To celebrate the first week of fall, I decided to break out the old Dutch oven and do some braising. Thumbing through the pages of Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl and John Willoughby, I opted for Braised Short Ribs with Dijon Mustard. So far, all of the recipes from this book have been a resounding success, plus this one had the added bonus of being adapted by chef Daniel Boulud. I ventured into the kitchen, confident something delicious was going to happen.
The short ribs tasted like they had been braising for at least a day, if not two, falling off the bone with a rich beefy, wine-y flavor. And the beautiful part? They didn't take all day—in fact they were finished in about three hours.
There are a few sneaky tricks in this recipe that assist in the illusion of an all-day braise. The first step is to reduce a bottle of wine down to about one cup, concentrating the flavor of the wine. The next involves thoroughly browning the short ribs, then browning the shallots in the fat and juices rendered from the ribs. The shallots are removed and the ribs go back into the pot with the reduced wine and spicy Dijon mustard; the lid goes on and the ribs cook. The browned shallots are reintroduced after about an hour and a half. This way, they keep their integrity and all of that great browned onion flavor. A few raw tomatoes and nothing else. This recipe doesn't call for any herbs or spices—not even a carrot or a clove of garlic. The ingredients verge on austere but the flavor is huge, deep, and earthy.
Three hours for decidedly French and insanely wonderful, falling off the bone short ribs, c'est pas mal, Monsieur Boulud.
- 1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine
- 4 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 2 1/2-inch lengths by the butcher
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 shallots, trimmed, leaving the root ends intact, and halved lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
- 6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Boil the wine in a 2-quart heavy sauce pan, uncovered, until reduced to about 1 cup, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, pat the ribs dry and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat the oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the ribs in 2 batches and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs to a bowl.
Reduce heat to moderate, add the shallots to fat remaining in pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to another bowl.
Stir reduced wine and mustard into the juices in the pot. Add the ribs, meat side down, cover tightly, and simmer, for 1 1/2 hours.
Gently stir shallots and tomatoes into the braised rib mixture and continue to simmer, covered, without stirring, until meat is very tender, about 1 hour more.
Carefully transfer the ribs, shallots, and tomatoes to a platter. Skim off fat from cooking liquid. Liquid should coat a spoon and measure about 1 cup; if necessary, boil to reduce.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper and pour over ribs.
Note: The shallots can be browned and the ribs braised in the wine and mustard up to 1 day ahead. Cool, uncovered, skim off some of the fat from the surface of the braising liquid. Bring the rib mixture to a boil, covered, then gently stir in the shallots and tomatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer until the meat is very tender, about 40 minutes.