By Jennifer Brizzi (April 2014, Edition 5)
Photographed by Karen Pearson
Move over, wine. Beer has been around longer, appearing about 2,000 years prior. The oldest known recipe was for how to brew it. Historians claim that the love of beer has repeatedly affected the course of history, including turning us from hunter-gatherers into an agrarian society who needed to settle down and cultivate grains for beer making.
Move that six-pack (or four-pack or liter) of fine craft beer from the deck to the kitchen. It’s perfect with Asian foods like Thai, Chinese and Indian, with pizza (Italians prefer beer to Chianti with their pies), and American classics from fried chicken to barbecue.
Beer or ale as a cooking ingredient adds depth and complexity to chilies, soups, stews and Welsh rarebit, even breads and cakes. It puffs up crispy batter-coated veggies. It flavors sauerkraut and simmers bratwurst.
Take these intensely flavorful and impossibly tender short ribs from Chris O’Brien, who owns Farm to Table Bistro in Fishkill. Boasting a one-two punch of coffee and rich beer, they’re a great example of the lusciousness of “low and slow” cooking.
Chris O’Brien’s Short Ribs Braised in Beer
Chef O’Brien likes to serve these ribs and their luscious sauce over mashed potatoes jazzed up with roasted garlic, parmesan cheese or sour cream, and alongside roasted root vegetables like Brussels sprouts, turnips, parsnips and roasted beets, and as the season heats up, seasonal veggies.
6 short ribs on the bone (about 2½ lbs.)
1–2 tablespoons Jake’s Grillin’ Beef Rub or another
coffee-based rub—see below
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely (about 1½ cups)
1 medium carrot, chopped coarsely (about ¾ cup)
1 stalk celery, chopped coarsely (about ¾ cup)
8 whole garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
A six-pack of beer—see below
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons high-quality molasses
1. Bring short ribs to room temperature. Pat dry and coat with spice rub. Wrap well with plastic and refrigerate, overnight or less.
2. Preheat oven to 225˚ F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Be careful not to let butter burn at such a high heat, and add ribs, in 2–3 batches without crowding, searing all sides of the meat until brown. Set ribs aside.
3. Heat a large Dutch oven, or roasting pan over two burners, over medium-high heat.
4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
5. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook and stir until onion is translucent, about 5–10 minutes.
6. Add short ribs and garlic cloves and pour in enough of the six-pack of beer to barely cover the meat. If there is leftover beer…you can figure out what to do with it.
7. Cover with aluminum foil or pot cover and put in oven for about 5 hours or longer, until meat is very tender and has fallen off the bone.
8. If you are using a Crock-Pot, after browning the meat and cooking the onions, carrots and celery, you can combine all ingredients in the Crock-Pot and cook on low for about 8 hours, or until meat is tender.
9. When meat is done, let cool, covered, then remove ribs and set aside in a covered container.
10. Strain liquid through colander or strainer, into a sauce pot large enough to contain it.
11. At this point you need to de-fat it, which you can do by spooning it off the surface, or by chilling it overnight, or until there is a fat layer that you can lift off easily.
12. After removing fat, bring liquid to a boil and then lower to a simmer.
13. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half.
14. Stir in molasses and reduce by half again, season to taste and remove molasses mop from heat.
15. Heat oven to 350˚ F. In a heatproof serving dish, place ribs in one layer.
16. Drizzle over some of the reduced liquid and place ribs in oven to warm through.
17. Chef O’Brien likes to then brush more of the mop over the top and broil for 1–2 minutes to give a crispy, caramelized, jerky-like exterior to the ribs. He presents each serving by topping mashed potatoes with roasted vegetables drizzled with more of the gravy and topped with a succulent rib. █