As the leaves begin to turn and the air takes on a crispness that whispers of autumn, my thoughts invariably drift to comfort foods that warm the soul as much as they satisfy the appetite. It’s during these moments that I, Bradley Schwarzenbach, find myself in the kitchen of Foodies of New England, inspired by the seasonal bounty and eager to share with you a dish that encapsulates the essence of this time of year: Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef.
This recipe is more than a mere method for preparing a meal; it’s a narrative of transformation. The humble short rib, often overlooked, becomes the star in a culinary tale that unfolds slowly, with the kind of patience that only the cooler months can afford us. The addition of cocoa is a nod to the complexity that we often seek in our fall dishes—a hint of bitterness that deepens into a rich, velvety backdrop for the robust beef.
Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef
- 1 large, heavy-duty pan
- paper towel
- 1 large sealed plastic bag
- 1 casserole-style dish
- 5 lb beef short ribs
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons coffee ground
- 1/2 cup cocoa Dutch & unsweetened
- 2 tablespoons five spice powder
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 bacon strips diced
- 1 onion medium, diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 3 celery stalks split lengthwise & diced
- 1.5 cups red wine dry
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1/2 can stout drink the remainder while prepping
- 2 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp stock
- 6 scallions for garnish bias cut
- Remove ribs from wrapping and pat dry with paper towel. Dust both sides with salt and pepper.
- Combine ground coffee, cocoa, five spice and garlic. Generously sprinkle on ribs or toss the mixture with the ribs in a large sealed plastic bag.
- Let ribs rest 4 to 8 hours in the refrigerator, but remember to take them out an hour before you begin cooking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 250°.
- On medium, pre-heat a large, heavy-duty pan. Sauté bacon, celery, onion and carrots in oil until vegetables become slightly softened (about 10 minutes).
- Remove vegetables from the pan, and sauté ribs on both sides until browned or have a crust.
- Add vegetables back in along with the wine, stock and beer. Cover and bake for 3 to 4 hours until ribs are fork-tender.
- Remove ribs from the broth and place in a casserole-style dish.
- Skim excess fat from the pot. On medium, warm the pot and whisk in the dissolved cornstarch. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. The sauce should seem thick, but feel free to adjust the viscosity with stock.
- Pour sauce over ribs, garnish with scallion pieces and serve.
Alternative methods for preparing Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef can offer a delightful variation on the traditional oven-braised technique, allowing for personal touches and adaptations to different cooking environments or dietary preferences.
One such alternative is to use a slow cooker. The gentle, consistent heat of a slow cooker is ideal for braising, and it allows for a more hands-off approach. There’s something quite comforting about assembling your ingredients, setting the slow cooker in the morning, and being greeted by the enticing aroma of short ribs when you return home. The slow melding of flavors over several hours results in a dish that’s both deeply satisfying and remarkably tender.
Another method is pressure cooking, which is perfect for those who want the same tenderness and depth of flavor but have less time to spare. A pressure cooker can reduce the cooking time significantly while still producing ribs that fall off the bone. There’s a sense of modern alchemy in using this method, as it feels almost magical how quickly it transforms tough cuts of meat into something sublime.
For those who prefer a more interactive cooking experience, there’s the option of stovetop braising in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. This method allows for more control over the braising environment, and the opportunity to adjust the heat as needed. The act of tending to the pot, checking the liquid level, and basting the Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef can be a meditative and rewarding part of the cooking process.
When the chill of the season beckons us indoors, there’s nothing quite like the kitchen’s embrace, where the act of cooking becomes a comforting ritual. As I prepare to share with you the secrets of making Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef, it’s with a sense of anticipation for the joy that this dish can bring to a table surrounded by loved ones.
The first tip I offer is to choose your short ribs with care. Look for well-marbled pieces; these will be the most tender and flavorful after their long, slow journey in the oven. The marbling is not just fat—it’s the promise of succulence, the assurance of a texture that will melt in your mouth.
Before the ribs ever touch the pot, they must be seasoned generously. Salt and pepper are just the beginning; consider adding a whisper of smoked paprika or a pinch of dried thyme to complement the cocoa’s depth. This is the foundation of flavor, and each spice is a thread in the tapestry we’re weaving.
Searing the Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef to a perfect crust is an act of patience and faith. Resist the urge to move them too soon; trust that they will release from the pan when they’re ready. This caramelized surface is crucial—it’s the alchemy of heat, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.
As for the cocoa, use it judiciously. A quality unsweetened powder is what you’re after, something that will infuse the dish with a complexity that’s as enigmatic as it is comforting. The cocoa doesn’t overpower; it enhances, lending a subtle bitterness that balances the richness of the meat.
Braising is a slow affair, a gentle simmer in a covered pot that fills the kitchen with an aroma that’s both grounding and uplifting. It’s here that the magic happens, where time becomes an ingredient just as important as any other. Allow the ribs to bask in the low heat, and they will reward you with tenderness.
Throughout the cooking process, remember to baste the ribs with their own juices. This self-basting is a small act of kindness, a way to ensure that every fiber of the meat is infused with flavor and moisture. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the simplest gestures yield the greatest results.
When it comes time to serve the Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef, the moment is ripe with anticipation. The dish you’ve nurtured is ready to be shared, and the serving suggestion I offer is designed to honor the richness of the flavors while creating a harmonious dining experience.
Imagine the short ribs, tender and glistening, nestled atop a bed of creamy polenta or buttery mashed potatoes. These smooth, mild bases provide the perfect counterpoint to the robustness of the meat, each bite a delightful contrast in textures. The polenta, with its subtle corn essence, or the potatoes, with their comforting familiarity, act as a canvas for the ribs, allowing the deep notes of cocoa and the savory braising juices to shine.
A bright, crisp side dish can be a refreshing companion to the meal. Consider a salad of peppery arugula dressed lightly with a lemon vinaigrette, or perhaps a medley of roasted root vegetables that echo the earthiness of the cocoa while adding a touch of sweetness. These sides are not just accompaniments; they’re an integral part of the experience, offering balance and lightness that elevate the entire plate.
For a touch of rustic elegance, garnish the Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a few sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary. The herbs whisper of the garden and the outdoors, bringing a freshness that cuts through the richness. Their fragrance is a subtle reminder of the natural world from which our ingredients are sourced, grounding us in the moment.
As you present the dish, do so with a sense of pride and joy. This is more than a meal; it’s a culmination of effort and care, a gesture of hospitality that speaks volumes. Encourage your guests to take their time, to savor each forkful, and to relish the company and conversation as much as the food.
FAQs about Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef
FAQs about Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef
- Can I use chocolate instead of cocoa powder in Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef? While chocolate can be used, it’s important to understand that it will introduce additional sugar and fat into the dish. Unsweetened cocoa powder is preferred for its pure, intense chocolate flavor without the sweetness, which complements the savory nature of the beef. If you do opt for chocolate, choose a high-quality dark variety with a high cocoa content and adjust the recipe to balance the flavors.
- How can I ensure my Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef are tender and not tough? Tenderness in short ribs comes from a combination of proper selection and correct cooking time. Look for ribs with good marbling, as the fat will melt during cooking, contributing to a tender result. Cooking the ribs slowly at a low temperature allows the connective tissues to break down properly. Patience is key; don’t rush the process, and you’ll be rewarded with meat that’s beautifully tender.
- Is there a particular type of cocoa powder that works best for braising short ribs? A high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder is ideal. Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated to neutralize its acidity and offers a smoother, more mellow chocolate flavor, which can be lovely in this dish. However, natural cocoa powder, which is more acidic, can also work well and provide a sharper contrast to the richness of the meat. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference.
- What can I do if the sauce is too thin after braising? If you find the sauce too thin, remove the ribs and set them aside to rest. Then, simmer the braising liquid over medium heat to reduce it to your desired consistency. You can also create a slurry with a small amount of cornstarch and water, and whisk it into the sauce to thicken it. Remember to cook the sauce for a few minutes after adding the slurry to eliminate any starchy taste.
- Can I make Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef ahead of time? Absolutely, and in fact, it may even taste better when made ahead. Braised dishes like this often develop deeper flavors when allowed to rest in the refrigerator overnight. Simply reheat the ribs gently in the oven or on the stovetop before serving. This also has the added benefit of allowing the fat to solidify on the surface, making it easier to remove if desired.
In conclusion, the journey through the world of Cocoa Braised Short Ribs of Beef is one that tantalizes the senses and warms the soul. Whether you choose to embrace the traditional oven-braising method or venture into alternatives like slow cooking, pressure cooking, stovetop braising, or even a finishing touch on the grill, each approach invites a unique expression of this classic dish.
For the readers who are always seeking new culinary adventures and inspirations, I encourage you to visit Foodies of New England at https://foodiesofnewengland.com/, where the passion for regional cuisine and the stories behind the food we love are celebrated. It’s a resource where the community of gourmands can share their experiences and continue to cultivate their palates.