Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Cocoa and Star Anise – Recipe

This year – 2012 – short ribs were eatured as the main dish on my Christmas Eve dinner table.  I love short ribs and I couldn’t think of anything else to make for this dinner.  Of course, I had to try a new recipe because I wasn’t in love with any of the ones I made before, plus I always like trying new things.

I think this recipe was quite successful.  I’m not ready to say it was the best short rib recipe I’ve ever made, but it definitely was tasty and the sauce was delicious – both with the short ribs and the garlic mashed potatoes I served it with.  The sauce was definitely rich and well balanced.  The ribs, btw, were succulent and fall-off-the-bone tender.  Regardless of what recipe I use in the future, I will cook them in this manner.

I made the short ribs the day before, not only because I don’t want to be crazy cooking on Christmas Eve, but because braised short-ribs are always better the next day.

I got this recipe from Chuck Hughes of the Cooking Channel (I had never heard of either, I found it through Google) and I modified it slightly.  I used a roasting pan for this dish, as I had nothing else that was large enough for the ribs and veggies.  I placed it on the stove over two burners.

It will serve 6 people.

Ingredients

  • 8 meaty short ribs
  • coarse salt
  • flour for dredging
  • canola oil
  • 4 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ cylinders
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bottles red wine
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Trim excess fat from the ribs.  Season well with coarse salt.  Dredge in flour.

Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with Canola oil and place on the stove over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the short ribs and brown on all sides.  Remove and set aside.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, rosemary, thyme, star anise and cinnamon sticks to the pan.  Cook until they caramelize, stirring frequently.  Return meat to the pan and pour wine over the ribs.  If they are not completely covered, top with water.

Mix in cocoa power, brown sugar and peppercorns and bring to a boil.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil, put in the oven, and cook for 3 hours.

Carefully remove ribs, and set aside.  Strain out the braising liquid into a large cooking pot.   Discard the veggies.

Place the pot on the stove and boil over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced by about 1/3rd.  Return the short ribs to the pot.  Cool and then refrigerate until the next day.

When ready to reheat (30 to 60 minutes before serving), place the pot on the stove over medium heat and cook uncover until the liquid starts boiling.  Stir to make sure the short ribs are moist all over.  Cover and turn the heat down to a simmer.

Five minutes before serving, remove the ribs and place on the serving platter.  Cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm.  Taste the liquid, adjust seasoning and reduce further if needed to make it more intense.  Add butter and serve with the ribs or on the side.

Marga’s 2012 Christmas Eve Dinner


Wine Braised Short Ribs

I decided to make short ribs for my 2011 Christmas Eve dinner because I’ve run out of new cuts of meats to try.  I’ve done a standing rib roast, a boneless prime rib roast, roast beef, beef Wellington (twice!), rack of lamb, lamb leg, filet mignon roast and goose.  I’m sure I made a turkey once upon a time as well.  I wanted something different!  Short ribs came to mind because, well, they are delicious.  I thought my dad would be coming and I knew he would very much like them.  Alas, he couldn’t make it but the dish still proved a winner – very tasty and something you can make in advance.

I basically made the epicurious.com recipe for Short Ribs Provencale skipping the baby carrots and the olives.  I increased the quantities a bit, using a little over 8lbs to serve 5 adults and 3 children.  I served them over mashed potatoes, a great combination.

The key to these melt-in-your mouth short ribs is nicely browning them before braising them, and then braising them *slowly*.

Wine Braised Short Ribs

  • 8 lbs short ribs
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, each clove individually peeled
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. herbes de Provence
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 275F

Trim short ribs of excessive fat.  Dry them and generously season them with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe pot over medium-high heat.  Add several short ribs, making sure to not overcrowd the pan.  Brown on all sides, remove, set aside and repeat with the rest of the short ribs.

Reduce the heat to medium low.  Add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the garlic, herbes de Provence and flour and cook for about a minute.  Add the red wine, bring to a boil and scrape off the pieces of meat stuck to the pan.  Add the broth, tomatoes and bay leaves and mix well.  Return the short ribs to the pot, and pour in any juices left on the plate.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and put in the oven.  Cook for about four hours, stirring from time to time.

Remove the pot from the oven and let cool for about an hour.  Place in the fridge and refrigerate overnight or up to three days.  Remove, uncover and spoon off the layer of fat that has accumulated on the top.  Discard.  Recover the pot and place in a 300F oven until warm.

Remove short ribs from the pot and place in a serving dish.  Keep warm.  Remove bay leaves and discard.  Put pot on the stove, uncovered, and boil over medium-high heat until it reduces somewhat.  Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with the short ribs.

Marga’s 2011 Christmas Eve Menu

Marga’s Favorite Recipes


Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Pureed Vegetables

This epicurious.com recipe is quite good and simple to make.  Most importantly, I had all the ingredients to prepare them at home, the only thing I had to buy were the short ribs (on sale at Lucky’s for $3 lb).  I’d made the recipe before and liked it quite a bit then.  It was very good this time too, though I would have liked to cook the short ribs for another hour (alas, I didn’t have the time).  No matter, the kids didn’t eat any so I have enough leftovers for another dinner – I’ll just add some wine & chicken broth to the sauce and give them that extra cooking hour before we eat them next time.  To give yourself plenty of time to make this, start it 4 hours before you want to serve it.

I followed this recipe quite closely, though I used considerably less liquid as my pot was full.  I still ended up with way too much sauce.

I served this with mashed potatoes and it was very, very yummy.

Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Pureed Vegetables

  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp. coarse salt
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves
  • 4 – 5 lbs beef short ribs
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 bottle red wine

Instructions

Put the peppercorns, bay leaf, salt, rosemary and sage in a food grinder, and grind until well combined.  Rub the mixture all over the short ribs, set aside.

Heat the oil in a wide, large pot over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, brown the short ribs on both sides. Remove short ribs and set aside.  Pour off the oil and discard.  Put the pot back on medium heat and deglace with the chicken broth, scraping all the browned bits from the bottom.  Turn off heat, pour broth into a bowl and reserve.

Add the olive oil to the pot and heat over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute until browned, about 12 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and sauté 2 minutes.  Add the reserved chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  Return the short ribs and any accumulated juices to the pot.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.

Remove short ribs from pot and set aside.  Working in batches, pour the sauce into a blender and puree until smooth.  Return sauce to the pot and boil until it has a thick consistency.  Return the short ribs to the sauce and cook over medium heat until the short ribs have heated through.

Marga’s beef recipes


Horatio’s restaurant – San Leandro – Updates

There aren’t many good restaurants in San Leandro – and most of these are very expensive. Horatio’s may be the most expensive of these all, but they have discounts from time to time (including a buy 1/get 1 free dinner coupon that they e-mail you for your birthday, if you sign up with their club), so we go a couple of times a year. We love the location in the San Leandro Marina, it’s a great place to see the sun set.

The food is generally good, but it can be inconsistent. We’ve usually had good experiences, but the same cannot be said of our some of our friends. Here I include the updates of the original review I wrote many, many years ago.

May 2011 update

Once again we went to Horatio’s for my birthday armed with one of those coupons. We got there around 7 on a Friday night and the place was rocking, fortunately we were able to sit in the lounge (at the last remaining table).

Horatio’s has changed its menu somewhat, gone is the burger that I had the last few times, and added some smaller plates. Entrees continue to be very expensive, in the 20’s, for plates of food that are not particularly impressive. This time we skipped appetizers (their focaccia bread is great and I wasn’t super hungry) and went straight for the main dishes. I had the short ribs from the specials menu (~$26) and Mike had some fish. The plate of short ribs was rather plain, it consisted of two boneless short ribs without any braising liquid to speak of, some mashed potatoes and some broccolini. It didn’t seem like much food to begin with, but the short ribs were substantial and surprisingly lean. They were tender and juicy and quite good, but not really extraordinary. I’ve made better short ribs many times. The dish was fine, but not worth the price. The same can be said about Mike’s fish. This was a much less substantial dish, and while the fish was nice and flaky, the sauce was delicate and not very exciting. It came with some strange tubular vegetable that wasn’t too appealing. I think Horatio’s needs to put some more care into its side dishes. If instead of plain veggies, it provided something more interesting, the dishes might be worth the price.

Service was great, however. Our waiter brought us a complimentary creme brulee dessert with a candle, which I thought was very sweet.


July 2010 update.

Went back to Horatio’s last night with my friend Lola for dinner – we had a buy 1 entree, get 1 free coupon, which made it seem like a good deal. Alas, this time the food (but not the desserts) wasn’t that great, so it ended up not being a great one.

I got the burger ($16) again, and this time it was very, very, very dry. It was huge as usual, though, and I ended up taking half of it home. Lola had the steak salad ($19), and she thought it was fine but not stellar. The chocolate indulgence cake was particularly good last night, so I can’t complain about that. Still, the food is so expensive that it should be great.

May 2010 Update

Hmm, it may be that Horatio’s is becoming our place to go for birthdays and anniversaries. I actually didn’t want to go to Horatio’s this time (March 2010) – I had a giftcard for its restaurant chain I wanted to use, but I thought I’d enjoy Kincaid’s or Skates better. But they all have the same menu, and Horatio’s is just so much more convenient, specially we are in somewhat of a hurry to get our kids back from being babysat before it gets too late. So Horatio’s it was again, and we had a pretty good experience once again. That said, Mike felt that for the amount of money we paid, the dinner wasn’t special enough.

Once again we shared the baked brie appetizer (just as good as always), which this time was served with just three, tiny, paper thin slices of apple – even though we asked the waitress to bring us more! I once again ordered the cheeseburger ($16), and was very happy with it. The burger had a real charbroiled flavor to it, and the bacon was delicious. It comes with some blue cream cheese that complemented without overwhelming. It was just great. The burger is a whole 10 ounces (I guess they feel they need to justify the price), so of course is too big to eat at one sitting. This time Mike was filled by his dish, so I took the rest home – surprisingly it was quite good microwaved the next day as well! I ordered it with onion rings instead of fries, and this time they were quite good. They had a subtle, sweet flavor and went well with the piquant dipping sauce. Of course, I couldn’t eat more than a couple – and was sad for that. They also came with mushrooms on the side – but these were cold. Indeed, the whole platter was luke-warm and was probably sitting around for a while.

Mike had the special of the day, mahi mahi stuffed with crab. He thought it was very, very good and enjoyed every bite. He also had a margarita, which he thought was good and tasty, but a bit week.

For dessert I ordered the lavender chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream on special ($8, I think). I was *very* disappointed. The cold cake had clearly been in the fridge for quite a while and had acquired that stale-like refrigerator flavor. The ice cream was delicious, but the cake was not worth the calories. The waitress was nice enough to replace it with a slice of their decadent chocolate cake, my favorite at Horatio’s, which I really enjoyed.

The service was quite good, with the exception of the apple episode.

In all, it was a good meal – but again, I wouldn’t go back unless I had a gift certificate of some kind.

horatioburger.jpg

horatiofish.jpg

September 2009 Update

We went back to Horatio’s a couple of weeks ago (September 2009) to celebrate Mike’s birthday. If you join their mailing list, Horatio’s will e-mail you a $20 OFF coupon that you can use during your birthday month. Given how expensive Horatio’s is, we generally only go when we have that certificate.

Once again, we had the warm brie appetizer, which was excellent though, once again, it was in need of more apple slices. I wish it was served with plain toast or even bread, while their focaccia is delicious by itself, it adds an element that the subtle cheese doesn’t need. I should also say that the portion is very generous, large enough for 3 or 4 people (but we ate it all).

I had their burger, which I think costs something like $16, but comes with everything you can possibly want: the usual fixings, bacon, avocado, sauteed onions and even mushrooms, I think. It was a big burger, a pretty good burger and I enjoyed it. The french fries were unimpressive, but fine.

Mike had the fish special of the day, some sort of white fish in some sort of white sauce. All I know is that enjoyed it a lot – but the portion was rather small.
We didn’t have time for dessert, as we had to go pick up our kids, but we often have dessert at Horatio’s and we’re always pleased.

March 2008 Update

A couple of nights ago, a friend took the kids over for a sleepover, and Mike and I decided to go out. I hadn’t been at home for our 15th anniversary (it was my last day in Kenya), so this was sort of a late anniversary dinner. This time I was not that impressed with Horatio’s.
We ate at the lounge, which is my favorite area of the restaurant. I was in the mood for something sweet so I ordered the onion rings ($6) and the BBQ pork sandwich ($10). Mike had the fish & chips ($13.50) – all food from the pub menu. The onion rings were very disappointing, they barely had any flavor, though the dipping sauces were pretty good, specially the spicy one. Still, the onion rings and mayo sauce at Angelina’s are much better.

My sandwich was advertised to come with coleslaw, and I assumed they meant on the side. Instead it was mixed into the meat, making it too spicy for my taste. Others, I’m sure, would like it. The sandwich came with a large portion of unremarkable fries.

Mike’s fish and chips were good, and he’d order them again. I think I might as well.

The portions were quite generous, and I wasn’t able to finish it all. Even so, I could not resist getting their chocolate decadence cake ($8), a chocolate cake with a deep fudge frosting served with vanilla ice cream. It really honors its name and it’s fully decadent. I love it and order it almost every time I go to Horatio’s.

I’ll continue going to Horatio’s as I really enjoy the lounge and the desserts – and now that they have a pub menu, going there for dinner is less onerous (their regular menu is very expensive).

Horatio’s
60 San Leandro Marina
San Leandro
(510) 351-5556
http://horatios.com/
M-Sa: last call 11 PM
Su: last call 10:30 PM

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews


A16 Food + Wine – Cookbook Review

I went to A16 many years ago, when it first opened. It was pretty good, though I disliked the burnt crust of my pizza and there were some service problems ( you can read my full review). There was one wonderful pork dish, which I’m hoping to recreate sometime soon. I started cooking from the A16: Food + Wine cookbook, however, by making the Short Ribs alla Genovese.

I chose that recipe because short ribs were on sale and I love short ribs. The results were, as expected, very good (I’ve seldom have had braised short ribs that were not good) – though this wasn’t necessarily the best short rib recipe I’ve made. Aegea, a picky 5 yo good friend of my kids, really liked them and I think she ate at least 3 short ribs by herself! (I’m always glad when I can make something little kids will eat). That said, I’d probably not make them again, but just because I’m still searching for the perfect short rib recipe (and there are many, many to try). This is a perfectly good one, however.

I should note, because the book notes, that despite the name this dish does not come from Genoa. It’s Neapolitan instead, and predates the arrival of tomatoes in the region – with onions taking center stage instead. One different ingredient that shows up in this recipe is an anchovy. I put it, but I wonder how much of a difference it made. Probably not enough to justify having to buy a whole anchovy tin (unless, of course, you’ll consume the rest of the anchovies). I followed the recipe pretty closely, I did only use 3 (rather than 4) red onions, more wouldn’t have fit into my pan. I also used dried rosemary rather than 1 sprig of rosemary, as I didn’t want to pay $2 for a package of fresh rosemary only to use 1 spring. Anyway, here is the recipe.

A16’s Monday Meatballs have (or did) become pretty famous among the crowd of the Craigslist food forum, where I often hang out. Still, they are quite laborious to make, so I hadn’t tried them. Having the book on hand gave me the opportunity to finally pay them homage, so I made them last Sunday. They were easier to make than I thought (though still laborious, mostly because you need to grind your own meat & breadcrumbs) and they have an amazing texture. There is a perfect balance between the meat, the bread and the other ingredients, so that the meatballs are light, but still substantial. Apparently the secret is having a greater bread-to-meat ratio – American meatballs tend to be heavier in the latter – but I’m sure the extra elements, like the ricotta, helped lighten them up as well. As much as I liked the texture, I wasn’t crazy about the taste. In sum: they were too salty. I used 1 Tbsp. of salt like the recipe required, and while I could taste some hints of herbs and other flavors in the meatballs, most of what I did taste was salt. So be forewarned, if you make them – start by adding just 1 tsp. of salt, and add more salt only after cooking a sample and tasting it.

I followed the recipe for the meatballs pretty closely, but I did make some necessary changes. I decreased the chili flakes to 1/2 tsp, from the 1 tsp the recipe asked for – and the meatballs were still too salty for my daughters (which dined on steamed broccoli instead!). I also ended up using regular parsley instead of Italian parsley – because I stupidly didn’t specify in my shopping list, so my husband bought what he thought I wanted – and I didn’t use San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce. My days of shopping all over town for special ingredients are pretty much over, if my local Safeway doesn’t carry a product, chances are I’ll have to substitute – so I used regular whole tomatoes with basil. For that reason, and the fact that basil is over $2 a bunch, I also skipped the basil leaves from the sauce. To tell you the truth, I thought the sauce was pretty good as it was – though I’m sure it’d be better the A16 way. Finally, I didn’t have grana cheese at home, so I used Peccorino-Romano cheese instead.
Below you can find the recipe as I made it, with recommendations on how to improve it in parenthesis.

On a final note, as you’ll the recipe calls for 10 oz of ground pork shoulder and beef chuck each. A butcher may sell you 10oz of those meats, but Safeway does not – so plan to buy a larger quantity of each (I got about 4lbs) and then use them in other meals. I made a braised beef with the beef, and A16’s braised pork shoulder with the pork.

 

Short Ribs alla Genovese

  • 1 packaged anchovy-fillet
  • 5 lbs short ribs
  • 2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 3 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

Take one anchovy, rise it under running water and then let it stand in water for a couple of minutes. Then chop it finely. Set aside.

Trim excessive fat from the short ribs. Season with kosher salt, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 275F.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat, in a wide, heavy, oven-safe pot. Add the ribs, making sure they are not crowded, and brown on all sides – you may need to do this in two batches. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Meanwhile, put the wine into a small pot and reduce in high heat until it’s about 1/2 cup. Set aside.

Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the wide pan and heat over medium-low heat. Add the chopped carrot and celery and cook until the vegetables start to often, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped anchovy, garlic cloves and peppercorns and cook until the garlic softens, about 3 minutes. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions soften, stirring frequently, about 5-10 more minutes. Stir in the vinegar and wine and remove from the heat.

Return the ribs to the pan and sprinkle with rosemary. Cover (use aluminum foil if your pan doesn’t have a cover), put in the oven, and braise for 2 1/2 hours, or until the short ribs are soft. To serve, transfer the short ribs to a serving plate, cover with sauce and drizzle with some olive oil.

Monday Meatballs

a16meat.jpg

  • 6 oz day-old country bread
  • 12 oz boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 oz pork fat
  • 2 oz prosciutto
  • 10 oz beef chuck
  • 1 cup parsley (Italian parsley), coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp kosher salt (1 Tbsp kosher salt)
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. dried chile flakes (1 tsp.)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup ricotta, drained if necessary (fresh ricotta)
  • 1/4 cup milk (whole milk)
  • olive oil
  • 1 28oz can peeled whole tomatoes w/ basil (San Marzano tomatoes + basil leaves)
  • Pecorino-Romano cheese (grana)

Preheat oven to 400F

Cut bread into small chunks and put into a food processor, process until finely ground. Put into a large bowl.

Trim excess fat from the pork shoulder. Put prosciutto and 2 oz of pork fat in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut 10 oz of trimmed pork shoulder into 1″ cubes and put them in the food processor*. Process until finely chopped. Add to the bowl with the bread crumbs. Cut the beef chuck into 1″ cubes, and similarly process in the food processor. Put in bowl. Cut pork fat into chunks, process in the food processor and put in bowl. Do the same with the prosciutto.

Add the parsley, 1 tsp. of salt, oregano, fennel seeds and chile flakes to the bow. Mix with your hands until all ingredients are combined. Set aside.

In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the ricotta and milk, and whisk lightly until the ingredients are combined. Add the ricotta mix to the meat mix and combine with your hands.

Heat a small skillet (oil if necessary) and take a pinch of meat mixture, flatten and cooked in both sides until cook through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.
Form 1 1/2″ meatballs and place them in the baking sheet. Bake until browned, 15-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet once. Remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 300F.

Pour the canned tomatoes into a large bowl and sprinkle 2 tsp of salt. With your hands**, break the tomatoes into small pieces.

Transfer the meatballs into a medium-size baking pan, packing them in. Pour the sauce over the meatballs, cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meatballs are tender. Remove from the oven and, if using basil, distribute the basil leaves throughout the sauce.

Before serving, grate cheese over the meatballs and drizzle with olive oil.

*You can also use a meat grinder, in which case you can grind the meats and bread crumbs together.

**You can also pass the tomatoes through a food mill


The last entree that I cooked from the A16 cookbook was Braised Pork Shoulder with Olives – an adapted version from A16’s “Braised Pork shoulder with chestnuts, olives and herbs”. Alas, I didn’t use chestnuts in my recipe, and instead of fresh springs of sage (4) and marjoram (2), I used herbs de provence – I was too cheap to buy the fresh herbs (I had the required rosemary leftover from another recipe), and didn’t have any dried marjoram, even though I thought I did. While this pork wasn’t as good as the one we ate at A16 many years ago (I rave and rave about it in the review), it was very tasty. Mike, in particular, really liked it – and he doesn’t usually like olives. The pork was super tender and very flavorful. The only problem was that it was too salty (this may be a general issue with A16’s recipes, it’s the second time I encounter this issue), when you make it use the amount of salt I recommend in the recipe below.

I had to return to the book to the library before I finished typing up this recipe, at this point, two and a half years later, I don’t think I’ll be getting it back.

Marga’s Restaurant Recipes

Marga’s Best Recipes