Braised Short Ribs with Swiss Chard and Polenta


Isn't it funny how you can pass something up, not paying it any attention, dozens of times, and suddenly, this something catches your eye and you want it?  I'm not talking about the She's All That phenomenon because this is a food blog, and I've never seen that happen in real life, anyway.  What I am talking about is the dinner I made last week, braised short ribs.  They were featured on Pioneer Woman's site not too long ago, and I have seen them a few other places.  For some reason for the last few weeks they were the only dinner I wanted to make, and yet I had a few recipe variations that I had read and never marked to make.  They epitomize cooler weathe cooking in my mind- warm food that is slowly cooked and served over a soft starch (in my case, polenta). 

If you've never had short ribs, you are in for a treat!  They're small but so full of meaty flavor, and when they are slow cooked it falls right off the bone.  You may just say they'll change your life for the better.  They're also the food gout is made of, so don't eat them too often.  When they're served over polenta, well, it's delicious, and looks like you just dined at a nice restaurant.

Most braised short rib recipes call for red wine to be added as the chief braising liquid.  I confess I'm still scared to cook with wine.  I worry that the taste will make me want to gag when all is said and done.  That comes from an experiement in my earlier days.  Knowing that you should never cook with what is labeled as "cooking wine," I wanted to find a recipe that utilized something other than wine.  I turned to a recipe that was in the March 2010 issue of Cooking Light, which was the first issue I had ever received.  Their version looked pretty good, and no red wine! 

The changes I made to this particular recipe were to substitute the egg noodles for creamy polenta and to add swiss chard to increase the healthiness and to substitute beef broth for the water as the cooking liquid. 

The verdict: yes, I'd make this dish again, but I realize I have some room to improve.  The braising liquid and the taste of the overall dish was great, but the ribs were not fall off the bone tender.  I can only speculate that this could be because the ribs were braised on top of the stove pot or because I didn't use a dutch oven (I don't have one).  Also, I ended up making the polenta way too early, which made it a little too starchy/gummy at serving time. 

The recipe posted below is as I made it.  To see the original recipe, click on the link at the recipe. The way I prepared it will serve 3 hungry adults or 4 lighter eaters.  As always, if you make this dish or have any suggestions or questions, post in the comments section (do this by clicking on the speech bubble with a number inside at the top of the post). 

Braised Short Ribs
adapted from Cooking Light

2 lb. beef short ribs, trimmed
Kosher salt (approx. 1 Tb)
Ground pepper (freshly ground, approx 1/4 tsp)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2-3 Tb. olive oil
1-2 large carrots, chopped
1/2 c. chopped onion (approx. 1/2 onion)
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 Tb. tomato paste
2 1/2- 3 cups beef broth

Sprinkle the short ribs with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Add ribs to pan and cook four minutes, turning occasionally.  You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan.  If so, add oil each with each new batch but do not clean the pan.  Once all ribs are browned and back into the pan, add the beef broth and scrape to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 1 hour and 45 mintues or until the ribs are fork tender.  Remove the beef from the pan and cover to keep warm.  Pour the liquid from the pan into a bowl. 

Return the skillet to medium heat and add another Tb of oil.  Add the onion and carrot and cook four minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and cook 30 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add tomato paste and stir frequently for 30 more seconds.  Stir in reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 6 minutes or until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Swiss Chard
1 bunch swiss chard, rinsed, trimmed off its stalk and rough chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1-2 Tb. olive oil
Salt, to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add chard and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender.  Drain chard; squeeze out excess water.  Heat the same pot or a pan over medium heat, adding the oil and the garlic.  Take care the garlic doesn't burn!  Add the chard and saute 3-4 minutes longer, until wilted.  Salt to taste.

Creamy Polenta
adapted from Rachael Ray

1 cup polenta (yellow grits)
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 Tb fresh sage, chopped (optional)
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil or butter

Using about 1-2 Tb olive oil or butter, heat a medium pot over medium-high heat and saute the sage in the butter until it is aromatic, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the liquids and bring to a boil.  Whisk in polenta and stir until thickened, about 5 mintues.  Add the nutmeg and cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

*Note- I used about 1-2 oz of grated smoked gouda cheese in my polenta as well.  If you like things extra cheesy, you could add in almost any flavor of melting cheese you like.

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