I love making braised dishes because it allows me to make two meals in one night, that way I don’t have to cook for a long time the following day after work. Braising usually takes about 15 – 20 minutes up front preparing the dish, then for 4 – 8 hrs the dish just sits in a slow cooker. During that time I cook whatever meal I am eating that night and the next night I can just reheat the braised dish for dinner. One of my favorite braised dishes are beef short ribs, I love them so much I had to make a second post about them.
Instead of going with the traditional BBQ flavor, I decided to use a more exotic flavor with Mango, Black Pepper and Grilled Onions. Now I am all about big flavors, but please understand I didn’t make this dish entirely by scratch (I wasn’t mincing mango or anything), this entire dish was made from products purchased from Trader Joe’s. The root of my flavors come from an Organic Beef Broth, Black Pepper Sauce, Mango Ginger Habanero Sauce and a little Jack Daniel’s.
Whenever you make braised short ribs the first step is always the same, you have to sear your meat. Now in the previous post I dredged my ribs in a seasoned flour before searing because the flour was going to help create a crust and thicken the sauce. In this dish I am going to use corn starch later on to thicken the sauce so all I did was season the meat with kosher salt before searing it (sear so all sides have a nice golden grown crust over high heat).
Once the meat is seared remove it from the pan and let it sit in a large bowl. The pan will have a lot of brown bits which you want to deglaze with the Jack Daniel’s. WARNING – never deglaze with alcohol over an open flame, so the minute you remove the meat turn off the stove then immediately add about 1/4 cup of Jack Daniel’s (I never really measure so roughly 2 seconds of pouring JD into the pan). Using a whisk of a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits to deglaze the pan, which will add all of the beef flavor to the JD. After all the brown bits are dissolved, turn the stove back on and add in roughly 2 cups of beef broth. The reason you never deglaze with alcohol over an open flame is because the alcohol will instantly turn into vapor and an open flame will catch the vapor on fire… which basically turns your pan into a fire ball. It looks cool but it can also burn off your eye browse so be careful.
Once the pan is deglazed the next step is to prepare the slow cooker. Cut up two large yellow (or sweet) onions using a julienne cut, if you don’t know what a julienne cut is check out my post on the four ways to cut an onion. Add in the black pepper sauce and the mango ginger habanero sauce. Again, I don’t really measure but I base my quantity off of my understanding of flavor. The black pepper sauce is strong so you don’t need a lot whereas the mango ginger habanero sauce I used more because I want the sweetness to balance out the black pepper and the saltiness of the beef.
Add in the beef on top of the onions and sauce, then pour in enough beef stock to cover the onions but not the meat. From here you want to turn your slow cooker onto slow heat and cook for 6 hours. If you don’t have a slow cooker you can do the same thing in a lidded pot in a 250 degree oven, the slow cooker is just easier.
When the slow cooker is done cooking it will look like there is more sauce because it will almost cover the meat, but realize the onions cooked down so they take up less room and the drippings from the ribs added some volume to the sauce. The next step is to remove the meat and let it rest. Remove the cooked onions and set aside, you will be cooking the onions more on a pan to caramelize it (giving it a grilled onion flavor). Pour the sauce into a sauce pan and reduce it by 1/4 over high heat. Remove roughly 1/2 a cup of the sauce and put it into a bowl and place that into the refrigerator. You need to cool down that small amount of sauce so you can add corn starch to it to create slurry. A slurry is any cool liquid mixed with a starch which you can add into a sauce to thicken it up. You cannot pour corn starch into a hot liquid because it will clump up immediately before it can evenly disperse throughout the liquid… hence why you need to use a slurry. Instead of using water, which adds no flavor, cool down a little bit of the sauce and add in 3 – 4 Tbs of corn starch. Mix the slurry up well then add it into the hot sauce once it is reduced, it will thicken up into a good light gravy consistency. Once it is the right consistency and taste, remove it from the heat and set aside. Go back to the onions and grill them (cook them in a pan over medium heat) until they turn a nice light brown. Now you might wonder why we didn’t caramelize the onions before adding them to the slow cooker, the reason is because if the onions are cooked down that much then you put them in a slow cooker for 6 hours, they will literally cook down to the point where they dissolve. By cooking them initially int he slow cooker then caramelizing them after, you get the more well rounded flavor of onion because you get both the raw onion flavor and the caramelized onion flavor in the sauce, plus you get the nice grilled onion texture. Once the onions are done cooking, place them in a baking dish and place the meat on top, then pour the sauce/gravy on top.
At this point the braised beef short ribs are ready to eat, but this dish is best eaten the next day. The reason is because at this point the meat is very soft (fall-off-the-bone soft) so it is better to let the meat rest and cool down over night in the refrigerator. The next way when you reheat the ribs it will again soften up, but it won’t be too soft so you will be able to actually get a nice bite instead of having the meat fall apart before it hits your mouth. This dish goes perfectly either over rice, egg noodles or even by itself served with a french baguette.