Ya’ll know that Thomas Keller is my new boyfriend. Ever since Mark gave me his new cookbook, Ad Hoc, for Christmas, I’ve been spending hours and hours with him. And, let me tell you, he’s not a cheap date. So, the other day I decided to make his Braised Beef Short Ribs recipe. That was after I spent two days making his beef stock because the recipe calls for five cups of it.
Let me pause here to say that at the end of the post I’m going to pass along a way to take Thomas’s rather complicated and time-consuming recipe and dumb it down for people like me who don’t have seven hours to make supper.
So you start, or rather Thomas starts, with a red wine reduction. The recipe requires you to dump one 750-milliliter bottle of dry red wine into your pot. This almost killed me as it goes totally against my nature as a girl who loves her wine. But I did it anyway. Then you add onions, carrots, leeks, shallots, mushrooms, garlic and a bunch of herbs and you cook it for almost an hour until it reduces to a thick glaze.
This is all you get after an hour. And this is not even to mix up with the meat. This is to go under the meat. Not to mention the fact that you throw away all the vegetables. After you brown the short ribs, you then mix up more onions, carrots, leeks, garlic and herbs with the wine reduction. There is barely enough reduction to coat one carrot. You put the vegetables in the bottom of a Dutch oven, cover them with cheesecloth and lay the meat on top. You lay the meat on top. Not touching the wine reduction. Not touching the wine reduction that it took you an hour and $27 to make.
They were utterly delicious. However, I don’t know if they were seven hours worth of deliciousness. But I will make them again with some slight and lazy modifications. I will know how little meat a short rib has on it and find some more meaty specimens, probably at a local butcher rather than the grocery store. I will skip the whole red wine reduction entirely and drink a couple glasses instead. (I have a refrigerator magnet that says: “I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.” That’s pretty much how I feel about the subject.) I will brown the short ribs, put them in the pot, add about 1/2 cup of wine, the beef broth, some aromatics like carrots and onions, and herbs. I will use that parchment lid. That was a neat idea and it kept everything very moist.
I will celebrate the fact that Thomas Keller wants us to go the extra mile and produce as closely as possible his extraordinary food. But I’m not a very good girlfriend. I like him. He’s a great guy. I’m just not ready to go steady yet.