Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Normally, I would spend the day with my mom, but my parents are on vacation in Argentina. When they first announced their plans, I was envious of all the beautiful leather shoes my mom would buy and the delicious steaks they’d eat. But as it happens, all of the pilots in Argentina went on strike this weekend.
Last week, my parents were in Patagonia, on a glacier, enjoying nature’s beauty and were supposed to catch a plane to Buenos Aires on Saturday for some shopping, eating and sight-seeing. Instead, they ended up on a 40-hour bus ride from the bottom of the earth back to civilization. And that’s how my mom spent her Mother’s Day. I don’t think I envy the beautiful leather shoes anymore. And the steak? Well, I made up for it by buying some thick and meaty short ribs of my own.
While my mom was taking in the beauty of the Argentine countryside, I was braising those short ribs for my Nana. If you ever want to make someone feel special, make them short ribs. They’re fall off the bone, melt in your mouth, barely even have to chew, decadent and delicious. And the leftovers will be finding their way into a nice, crusty baguette tonight. I can barely wait!
Espresso and Pasilla Braised Short Ribs
I served these over creamy, Parmesan polenta which I highly recommend. They were topped with a crown of arugula, drizzled with a touch of good olive oil and a tiny pinch of salt.
1 tsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
6 large, meaty short ribs
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 2 dried pasilla peppers, seeds removed and diced
1 cup brewed espresso
1 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 tbsp. honey (or sugar)
Preheat the oven to 250°. Place a very large, very heavy pot over medium heat (I used my 7.5-quart Le Creuset) and add the oil. Since you want to get a nice, dark sear on the ribs, make sure the pot is large enough so that they ribs won’t be overcrowded. Once the oil is hot, lay the ribs in the pan, bone-side-up.
Sear the ribs by leaving them undisturbed for 5 – 7 minutes on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. You’ll want a pinch of salt on all sides – the total should be about 1 tbsp. The searing part will take 25 – 35 minutes depending on the size of your ribs and will most likely make a mess of your stovetop. It’s ok.
Once the meat is seared on all sides (brown and crisp-looking), remove them to a plate. Reduce the heat a bit to medium-low, then add the onions, garlic and pasilla peppers. Cook for 15 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the espresso, wine and honey. Cook for 5 minutes, until the liquid begins to boil, then remove from heat.
Add the ribs back to the pot, cover and place in the center of the oven for 3 hours, turning the meat every 45 minutes or so. After the 3 hours are up, remove the pot from the oven and let it stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and spoon the dark onion bits over the ribs.