Making smart food choices (making smart “any” choices, really) begins with understanding. What am I eating? What nutrients is it supplying my body? How am I preparing it? What effect does that preparation have on it’s nutritional value? These are not questions you have to ask yourself every time you put something in your mouth – lord knows this would get exhausting. But it’s good practice, and the more familiar you become with the foods you eat, the less often you’ll have to ask yourself these questions.
Case in point are these black rye IPA and bourbon short ribs (Note: cooking anything in beer or liquor makes it more interesting. Cooking it in “black” beer or bourbon simply makes it awesome). Short ribs are fatty – about as fatty as a cut of beef gets. Does that mean you can’t or shouldn’t eat them if you are a healthy, active person? Hell no. First, if you maintain a predominantly healthy lifestyle, the occasional indulgence in foods like short ribs won’t kill you, and more than anything, it’ll probably help keep you sane. But, being aware that you are eating a particularly fatty or calorie-dense food is a good place to start, and knowing that how you prepare it will also have an impact on your overall health is even better.
There are a couple steps through the cooking process of these ribs that can reduce the overall amount of fat in them. First, with any particularly fatty meat, you can start by trimming *excess* amounts of visible fat from their exterior. I say excess because you do not need to get all OCD and trim every last bit of fat you see – really. And I know that by suggesting the trimming of excess fat from meat before cooking, the meat purists out there that will hem and haw and cry blasphemy – that’s okay because these people will probably die from coronary artery disease before the rest of us, so we won’t have to listen to them for too long.
Next, this recipe calls for the searing of the outside of the short ribs before braising. Not only does this help increase flavor and texture of your finished ribs, it also removes some additional fat prior to braising. And finally, to cook the short ribs, you’ll braise them for about two hours. During the braising process, a very high percentage of the remaining fat will separate from the meat and bone. To avoid eating this fat there are two things you can do (both involve waiting – one of my least favorite activities in life). Place the ribs in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap or an air-tight lid for about an hour. The fat will separate from the rest of the sauce enough that you should be able to skim it off the top. Or if you are good at planning meals ahead of time, allow the ribs to sit in the fridge over night. The fat will almost completely congeal and separate, forming a layer on top of the sauce so thick you could host your very own Snoopy on ice. Skim this off and discard. Either way, reheat the entire pot and enjoy (occasionally).
-2 pounds beef short ribs
-1 shallot, sliced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 bulb fennel, sliced
-1.5 cups Black rye IPA (or other dark ale)
-1/3 cup bourbon
-juice from one orange
-.5 cups water
-1 bay leaf
-2 t flour
Total time: 2.5 hours (plus overnight – potentially)
To start, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven with lid. Add the short ribs, season with salt and pepper, and brown short ribs on all sides. Once browned, remove from heat and set aside. Discard excess fat, then add in the shallot, garlic, and fennel. Saute, allowing to cook about 5 minutes, stirring often. Once softened, add in two tablespoons of flour and stir well to combine. Add in the IPA and bourbon, bring to a boil and allow to simmer about 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, following directions on beef base for the amount of total liquid added (about 2 cups).
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very low simmer. Cover and allow cook about two hours. Beef should be very soft when pierced with a knife. If skimming the fat, allow the pot to cool in the fridge for about an hour and skim with a spoon, then reheat. Or chill over night. Serve with a stiff glass of bourbon.
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Recipe ID: 2018