Short Ribs Simmered with Potatoes and Mustard

Posted on 01/29/2010. Filed under: Dinner |

I have never eaten short ribs. I don’t think I have anyway. And I certainly have never cooked them. I knew it was a tough cut, and was a little hesitant when I came upon this recipe. How I decided on this was a very scientific method–I took out Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, flipped around while keeping my eyes closed and pointed at a page. I opened my eyes and my index finger was resting on this recipe (page 433 if you have the book). Reading it, I figured this would be a good dish this week because after our one warm day on Monday, Richmond’s damn cold this week. And SNOW! I freaking hate snow! Did I mention I grew up in Florida and snow holds zilch appeal for me? Well, Jim Duncan can keep it.

The ingredients were fairly easy to get my hands on: chicken/beef stock, S&P, dry red wine (and God knows I like to keep plenty of that on hand), baby waxy red or white potatoes, Dijon mustard, onion…and 3 lbs. of short ribs. I went to Kroger to get my ingredients…potatoes, check (baby Yukon golds, why not?); onion, check (tiny white one, Kroger had a shortage on singular onions); Dijon. My jar of Grey Poupon lived on the top shelf at the back of the fridge…and did you know that shit gets cold back there? Like, frozen! Mr. Old Jar of Fancy French Mustard went in the trash. Fortunately there wasn’t much in there.

I went to the man at the meat counter and asked about the short ribs. He not only was kind enough to say “No, we don’t got ’em,” but then proceeded to tell me how they just throw away that part of the chuck roast. In a very loud voice. Hey lady on aisle 6, didja hear that Kroger don’t got short ribs? It’s TRUE!

(Total aside…every time I say “It’s true!” I think of Lili Von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles–“It’s twue! It’s twue!” God, I love Mel Brooks.)

I asked the Meat Man where I could get some. Of course he had no idea. Because why would anyone possibly want such a tough piece of meat when you can just throw it away? Ugh….there was one place I knew would more than likely have it.

I was nervous about purchasing the short ribs at Whole Foods because I had no idea how much short ribs cost. Contestants on “Top Chef” use short ribs occasionally, and really anytime some ingredient is on the show it becomes in vogue and everyone and his mother want to make something with it. Especially since these people shop at Whole Foods.

I can’t tell you how many times customers would ask if Top Chef came into our Whole Foods. Really? Really?! Because they don’t film the show ANYWHERE near Richmond. And no, Emeril hasn’t come into my Whole Foods to cook in the middle of the damn store. Although I did serve egg salad to Sissy Spacek and that was kinda cool.

I was very pleased when I saw the price of the meat at Whole Foods–only$ 5.99 a pound! For reals, y’all, I was expecting to shell out more than $30 for three pounds of short ribs. WOO HOO! With tax, my total purchases were about $26 (not counting the $6 wine I already had thanks to Trader Joe’s, the salt and pepper, and love).

Bittman recommends using a Dutch oven. Which I happened to have. I asked for a cast iron Dutch oven a couple years ago for Christmas, thinking I’d make a ton of things in it. Yeah, this was the first time I’d used it. It’s lived on the shelves in my garage, still in the box. Oh well, at least I’m using it now.

The recipe calls for 2 cups of minced onion. I small diced my smallish onion and figured to hell with it, the amount of onion I had will just have to do. I browned my meat well on all sides and here’s where I have to stop and make a recommendation. When browning meat like short ribs, open a friggin’ window. Because it’s a smell that’s a bit…overpowering. Good, but overpowering. Once the meat was browned and had a nice crust on all sides, I took it out of the pot while I disposed of all but 2(ish) Tablespoons of fat to cook the onion in. And here’s another first for me, reserving a little bit of oil or fat and disposing of most of it. Especially from a hot as hell cast iron Dutch oven. Oh that was fun.  Another thing–blood comes out of the bones.  Yes it makes for a richer sauce but if you are not a fan of blood and/or grossed out by the thought of blood coming out of the bones I wouldn’t recommend making things that involve bones.  Just a way of how meat still on the bone works. 

I cooked the onions until they were translucent, added the beef back, added a cup of chicken stock (leftover from the mushroom soup), and let the pot simmer for about 30 minutes while I peeled potatoes.

I am not a fan of peeling potatoes, especially when they’re tiny. My fingers and nails get in the way if using a peeler, and I nearly peeled a fingernail off. I got out my trusty paring knife and slowly but surely peeled a pound of baby, itty-bitty potatoes. By the way, I suck at peeling with a paring knife. I always seem to take more off the potato than needed, but peeled those suckers I did. I added the potatoes to the already-crammed pot with not nearly enough liquid to cover everything, put the lid on it, let it simmer and do it’s thang for 30 more minutes.

Well, whaddya know, the meat wasn’t falling off the bone yet. Added wine to cover everything and let it simmer for another hour. After an hour the meat finally looked tender, took it and the taters out of the pot and poured the stock into another bowl to cool. Bittman says to let everything cool overnight so the fat can be skimmed off the top of the broth (good idea, there was quite a bit of fat).

And I just realized I made essentially beef stew. Sonofabitch! I’ve made beef stew before! Crap! Second assignment and I already kinda messed up. But the redeeming quality is I used short ribs, an ingredient I’ve never used before, so that’s something.

But I let everything cool overnight and brought it out the next day for dinner. I popped the fat off the top of the broth, cut the meat off the bones, and put it all back in the Dutch oven for more simmering. Cutting the meat I realized that it seemed a little tough still, so I thought I’d let it braise a little longer. I added three tablespoons of Dijon to the pot, stirred it up, and let it all simmer. It smelled wonderful and the addition of the Dijon didn’t make the dish seem as “Beef Stew-ish.” I wasn’t hungry, so I skipped out on fixing myself a bowl. My friend Matt stopped by and I made him try a small hunk of meat. He enjoyed it, liked how tender the meat had become, and thought I’d added oregano. My mom had some for dinner and she loved it. She thought it was a little salty, but then she doesn’t really salt anything either.

(Here’s where I took a long break from the dish….that involved a night of hanging out with Whole Foods friends, alcohol, and watching my former boss fall on her drunken ass…not once, but twice. Thank you, Jesus, for moments like these.)

I finally had the rest of the leftovers for dinner tonight, and heated up a couple of biscuits that were baked off last night. I have to say, the Dijon really did turn it into a dish I wasn’t expecting. It was a bit salty, but it wasn’t so much so that I wanted to drink a gallon of water. The meat was very soft and tender, the potatoes were really nice and took on the sauce very nicely at that point. And at the time I’d eaten it, it had become a thick sauce that coated the meat and potatoes well. It wasn’t a rich sauce in texture, but rich in flavor. The wine and mustard complemented each other very well and I think it was a good dish for a progressively-colder week.

Would I make it again? I’m not sure really. I was really reluctant about it before I added the mustard because I really don’t much care for beef stew or pot roast, which was what the dish was making me think of when I was making it. If I do make it again, it won’t be for a long time.

Where it all came from: short ribs from Whole Foods ($5.99 a pound!); potatoes, mustard & onion from Kroger; S&P from mah own kitchen, I used coarse Kosher salt; Swanson chicken stock (probably from Kroger too); Old Moon Zinfandel from Trader Joe’s


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3 Responses to “Short Ribs Simmered with Potatoes and Mustard”

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Love it, Shan, truly you write so eloquently (thank you Jesus), I’m cracking up. The dish sounds good especially as I am a mustard fan, I appreciate you sacrificing to buy a fresh jar of the stuff. I think peeling potatoes which was my job growing up in my Catholic family stunk then and stinks now, loss of our own skin is always involved. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

I used to buy short ribs when we were first married since they were very cheap back in the dark ages. I just bought some at BJ’s for $3.49/lb, and will make them for dinner tomorrow, starting the recipe tonight so I’ll have time to skim the hardened fat. I was inspired by reading your blog – you do write well – and the fact that my honey has twice brought home ready to heat short ribs from BJ’s at what I thought was a horrendous price for 3 small servings!
Keep up the good work!

[…] I cut two potatoes into quarters (lengthwise), as well as three leftover Yukon Golds from the Short Ribs dish.  Yes, my potatoes have eyes because I don’t use potatoes as much as I should.  Big deal, […]

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