With those delicious bits of beef above as a starting point, I knew I was in for some meat eatin' satisfaction! I had been craving short ribs for weeks. As always with the onset of cooler weather, anything braise-y and beefy sounds like just what the body needs. Hey, you can't fight evolution. Well, you can, but then you end up as some whacked out creationism advocate...or Sarah Palin. Neither of which are good choices. So I fully embrace my carnivorous tendencies and the responsibilities that come from being atop the food chain. And some tender fall off the bone short ribs are one of the best ways to fulfill the destiny God has in mind for me (a little shout out there for all my God lovin' and fearin' readers).
I have one money recipe for short ribs, and almost did the usual, but then a search on epicurious turned up this southwestern version. It sounded good, and as a nod to those former red states taking a leap of faith and going all blue, I took the leap myself and threw this newfangled thing together the other night, and if I may, in a nod to my beer drinkin', truck drivin' readers, this is one fuckin' incredible plate 'o meat! The sauce is just off the hook, infused with an intense, not-too-spicy smokiness from the chilis. The meat was so insanely tender, too. To have something that requires minimal prep and basically cooks itself come out this good is about as good as it gets, eats wise. It's a crazy good world!
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Short Ribs Braised in Ancho Chile Sauce
Yield: Makes 4-6 servings
Active Time: 40 min
Total Time: 4 1/2 hr
4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and ribs discarded
2 cups boiling-hot water
1 medium onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon salt
6 lb beef short ribs or flanken
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup brewed coffee
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Soak ancho chiles in boiling-hot water until softened, about 20 minutes, then drain in a colander set over a bowl. Taste soaking liquid: It will be a little bitter, but if unpleasantly so, discard it; otherwise, reserve for braising. Transfer ancho chiles to a blender and purée with onion, garlic, chipotles with sauce, maple syrup, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon salt.
Pat ribs dry and sprinkle with pepper and remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown ribs in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer as browned to a roasting pan just large enough to hold ribs in 1 layer.
Carefully add chile purée to fat remaining in skillet (it will spatter and steam) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add reserved chile soaking liquid (or 1 1/2 cups water) and coffee and bring to a boil, then pour over ribs (liquid should reach about halfway up sides of meat).
Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and braise ribs until very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Skim fat from pan juices. Serve ribs with pan juices.
Cooks' note: Ribs improve in flavor if braised 2 days ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill, ribs covered directly with parchment or wax paper and roasting pan covered with foil. Remove any solidified fat before reheating.