This is a dish you would pay for in a restaurant (and I have) but can make at home. I learned the techniques in the Napa Rose Cooking School to make this dish. It takes a long time to prep and is a bit expensive (the veal demi-glace is $25) but is definitely worth it. The best part is you can make it in advance, cook it the next day and it tastes even better. It is wonderful with any side dish, but I found that pan roasted sweet corn kernels go particularly well with it.
The recipe calls for a zinfandel and if you substitute a different wine, make sure it is fruit forward and low in tannins. I used Wilson Creek 2006 Estate Zinfandel when I made it. Whatever wine you use, make sure it is one you would be happy to drink.
6 bone-in short ribs, English style (where the ribs are cut parallel to the bone, I had to ask my butcher to cut these specially as they usually cut them flanken style)
1/4 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, coarsely sliced
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 bottle of red Zinfandel, 750 ml.
4 cups veal demi-glace (see here for where to find frozen demi-glace, four cups is two pounds)
2 cups chicken stock
14 ounces frozen blackberries, thawed (no need for fresh here as the berries themselves do not appear in the final product)
1/2 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
5 sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh blackberries for garnish
- Remove short ribs from refrigerator and season one hour before cooking.
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan on medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown short ribs on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add the onion, carrots and fennel to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and slowly brown the vegetables (make sure the vegetables are thoroughly browned stirring only occasionally).
- Add the wine and deglaze the pan (i.e., scrape all the browned bits of goodness from the bottom). Simmer until wine has been reduced to where it is almost gone (about 80%).
- Transfer mixture from sauté pan to large stock pot. Add short ribs, veal demi-glace, chicken stock, blackberries, thyme and sage. There should be enough liquid to cover the ribs by at least 2 inches. If not, add more chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until ribs are tender (3 – 3 1/2 hours).
- Allow ribs to cool to room temperature in the liquid (aproximately 1 hour). Remove ribs from pot and, if desired, remove bones from ribs. Return pot with liquid to stove and simmer until reduced to sauce consistency. Check the consistency of the sauce by dipping a metal spoon in and drawing your finger across the back. If the sauce stays in place on either side of where you wiped it away (this is called napé), you’ve achieved the right consistency. If not, continue simmering until it does. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.
- After the sauce is reduced adjust seasoning as necessary. Pour liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a container with the short ribs. Refrigerate short ribs in sauce overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place short ribs and sauce into a pan that will ensure the ribs are covered in the sauce. Bake until hot (30 minutes).
- Allow one short rib per serving and ladle some sauce on top.