Confession: I have been sleeping with the Lee Brothers these past two weeks-- I mean The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. Their adventures and stories of growing up in the South is very entertaining. I have prepared since, their different versions of grits, the bird’s head biscuit, and have a couple of jars of the Pickled Peaches in my pantry. By the way, the bird's head biscuit-- the best biscuit I ever had! And that’s saying a lot since I live in the South and have had my ample share of biscuits
Today, I am making their Texas Red-Braised Beef Short Ribs, which is mole-based. I am in the process of developing my personal mole recipe, after sampling the tastiest Guatamalan Tamale Negro from a hole in the wall Mexican Tienda in Buford Highway. I love this tamale so much; I had been driving 16 miles per way every Saturday to get my fix.
Back to the Texas Red-Braised Beef Short Ribs. It’s very, very good, definitely a keeper. I served it with oven-roasted calabash squash with chocolate and kale I stir fried with garlic in coconut oil.
From The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
For 6 people
Time: 1/2 hour preparation, 2 to 2-1/2 hours cooking
3-1/2 pounds flanken-style beef short ribs
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
3 large yellow onions, peeledand quartered
8 garlic cloves, husks removed
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups beef broth (one 14.5-ounce can)
3 sticks cinnamon
3 ancho chiles, torn in half, stemmed, and seeded
3 pasilla chiles, torn in half, stemmed, and seeded
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Up to a day in advance, season the short ribs with 2 teaspoons salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Place the onions and garlic in a 9-by-13-inch roasting pan. Drizzle 2 teaspoons oil over them and turn with a spatula to coat. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper over them and broil about 3 inches from the flame or heating element for 8 to 10 minutes, until the garlic skins have blackened and the onions have charred slightly.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat. Place the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large cast-iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the chiles and toast them on all sides, turning them with tongs until they are soft, fragrant, and slightly lighter in color, about 30 seconds. With tongs, transfer the chiles to the hot broth. Cover and let stand until completely soft, about 6 minutes.
Turn the heat under the skillet to high and heat until the oil remaining in the skillet just begins to smoke. Add several short ribs, making certain not to crowd them in the pan. Sear them, turning once their surfaces are browned, about 3 minutes, until they are richly browned on both sides. Remove with tongs and reserve. Repeat with the remaining ribs, in batches, until all the ribs are browned. Turn off the heat.
When the garlic has cooled, remove and discard the skins. Transfer the garlic and the onions to a food processor or blender. Add the tomatoes and process to a smooth puree, about 2 minutes. Reserve in a bowl. You should have 4 cups.
Add the chiles and broth to the processor or blender and puree until smooth, about 2 minutes. You should have about 2-1/2 cups. Add as much chile puree to the vegetable puree as you wish to achieve the degree of flavor and heat you prefer (we always add it all). Stir to incorporate thoroughly, and season to taste with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate (don't worry if they don’t melt immediately; they will melt in the oven).
Place the short ribs in the roasting pan and pour the "red" sauce over them. Add the cinnamon sticks. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours, or until the ribs are tender and falling from the bone. Skim any fat floating on the surface.
Serve the ribs on plates with a ladleful of sauce.
Cocoa and Cayenne
1 medium calabash squash, halved, seeded
1 t canola oil for drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 T good cocoa powder
1 t ground cayenne pepper
Heat oven to 375°F. On a baking sheet, drizzle oil over squash. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, coat the squash evenly with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until tender. Set aside and let cool enough to handle. Scoop flesh, mash with fork, working in the chocolate and cayenne, adding just enough warm water so you get a smooth consistency.