter light. I'm a firm believer that Sundays, like shortribs, should be done slowly.
There's just something about the aroma of your efforts filling your kitchen for hours before dinner time that make braising such a worthwhile cooking endeavour. This recipe is incredibly easy and results in a wonderfully satisfying, comforting and downright delicious stew. I really love the subtle sweetness and gentle heat that the cinnamon adds to the rich, mellow beef. The sauce becomes luciously flavourful, and the meat develops a fall-off-the-bone texture after being simmered slowly in a warmly spiced bath of winey tomato and garlic. There is something about this dish that I find incredibly soul-satisfying.
This particular recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman's Beef Stew with Cinnamon, from his cookbook The Best Recipes in the World. I must admit, I am dubious if not downright snobbish about any book who's primary selling feature is the number of recipes it contains. But Mark is just a man of super-human talent and ambition, and his work produced my most favorite go-to book for new ideas. Of his "more than 1,000 International dishes to cook at home" - a good number have already found a place on my plate and in my heart.
The actual preparation is minimal - brown the meat, throw some onions and garlic in the pot along with some cinnamon, douse it all with wine, tomato paste and broth, and consume with fervour after 2+ hours of being tormented by the salivary gland-stimulating smell. I served mine with peeled, halved potatoes, tossed in salt and olive oil and roasted at 350 degrees for one hour. It is equally delicious with a nice, crusty bread or lapped straight off a plate.
Braised Shortribs with Warm Spices
The cinnamon and cloves add a subtle warmth to the rich tomato and wine sauce.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs beef short ribs
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock
2-3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
One 5.5 oz can tomato paste
Put the oil in a dutch oven, or deep skillet with a lid, and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the short ribs, seasoned with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides. Transfer meat to plate.
Pour off all but 1 tbsp of fat from dutch oven. Add onions, reduce heat to medium-low and allow them to brown for approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic, cook for about one minute. Add cloves and cinnamon, and cook for one minute more.
Return beef to pot and add wine, tomato paste, bay leaves, and chicken broth. Cover tightly and simmer for 2 or more hours, until meat is very tender. Enjoy!