Fine Cooking (February/March 2010)
Fine Cooking has what has become our favorite magazine feature over the past few months with its "Cooking Without Recipes" column.
It's an excellent blueprint for a dish, in which a basic recipe is presented and the reader is left to choose add-ins, flavorings and spices.
Since then the magazine has done guides for multiple topics, including how to make Creamy Vegetable Soups, Chocolate Truffles, and a host of other topics. The column in the April/May issue, which just arrived, features Cheesecake. We like the features themselves, but we especially love that the magazine offers online interactive versions of these columns on their website that spits out the recipe you've created after walking you through each step.
We sat up and took notice when the February/March issue of the magazine arrived and "Cooking Without Recipes" featured Short Ribs.
Make your own short ribs recipe? Twist our arms!
The most difficult part of cooking from this feature is choosing which short ribs to make. Of the thousands of recipes you could concoct with the guide, the magazine suggests six, including Red-Wine Braised, Tuscan and Provencal. Each recipe has the same steps: sear the ribs, cook the aromatics (such as onions, carrots, etc.) and spices of your choosing, deglaze, add braising liquid, braise for two and half hours or so, finish and serve.
We opted to try the Tunisian-inspired ribs, which uses onions and carrots as the aromatics, and then star anise, cinnamon sticks, dried figs, ginger and garlic as the spices. The ribs are braised in red wine, crushed tomatoes, soy sauce and chicken broth, and then finished with a garnish of mint and parsley.
(In truth, we originally planned to do two versions of short ribs. Zach's parents were visiting and our friends Drew and Ralph were joining us for dinner. So we'd thought it would be fun to make a version suggested by the magazine, and then improvise an Asian spin on short ribs. We bought the ingredients for this second version, but after a day of touring our nation's capital, we decided to simplify and just make one version of ribs, lest we find ourselves sitting down to dinner at midnight.)
Anyway, this Tunisian-inspired spin on short ribs more than made up for not having a second version to serve (which may have been weird anyway). The flavor of dried figs was wonderfully pleasant in the finished ribs and the garnish of mint and parsley added even more wonderful flavors to the dish.
So we didn't get to make our Asian twist on short ribs. But we will soon.
In the meantime, you can build your own, as well.
Other short ribs recipes:
Tunisian Inspired Braised Short Ribs
Made Using Fine Cooking's Braised Short Rib Builder (February/March 2010)
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- 4-1/2 to 5 lb. English-style beef short ribs (8 to 12 ribs)
- 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- ground black pepper
- 1 cup medium-diced carrots
- 1 cup medium-diced onions
- 2 to 3 whole star anise
- 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 cup coarsely chopped dried figs
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 3/4 cup dry red wine
- 3/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth
- 1 to 2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh mint
- 1 to 2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium heat. Season the ribs with 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Add half of the ribs to the pot (or as many as will fit without overlap), and cook, turning with tongs, until nicely browned on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the ribs to a platter and repeat with the remaining ribs. Pour off all but a thin layer of fat from the pan.
Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, carrots and onions to the pan. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the aromatics are soft and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add star anise, garlic, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and chopped dried figs, and cook, stirring, until well distributed and fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour the 1/2 cup red wine into the pot and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, until the liquid is reduced to about 2 Tbs., about 1 minute.
Transfer all the ribs (and any juices that have accumulated) back into the pot. Pour the red wine, tomatoes, chicken broth, and soy sauce and 1 cup water over the ribs and using tongs, arrange the ribs as evenly as possible and no more than two layers deep.
Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover, and put the pot in the oven. Cook, turning the ribs with tongs about every 40 minutes, until they are fork tender, about 2-3/4 hours. (The meat may fall off most of the bones about midway through cooking; this does not mean that the ribs are fully tender.)
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve the ribs with the sauce spooned over, sprinkled with chopped mint and chopped parsley.