We’re on the hunt for a cow. Well, not a real hunt. We don’t plan on shooting said cow. However, we do plan on purchasing half a cow from one of the wonderful grass-fed beef vendors in Washington. We were fortunate a month or so ago to participate in an artisan burger tasting led by Carrie Oliver of Oliver Ranch. During this tasting, we grilled up 2 oz hamburgers from six different farms. We tasted the burgers with only a bit of salt for seasoning (no bun). It was fascinating how very different each hamburger tasted. One was rich and flavorful, another had a slightly charcuterie flavor, yet another was smoky and deep, a fourth was mild and unremarkable, the next was sweet and unpleasant, and one tasted like… well… nothing at all… it was bland and flavorless.
We did the tasting blind, so no one knew which farm produced which burger until the very end. There were two burgers that stood out during the tasting (for us anyway, other farms stood out for other guests) and since the tasting, we’ve been trying burgers and other cuts of meats from these two farms to see if we can choose which farm gets our half cow order. One of the cuts of meat I’ve never been thrilled with is the subject of today’s recipe. Short Ribs. I’ve never been able to cook a good short rib. I’ve tried a couple of times and every time they were so fatty and unremarkable that I couldn’t actually eat them.
Enter the chicken boning class again. For dinner that night, Becky offered to make short ribs. I’d told her that I’d never been able to cook them well and her cookbook, the Washington Local and Seasonal Cookbook has a recipe that has two of my favorite ingredients (along with the short ribs): coffee and chocolate. Can you really go wrong with coffee and chocolate? I didn’t think so.
- Olive oil or lard
- 5 lbs beef short ribs
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 cups strong coffee
- 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes, with juice (or one 28 oz can)
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate (70% or higher cacao)
- Cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
- Remove the short ribs from their package and rinse them under cold water. Pat them dry.
- Season the short ribs liberally with salt and pepper. (Use more salt than you think you will need).
- Heat the olive oil or lard in a cast iron pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat.
- Place two or three of the short ribs in the pan. Be careful not to crowd the short ribs. You want to brown them, not steam them.
- Brown the short ribs well on all sides. You want the outsides of meat just a tad under burnt.
- Transfer the browned meat to a plate and continue to brown the rest of the meat. When done, remove all of the meat to the plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium and preheat the oven to 300.
- If you used a cast iron pan for the browning, heat more oil in a large oven safe covered casserole dish. If you’re using a Dutch oven, just keep on cookin’.
- Add the onions and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent, approximately 5-10 minutes.
- Next mix in the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Stir in the brown sugar and spices and cook for 5 minutes longer.
- Add the coffee, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste and bring the whole mixture to a boil.
- Return the short ribs to the pot and cover.
- Braise in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Mix in the chocolate until melted.
- Season with the cilantro and salt and pepper.
Our Notes: We’ve had this dish twice in the past three weeks. The first time (when Becky made it) I do think it was better. Why? Well, possibly the short ribs. Becky’s were a bit meatier. They also seemed to brown a bit better. I cooked my ribs in a Dutch oven, but the next time I make this dish I’ll brown the ribs in the cast iron pan and then transfer them to the Dutch oven. I also think the chocolate makes a big difference. I received some Scharffenberger chocolate as part of a gift bag and I used that. However I think the Theo chocolate had a smoother taste, even though they were the same percentage cacao.
We served the short ribs over pasta, but I think rice would have been a better side kick to this dish. The sauce is very flavorful with the coffee, chocolate, and the peppers, and rice would just soak it all up. Cook the rice and plate a bed of it. Then serve the short ribs and sauce over the top. Mashed potatoes would also work well here and the addition of some sort of starch would make this a complete meal.
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