Surviving Winter: Short Ribs, the Perfect Comfort Food

27 Feb

Short ribs braised cocoa five spice

One of the things I love most about winter is indulging in the kinds of substantial comfort foods that you wouldn’t necessarily want to cook or eat in the middle of summer – like braises that need to cook for several hours in a hot oven.

While I always really enjoy short ribs (Jenny and I even had them on the menu at our wedding), until a couple weeks ago I’d never actually cooked them at home. But when I found myself standing at the meat counter staring at racks of short ribs on a seriously cold day, I knew it was finally time to try them out.

This recipe started when Jenny suggested Chinese five-spice powder as an ideal flavouring for the ribs. I agreed, then immediately thought of cocoa powder as the ideal partner to five spice and wine in a braise. You’ll notice that the recipe below actually calls for red wine and beer. I was originally just going to use wine, but subbed in the beer when I realized we were short on leftover wine. The end result still turned out delicious, with the sweetness from the five spice and the earthy, smoky notes from the cocoa powder pairing perfectly with the flavourful ribs. I ended up cooking this in the oven for three hours, which produced an amazing, thick sauce, but made the ribs a bit too fall-off-the-bone for my liking. As a result, I’ve suggested braising for 2.5 hours in the recipe below… check it at that point and if it needs a bit more time, just pop it back in the oven to finish.

Short Ribs browning

Short Ribs Braised in Cocoa and Five Spice Powder

1 C red wine
1 C beer
3 C vegetable stock
2 TBS cocoa powder
2 TBS Chinese five spice powder, divided into 2 1 TBS portions
Chopped onion
Chopped fennel
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 C flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Chop ribs and dredge in flour mixed with 1 TBS five spice, and generous grinds of salt and pepper

Heat oil in a dutch oven or other large oven-proof pot over medium-high heat. When hot, sear ribs in small batches on both sides until browned. Remove ribs and set aside.

Turn heat to down to medium. Add fennel and garlic and sauté a few minutes until translucent. Add onion and sauté several minutes more until it becomes soft.

Add ribs back into pot. Stir in cocoa and 1 TBS five spice, then add wine and stock. Turn heat back up and bring everything to a boil for a couple of minutes.

Cover with lid and put in oven for 2.5 hours, or until fork tender.

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4 Responses to “Surviving Winter: Short Ribs, the Perfect Comfort Food”

  1. Farrah February 27, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Yum. Do you think one could sub a miami beef rib in the recipe?

    • Jing February 28, 2011 at 10:08 am #

      Short ribs are so yummy, particularly the chewy tendon part! Chinese five-spice is definitely ideal while being very versatile. My mother’s recipe calls for the use of a can of coke, and you should be able to braise anything with that, such as chicken or pork!

  2. holly March 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    totally made this recipe last night – substituted coke for beer, used a bit more cocoa and five spice, and used beef stock instead of veggie stock. all in all, kind of amazing!

    thanks for the recipe!

    3 hours later, finally done. Cocoa and Chinese five spiced braised short ribs, falling off the bone.

    A post shared by Holly 🍴 Foodmaker @ FMITK (@itsholly) on

  3. natalie February 3, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

    How many lbs. Of ribs? Recipe looks great!

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