Butchers are like the rest of us. There are the good ones and there are the not so good. There are some worth marrying and some that deserve a life of loneliness. When it comes to the ‘lesser joints’, some butchers play a little on the ignorance of the buying public and sell them stuff that should really be going into the off cuts. Thankfully, there are many great independent butchers selling top quality meat. I believe that most of them are at least “in a relationship”. Butchers who are keen to educate their customers and are delighted to see people like me using the lesser cuts in different and interesting ways. So, when I encourage you to try this straightforward Beef Short Rib Stew, be sure you get the right ribs from the right butcher. It could lead to a beautiful romance and a long term relationship.
There is a fairly straightforward ingredients list with no surprises. A good stew needs a good base. The base of this stew is a mirepoix – an equal mix of onion, carrot and celery chopped up like in the picture. If you fancy it, you can do a big batch of this, par-cook it and freeze it. That will give you a head start on stew-making across the winter.
- 1.5 kilos of best quality beef short ribs
- 4 onions
- 1 bunch of celery
- 6 to 8 carrots
- 1 bulb of good garlic (yes, use the bulb)
- 1 litre of best quality beef stock. You should make your own and freeze it. Here’s a way to do it.
- Half a bottle of good quality red wine
- Half a tablespoon of tomato paste
- Salt and pepper
How can you tell that the ribs are good? Look at them. Are they made up of more than 50% fat and bone? If they are, change butcher. He wants your money, not a relationship. Have a look a the ribs in the picture below. If they look like that, let’s cook a stew together and see where it leads.
I trimmed off some of the thicker sinew and and parchment-like covering as shown in the picture. Don’t get rid of it all as it does help to add some flavour.
Season the beef well and brown it in a large casserole.
Take out the browned ribs. Make up the mirepoix and cook it in the casserole, with a little of the stock and wine, until the vegetables soften a bit.
Peel the garlic bulb but don’t get fussy about peeling the cloves. Pour the balance of the stock and wine into the casserole. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Sit the beef ribs on top.
Cover the casserole and cook it in a low oven (160ºC) for four and a half hours. The ribs on top will have partly steamed but also take on a lovely crust.
The bones will probably have fallen off the meat and the beef will be very tender. The sauce will be packed with flavour and goodness.
You will think of your butcher as a God. You will want to marry him/her. If you serve some of the stew to your butcher, they will want to move into your place (you can negotiate the pre-nup agreement yourself). However, if you buy from the other butcher (The one with the bad attitude), none of this can happen. In short, (That’s a play on words) get your ribs from a good butcher and live a long and happy life, possibly together.