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Smoked And Braised Beef Short Ribs Sorta Provencal

Beef ribs are tough but flavorful. The best way to tenderize tough cuts is by slow cooking. Slow smoke roasted Barbecue beef ribs are my first choice in warm weather, but when the snowballs fly, braising indoors in a flavorful liquid is the way to go. Regardless of the weather, I like to do both, smoke the meat for an hour or two to pick up some smoky goodness, and then braise it!

Braising is a method of cooking in a flavorful liquid low and slow, just like barbecue, so the meat tenderizes and all the flavors meld into a harmonious symphony. The liquid is kept to a low simmer, tiny bubbles, not big ones.

Beef ribs are a desirable component in a braised dish because they contain so many flavorful elements, fat, connective tissue (collagen that turns to gelatin), marrow, and, of course, beef. Click here to learn more about the different cuts of beef ribs.

Based on a classic French stew from Provence, this recipe fills the house with seductive aromas and, if you prepare it on Saturday, refrigerate it overnight, and serve it on Sunday, the house will smell great for two days straight. Besides, braised meat often tastes better the next day, after all their flavors have intermingled. Some recipes call for boneless ribs, you should leave the bone in because water is a solvent and will extract some of the marrow can adding to the richness of the stew. Deep, meaty, flavorful, and hearty, this is the ideal winter meal with a rich red wine to be followed by an evening wallowing on the couch with a movie.

This recipe calls for cooking in a heavy pot on the stovetop, but you can easily adapt it for cooking in a slow cooker.

I like to serve this on a bed of egg noodles, but you can use mashed potatoes, polenta, rice, cous cous, or serve it straight with a crusty loaf of bread. Try it with a simple salad of chopped lettuce and blue cheese with a big, full-bodied red.

Recipe

Makes. Serves 3-4 people

Takes. 30 minutes prep time and 4 hours to cook

The Beef

4 pounds beef short ribs, bone in, trimmed of excess fat and silverskin

Salt and crushed black pepper

3 tablespoons butter (either salted or un)

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and cut into bite size chunks

2 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into bite size chunks

6 cloves of garlic, peeled, and cut in half

2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence (or equal parts thyme, basil, and tarragon)

2 whole bay leaves

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

1 quart unsalted broth (beef, chicken, veggie, or a combo)

1 (14.5 ounce) can chopped or whole tomatoes

1 bottle full-flavored dry red wine such as syrah or shiraz

12 prunes

Salt and pepper to taste

The Noodles

8 ounces of egg noodles, about 1/2" wide

The Garnish

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Optional. Add 1/2 cup Nicoise olives, pitted (small, brine-cured olives) to the beef.

Wine. Serve with a big red wine, like a French wine from the Rhone region (which is near Provence) such as a Hermitage, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cote-Rotie, or Gigondas. Another option is a wine from the US or Australia labeled Syrah or Shiraz. These are the same grape, and a big part of the blend used in the Rhone region.

Method

1) Cut the meat into single bone sections and sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper. Throw them on the smoker at about 225°F for about an hour. That won't cook them much, but it will impart a nice smoke undertone.

2) In a large heavy pot, about 5 quarts, melt about 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbes de Provence, and bay leaves and cook over medium heat until the carrots begin to soften, about 20 minutes.

3) Add the mustard, prunes, wine, tomatoes, and broth. Finally, add the meat last. Bring the liquid to a boil but don't let it boil for more than a few seconds, and then dial the temperature to a gentle simmer. Boiling meat makes it tough and dry, squeezing out its juices. Cook for 3 hours without a cover.

4) Take out a piece of meat, pierce it with a fork, and gently twist. The meat should be tender and just about to pull from the bone. Remove the meat and put it in a bowl or on a plate.

5) Turn the heat to high and reduce it to about four cups or whenever it tastes right. Keep an eye on the pot and stir frequently or it will stick to the bottom and burn and that can ruin the whole shootin match. If it does burn resist the temptation to scrape the bottom. That burned stuff will ruin it (I am speaking from experience here). Just pour it into a new pot. While the sauce is cooking, and when the ribs are cool enough to handle, remove the bones and trim the thick layer of cartilage that is between the meat and bone.

6) While the sauce is reducing, start a 2 quart pot of water boiling and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the noodles and boil according to the instructions on the package.

7) After the liquid has reduced, let it sit for a few minutes so the fat can rise to the surface. Skim the fat with a large flat spoon and discard it. Add the meat back to the braising liquid, add the olives if you decide to use them, and place over a medium low burner for about 10 minutes until the meat is warmed through. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

8) Place the noodles on the plates, put the meat and veggies on top, pour the liquid on top, sprinkle with parsley.

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