A hearty, soul-satisfying dish, these short ribs have a classic New England feel, says April Gibson, executive chef at The North House in Avon. “This cut of beef is rich, simple, cost-effective and quite versatile,” she says. “Pretty much anything goes with it — you can serve it with rice, mashed or roasted potatoes, or au gratin. While braised dishes are more prevalent in winter, it’s good for any season.”
At The North House, Gibson uses her culinary expertise to turn basic ingredients into a delectable dish. “While most people (and chefs) go for extravagance, they tend to lose sight of simplicity, and how challenging it can be to make something simple look appealing and beautiful,” she says. “You don’t need exotic ingredients to be good. Taking your time and having patience is key to a dish like this.”
While the ribs can’t be whipped up in a matter of minutes, Gibson says it’s well worth the time, “considering most of the time it’s in the oven, you can do other things.” Once the meat is cooking, a home cook has many options. “I like to cook, so I make special things with it all the time. I use it in soups and stews. Sometimes I shred the meat and toss it in with some risotto. I’ve paired it with pasta and gnocchi. I’ve even added different seasonings, such as chimichurri sauce, toasted chili powder, cumin, and some cayenne powder to make tacos with it,” she says. “The possibilities are endless, and anyone can make this.”
Makes six 8-ounce portions • Time: 5 hours
3 pounds chuck flap beef
Salt and black pepper, to taste
6 ounces canola oil
5 carrots, peeled and largely diced
3 onions, largely diced
1 head celery, largely diced
1 gallon beef stock
12 ounces Burgundy wine (brand doesn’t matter, just a nice pinot noir; Gibson uses Peter Vella)
3 fresh bay leaves (2 dried bay leaves can be used)
12 ounces canned tomato paste
Trim any excess fat and cartilage from the beef and cut it into 8-ounce portions.
Season generously with salt and black pepper.
Place beef in a large sauté pan. Depending on the size of your pan, use enough oil just to coat the bottom of the pan (6 ounces generally works for an 18-inch pan). Sear each side on medium-high heat for 2 minutes to brown all sides, including the edges (use tongs to turn). The meat should have a deep-brown crust. Remove from the pan and place it into a large roasting pan. Set aside.
In the same sauté pan, add the vegetables, tomato paste and bay leaves. Cook the mixture on medium heat, stirring so the paste does not burn, for about 7-8 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine and add beef stock (pull the small bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan up and into the sauce). Cook for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat. The consistency should be slightly thickened and reduced, but not gravy-like, just enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Pour the wine/stock mixture over the beef. Cover with plastic wrap first, then aluminum foil. This will limit evaporation and seal in moisture. The foil will prevent the plastic from melting.
Cook for about 4 hours at 350 degrees. Leave it alone. If the meat is mostly covered with the braising liquid, it will be fine. After 4 hours, check the beef. If it is spoon tender, it is done.
At The North House, an 8-ounce portion is served over mashed potatoes garnished with crispy fried leeks and gremolata (grated citrus zest). An alternate ending to the recipe is to purée the vegetables and braising liquid to make a thick, rich gravy, but Gibson prefers keeping them separate.