Braised Short Ribs with Horseradish-Potato Mash

short ribs

Even though spring is officially here, I'm still craving comfort foods, like stews and braised meats. Since cold weather isn't a prerequisite for braising, this past weekend I braised short ribs. After a low, slow braise, the meat turns buttery, soft and absolutely tender enough to cut into with a fork. With Passover and Easter just around the corner, a braised meal is just right for a holiday dinner with family. Instead of the more typical brisket for Passover, why not bring braised short ribs to the Seder table?

Every year around this time, I love to enjoy Passover foods even if I'm not Jewish. (I am still waiting for someone to invite me over for Passover.) I love matzo ball soup and can't get enough of chocolate-covered jelly rings, which I add to my homemade sorbet. But I'm in love with short ribs. It's definitely still popular—I saw it on the menu at Orson restaurant when I was in San Francisco last month. A meal of short ribs is literally a stick-to-your ribs kind of food. So, no, I wouldn't eat it every day, but on special occasion, why not?

For this recipe I use English cut short ribs, which are ribs cut to short lengths. Previously I've used flanken-style, which are ribs cut crosswise. With English cut, you end up with beautiful large rectangular chunks of meat, and if you so like, leave them with the ribs attached for that Flintstone's look. It makes an impressive dinner. This recipes isn't hard to prepare. It just takes time to cook. Start it in the morning to have it ready for dinner. Or Make it whenever, and refrigerate. It's just as good—if not better—rewarmed the next day.

Braised Short Ribs

3 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
8 beef short ribs (about 4 to 5 pounds), trimmed of surplus fat
olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
flour
3 large white onions, coarsely chopped
1 head garlic, cloves separated
4 large carrots, cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths
4 stalks celery, cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine
Horseradish-Potato Mash, recipe follows
chopped parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the bouquet garni by combining bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme on a square of cheesecloth. Bring corners together and tie securely with kitchen twine.

Warm a thin layer of oil oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven set over medium heat. Liberally season ribs with salt and pepper. Dust with flour. Once oil is hot, sear ribs in two batches, until all sides are brown. Remove ribs to a plate.

Add onions and a large pinch of salt. Saute, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the casserole, until onions are translucent and have released their moisture. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and bouquet garni. Nestle ribs back among vegetables. Pour over with wine. If needed, top off with water to make sure contents are covered with liquid. Bring to a boil. Cover casserole and place in oven for 3 hours.

Remove ribs and carrots to a platter. Discard the bouquet garni. Strain the remaining vegetables over a large saucepan. Let the fat rise to the surface of the sauce and skim with a ladle. Alternatively, pour into a fat separator. Discard the fat. Using the back of the ladle, press the vegetables through the strainer into the sauce until pureed. Discard the remaining pulp. Stir the sauce to combine and check seasoning. Set over medium heat to reduce slightly. Return the ribs and the carrots to the sauce and rewarm. Serve over horseradish-potato mash. Garnish with parsley. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Horseradish-Potato Mash

fine sea salt
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
1-1/2 cups milk, warmed

Boil potatoes in a pot of liberally salted water until knife tender, about 10 minutes.

Using a potato ricer or food mill, press potatoes into a large bowl. Stir in horseradish. Add butter, a little at a time, stirring until melted. Add milk, a little at a time, until absorbed. Check seasoning. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.