Influenced by his Southern roots, Jan Birnbaum braises short ribs (that have been marinated overnight) in this classic gravy made with strong brewed coffee.
Plus: More Beef Recipes and Tips
3 cups basil leaves and small sprigs
15 garlic cloves, halved
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 pounds meaty beef short ribs, cut crosswise across the bone
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/4 cup pure olive oil
2 tablespoons Jan's Spice Mix
4 large onions, coarsely chopped
4 jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
1 pound plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cups dry red wine
1 quart strong brewed coffee
3 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
In a food processor, puree the basil and garlic. With the machine on, slowly add the extra-virgin olive oil until blended. Arrange the ribs in a large roasting pan and pour the basil marinade over them. Turn the ribs to coat, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
In a small skillet, toast the cumin seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool completely, then grind to a powder.
Scrape most of the marinade off the ribs and reserve. In a large enameled castiron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the pure olive oil. Season the ribs with Jan's Spice Mix. Add half of the ribs to the casserole and cook over moderate heat until browned, turning once, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining pure olive oil and ribs.
Add the onions to the casserole; cook over low heat until softened, about 15 minutes. Increase the heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes longer. Add the jalapeños, cumin and the reserved marinade; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over moderately high heat until almost dry, 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes.
Add the coffee, stock and bay leaves and return the ribs and any accumulated juices to the casserole. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat until very tender, skimming the fat from the surface occasionally, about 2 hours.
Transfer the ribs to a platter and discard the bay leaves. Discard the bones and trim the ribs of excess fat, keeping the meat intact. Boil the gravy over high heat, stirring, until reduced to 6 cups, 12 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar and tomato paste; season with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the gravy, cover and simmer for 5 minutes before serving.
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