Scott Dolich, the chef and owner of Portland, Oregon's Park Kitchen restaurant and an F&W Best New Chef 2004, loves beef short ribs for their versatility. "It's a great cut for dinner parties," he says. "You can braise the short ribs a day or two in advance and warm them in the oven when you need them." Dolich simmers the short ribs in an aromatic sherry-infused broth, then pairs the meltingly tender meat with an ersatz risotto, replacing the rice with diced potatoes and apples.
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Generously season the short ribs with salt, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. Bring the ribs to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add 4 of the short ribs and cook over moderately high heat until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining short ribs.
Add the onions, apples, garlic, carrot and celery to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Scrape the vegetables into the roasting pan. Add the sherry to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato puree, bay leaves and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Pour the mixture over the short ribs. Cover the roasting pan with foil and bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, until the meat is very tender.
Transfer the short ribs to a platter and cover with foil. Strain the cooking liquid through a coarse sieve set over a large saucepan, pressing on the solids and pushing the vegetables through as much as possible. Skim off the fat with a ladle. Boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set 2 short ribs on each plate and coat with sauce. Serve the Potato-Apple "Risotto" alongside.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Discard the fat on the surface and reheat, covered, in a 350° oven until warmed through, about 30 minutes.
Look for an acidic red that can cut through the saltiness of the braising liquid and the risotto. Try a silky, fruit-filled cru Beaujolais.
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