Friday, December 31, 2010

Coffee-Beer-Braised Short Ribs

Gentle reader, read this recipe quickly, as it might soon be illegal. Since NYC has banned sales of Four Loko, that can of pure vile that equates to the alcohol of three beers and the caffeine of three cups of coffee, there could be trouble if the authorities get wind of this short-rib braise consisting of near-equal parts—you guessed it—beer and coffee.

Short ribs are a wonderfully rich and flavorful cut of beef; they’re inexpensive, though there is a fair amount of bone and fat going on in the cut, so I recommend buying a bit more weightwise per person than you would of a steak-type cut of beef. This is a great comforting winter dish to feed (and impress) a crowd, for waaay less money than a tenderloin or rack of what-have-you.

Although short ribs do need to be slow-cooked for a long time, they need no maintenance while they’re in the oven. I recommend cooking them a night or two in advance (I often multitask by browning and braising the ribs while I whip up a quick meal for that night). Another advantage of advance cooking is that once you put the dish in the fridge, the fat from the short ribs forms a solid layer on top of the liquid, which you can then skim off before reheating and serving.

Preheat the oven to 300°.

Sprinkle short ribs with salt and pepper and brown them over medium-high heat in batches, starting fatty side down and turning with tongs, in an oven-proof pot, lined with about 1 TBSP vegetable oil.

Once all sides of the beef are brown, remove them to a plate with the tongs.

Turn the burner heat up to high and add to the pot:

  • 2 cups brewed coffee (cold and stale is fine)
  • 1 bottle beer (preferably a brown beer like Guinness or Brooklyn Brown)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo (store the rest in a tight-lidded glass jar in the fridge)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Several cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup molasses or packed brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper

    (These proportions are for about 3 pounds of short ribs; I would use more liquid for more meat, but not necessarily increase the seasoning unless you’re making LOTS more.)

    When this comes to a boil, turn off the burner and add the meat back to the pan; if the liquid doesn’t cover the meat, add water or more stock until it does.

    Cover the pot with an oven-proof lid (or wrap tinfoil tightly over the top) and put it in the oven. (You could doubtless do this dish in a slow cooker as well; however, not having the counter space for one, I am unable to advise you as to cooking time/procedure. Please weigh in with a comment if you have a hunch.)

    Cook for a few hours, or until the meat comes right off the bone when you stick a fork into it. If in doubt, err on the side of cooking longer. Again, you can chill overnight, or just lift the meat out and serve.

    This is great served over soft polenta in a wide, shallow bowl, or try it with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or parsnip puree. You could reduce and thicken some of the remaining liquid with flour to make gravy to pour over the meat, or just lightly sauce it with the liquid (you don’t want it to be all soupy).

    Happy New Year, everyone!


    1. I find ribs need about 8 hours in the slow cooker on low.

    2. Thanks Gene! I remember you discussing a plan to slow-cook short ribs. Would you say the consistency of the meat comes out better than the regular oven? I could see that being the case...

    3. Looks delicious. We'll have to try it!