Sunday, March 01, 2020

Home Grown: Braised Short Ribs with Dr. Pepper Beans

I don't know what I was thinking when I picked this recipe to make.  I think I'm still searching for the perfect from-scratch baked beans, with that thick sweet bacony sauce surrounding the tender beans.  But alas, today is not that day.  The short ribs were actually pretty good, nice and tender.  But the beans.  Oh, the beans.  They were not the beans of my dreams.  They were sad beans, nearly naked, without that beautiful coating that I'm yearning for.  So the search continues...

Note: I used great northern beans instead of kidney beans.

Braised Short Ribs with Dr. Pepper Beans
Adapted from Home Grown: Cooking from My New England Roots

For the beans:
2 cups dried kidney beans
Canola oil, for the dish
2¾ teaspoons kosher salt
2 to 3 cups Dr. Pepper soda
⅓ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 thick-cut bacon slices, quartered crosswise

For the short ribs:
4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 4-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large tomato, cored and quartered
6 garlic cloves
¼ bunch fresh thyme
2 cups beef stock
1½ cups dry red wine
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Make the beans:
Put the beans in a bowl and add enough cold water to cover by a few inches.  Soak at room temperature overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish.

Drain the beans and transfer to a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven.  Add enough fresh water to cover and 2 teaspoons of the salt, then bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the beans are just tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Add 2 cups of the soda, the tomato paste, vinegar, the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, and the pepper and stir to combine.

Transfer the beans to the prepared baking dish and top with the bacon.  The beans can be made up to this point, covered, and refrigerated overnight, or baked, cooled, and refrigerated, then reheated before serving.  Bake until the bacon is crisp and the beans are hot and bubbling, about 1 hour, adding more soda to the dish if the beans are beginning to look dry.  If, after an hour, the beans are still not tender, cover with aluminum foil and cook until they are (older beans take longer to soften).  When the beans are tender, remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 275°F.

Make the short ribs:
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat.  Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.  When the pan is hot, add the short ribs (in batches, if necessary) and sear, turning, until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

In a food processor, combine the celery, carrots, onion, tomato, and garlic and process until the mixture is finely, evenly chopped.

Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  Add the remaining ¼ cup olive oil and the thyme to the pot.  Add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Pour in the stock and wine and bring to a boil.  Add the browned short ribs to the pot; the liquid should almost cover the meat.  Reduce the heat to bring the liquid to a simmer, cover the pot, and transfer to the oven.  Uncover and check after 15 minutes; the liquid should be just simmering.  Adjust the oven temperature, if necessary, then re-cover and cook.  Cook until meat is very tender, 2 to 2½ hours.  Remove the short ribs from the oven and return the beans to the oven to warm through.  The short ribs can be prepared to this point, cooled to room temperature, then transferred to the refrigerator.  The following day, scrape the congealed fat from the surface and rewarm gently, covered, over low heat.

Transfer the short ribs to a rimmed platter.  Pour the short rib braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or bowl.  Let stand until the fat rises to the top, then skim off and discard.  Transfer 2 cups of the braising liquid to a small saucepan (discard any remaining braising liquid).  Stir in the mustard, then bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil the sauce until it has reduced to ¾ cup, about 15 minutes.  Spoon the mustard jus over the short ribs, sprinkle the parsley over, and serve, accompanied by the warm beans.

Makes 6 servings

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