Peasant Food & Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

CONFESSION.  I am cheating.  I am no longer faithful to recipes.  I alter, tweak, change, and these days, stuff in whatever vegetable that appears to be wilting in the confines of my vegetable drawers…much like how countless generations of people before me cooked.  And it dawned on me that this is a good subject for a short ode to Peasant Food.  Something beyond the quick recipes and foodie fun we’ve been having every day on Facebook and Instagram.

Original recipe clipped from the Chronicle (I believe).

Original recipe clipped from the Chronicle (I believe).

Rich in history and only recently rich in popularity (think 1960s forward), peasant dishes have achieved a “classical standing” first thanks to high-end restaurants and subsequently foodie leaders bringing these dishes back to our individual hearths.  Cooks, leaders, and writers like Julia Child, Chuck Williams, Ruth Reichl, Thomas Keller, Emeril, Lydia Bastianich, have popularized old-world dishes into contemporary favorites.  Dishes such as Cassoulet, Beef Bourguignon, Gumbo, Stir Frys, Minestrone, Pot Pies, hell, even the scrambles being served up creatively at Food Trucks across this great country.  These foods are a return to basics, to heart warming meals that I think subconsciously call to us from our culinary heritages regardless of ethnicity.  For these meals largely languished behind popular trends since mass marketing began to dominate our plates and our palates in the early 1900s.  Only committed foodies, cooks, and frankly, poorer communities kept these foods alive…often by necessity. And thank God they did.  This whole “food movement” and return to “eating clean” as we rabidly do here at Annadel, is really just a return to simpler times, a return to basics.  And peasant food — meals like the elementary “Stone Soup” cobbled together from bits of this and parts of that represent most of our culinary histories. And this red wine based recipe is part of that heritage and adapts well to whatever extra bits of this or that you have in your fridge.

When honing something for you food lovers, I keep a small notepad and pen close at hand for notes and thoughts.

When honing something for you food lovers, I keep a small notepad and pen close at hand for notes and thoughts.  *Note my temporary stove…

RED WINE BEEF SHORT RIBS

Ingredients:

  • 5-7 Bone In Beef Short Ribs (I leave them intact as the meat falls off the bone anyway).
  • 4-5 tblspn Olive Oil
  • 4 slices of bacon cut into 1-2″ slices
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 3 full heads of garlic somewhat trimmed of skin/tips and cut into halves
  • 4-5 carrots cleaned and coarse chopped
  • 5-6 celery stalks cleaned and chopped (ends trimmed too)
  • Any other wilting green, herbaceous vegetable in the western Europe vein…. For this evening’s version I added one leek and 4 old-ish tomatoes from the garden chopped up.
  • 2 tblspns all-purpose flour (optional)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 3-5 cups dry red wine ***This is an EXCELLENT way to use up left over wine from even months past.
  • 2 handfuls Italian parsley
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tblspn dried oregano
  • 1-2 tblspns fresh rosemary chopped (sticks removed)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3-4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

You will need a good sized oven-proof pot/lid or best, a Dutch Oven from Staub (my favorite) or Le Creuset.  Staub is sold at Sur La Table.

Preheat oven to 350’F.  DRY MEAT with a paper towel and salt/pepper each side.  Heat oil in the pot/dutch oven over medium+ heat and brown meat working in batches.  Transfer to a clean plate.

Browning the beef ribs.

Browning the beef ribs.

Add more oil if the well seems dry. Sautee bacon in the beef fat/oil until brown. Remove to beef plate.

Yay.

Yay.

ADD vegetables (not garlic) to the Bacon fat and sauté until the onion wilts.  Stir often!

Do your chopping prep work early.

Do your chopping prep work early.

Add in tomato paste and flour (if using).  BROWN the tomato paste stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.  Mixture will turn a deep red and then almost a “brick” color.  Stir in the wine and mix well.  Bring to a rapid simmer and reduce heat to medium-low.

Add the beef ribs and spoon the mixture up onto itself so its mixed up well and evenly distributed as a lovely jumble of goodness.  Pour in however much beef stock is needed to bring the liquid levels up to the top of the beef-vegetable mixture.  Bring back to a simmer and turn off heat.  Stir in the garlic and all herbs.

Mix in the bay leaves and garlic heads.  Plunge them into the mix evenly spaced. Cover and cook in the oven for 2.5 hours at 350’F.

Ready to go into the Oven ** Before I stirred in the herbs and garlic.

Ready to go into the Oven ** Before I stirred in the herbs and garlic.

Bring out.  Season with salt and cracked pepper.  Meat should be falling off the bone and your house smells AMAZING.  You could serve in shallow bowls over potatoes or with toasted country-style breads.  But we use a slotted spoon and transfer all the solids (meat, veggies, garlic heaven) to a pretty serving plate and garnish with more fresh chopped parsley.  Skipping the carbs.

Pair with a medium bodied dry red wine like our Annadel 2010 Meritage Estate Blend!

Note: I love more red wine than beef stock.