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Braised Beef Short Ribs with Figs
6-8 beef short ribs
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
1-1/4 cup dry red wine (substitute 1 1/4 cup beef stock OR 1/2 cup grape juice and 3/4 cup beef stock)
3 cups beef stock (plus more, if desired)
10-12 dried Mission figs, halved
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sprinkle the short ribs with a bit of salt and pepper and the 2 tablespoons of flour. Heat olive oil over medium/medium-high heat in a deep dutch oven or a large saucepan (big enough to fit all short ribs in a single layer). Place the short ribs in the pan. Cook for a minute or two on each side to brown. Remove the short ribs from the pan and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter and onions to the pan. Cook for a few minutes, until tender and golden.
Return the short ribs to the pan. Add the beef stock, wine, and figs. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and place it on the middle oven rack.
Allow it to cook for about 3 to 3-1/2 hours.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Once cool enough to handle, place the entire pan in the refrigerator overnight.
By the next day, the excess fat will have risen to the surface and become solid. Use a spoon to scoop away the fat. Over low heat, slowly reheat the short ribs and sauce. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as desired. The sauce should have a strong, rich flavor.
(If the flavor is too strong for your preference, you can add a bit more beef stock to mellow the flavor. If the flavor is not strong enough, allow the sauce to simmer uncovered until you’re happy with the flavor. The flavor will intensify as the liquid reduces.)
Optional: If you’re happy with the flavor but would prefer a thicker sauce, stir a few tablespoons of the hot sauce with about 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Stir and allow it to gently simmer for a few minutes. The cornstarch will help thicken the sauce.
Serve the short ribs (1-2 per person) over mashed potatoes with a spoonful of sauce.
A note about the wine in this recipe: Due to the long cooking time of this recipe, almost all of the alcohol in the wine will be cooked away. But, a very small percentage may remain. (See this chart.) I prepared this recipe for an adult dinner party, so the very small percentage of remaining alcohol was not a concern for our group, but if you are preparing this dish for your family you may wish to substitute beef stock for the wine or substitute about half of the wine with a no-sugar-added grape juice and the rest with beef stock.
For the Creamy Brie Mashed Potatoes: Peel, chop, and boil 6-8 russett potatoes, until fork tender. Strain and thoroughly smash the potatoes to desired consistency. Combine with lots of butter (I used a whole yummy stick.) and milk or cream. While still warm, stir an 8-ounce wedge of brie (rind removed) into the potatoes, until melted. The potatoes can be made a day ahead of time.
For the Roasted Asparagus: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse the asparagus and trim off the tough end. (A little trick for determining how much to cut is to hold one asparagus spear by the ends and bend. The point where the asparagus snaps is generally a good place to trim off.) Toss the asparagus in a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
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