These ribs really don't need an introduction, and yet I managed to turn out several paragraphs about how exceptional they are. And believe me, I tried to keep the photos to a minimum. I typically post between one and six photos, but this time, you simply must see the photos from start to finish. It’s a gratifying moment to pull off the lid during the last twenty minutes of cooking and see the burgundy, tender ribs about to fall off their bones. It’s even better to pull the meat gently with your fork and place a bite in your mouth. It was a celebratory moment, to eat something this delicious in our own dining room, and the perfect way to ring in the new year.
This New Year’s was a night to remember, and it wasn’t because we went out to some fancy party and went to sleep at three o’clock in the morning. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. I arrived home early from work and walked two blocks to Whole Foods to gather everything I needed for an amazing meal. We stayed in, cooked all afternoon, drank red wine, then champagne, then made Italian donuts and ate them as we watched the countdown from Time’s Square. It was just perfect.
These short ribs are exceptionally wonderful. Even the smell when they were browning (this, before adding the aromatics and red wine) was compelling. Then, after adding pureed onion, celery, garlic and carrot, red wine and watching it come together into a beautiful burgundy color, the scent perfumed our kitchen, living room, hallway…
The most intensive part of the cooking process is the beginning, when the ribs need to be browned, the aromatics must be browned, wine reduced, ribs added back to pot, covered in water and then…ahh. Three hours later, they’re done to perfection, covered in a red wine sauce smelling of thyme. And let’s not forget the celery root and potato puree, which is the perfect compliment to these tender, rich ribs. The puree is creamy, and the hint of celery at the back of your mouth wakes up the entire dish. I’m absolutely certain this will be our go-to New Year’s meal from now on. It’s just too good.
Braised Short Ribs
Recipe courtesy Anne Burrell
6 bone-in ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds) (I had the butcher cut them into thirds, for about 15 short ribs)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves
Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crud and let it reform. Scrape the crud again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half (about 5-10 minutes).
Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water or until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.
Celery Root and Potato Puree
3 large Idaho potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes, held in water until ready for use
1 large celery root, tough outer parts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 stick cold butter, cut into pats
Special Equipment: Food mill (You can mash them yourself, or puree in a stand mixer)
Place the potatoes in a pot large enough to accommodate the celery root and the potatoes. Make sure to add enough water to cover vegetables by 2 inches and season generously with salt. Bring the water to a boil. When the water has been boiling for about 10 minutes, add the celery root and cook until both vegetables are "fork tender". Strain the celery root and potatoes.
Put the cream in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, pass the celery root and potatoes through a food mill into a large bowl. Add about 1/4 of the hot cream and 2 pats of the butter. Stir vigorously until the cream and butter are thoroughly combined. Repeat this process until all of the cream and butter have been incorporated. Taste for seasoning, you will probably have to add salt. Serve in a warm serving bowl immediately or keep warm until ready to use.
*I used a tad less butter, and two large potatoes instead of three.