Water Buffalo or Beef Short Ribs Perfection for an Early Spring

It has been a cold and rainy spring here in NY.  In fact, snow has covered the crocus on two occasions but there may be an end in site as we have been able to shed our winter coats to enjoy the hint of Spring and sunshine of the last week.  I could think of nothing better to welcome the season and warm up chilly evening than a long slow cooked supper of earthy and delicious short ribs.

Short Ribs are one of my favorite meals. I usually make them on a special occasions.  But this week I would like to bid farewell to winter and celebrate Spring.  As Passover upon us, it seems that all the stars are aligned for a special meal.

I purchased water buffalo short ribs from our friends at Riverine Ranch in the Union Square Green Market.  They are there on Saturdays and I really love the lean and deep flavor of their water buffalo meat.  It is low in fat and makes for a delicious short rib dinner.  In an effort to save time – I bought twice what I needed so that I can freeze half for a second meal.  The leftovers – or as I like to refer to it – the  “Bonus Round”  makes for an exceptional meal.  Additionally if you  take the meat off the bones and add it to the short rib sauce for an impromptu ragu over pappardelle for yet another delicious dinner.

Short ribs for 4 (double this recipe for leftovers)

6 pounds Short Ribs (8 ribs)
3 cloves Garlic
3 Leeks
1 Carrot
2 Ribs of Celery
1/4 cup +2T Olive Oil
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1/4t Nutmeg
1 t + Sea Salt
1/2 t + Fresh Ground Pepper
2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
3 springs Fresh Thyme

1 bottle Red Wine

2 Cups Rich Beef or Veal Stock (vegetable can also be used)

Butchers twine for timing Short ribs – optional

1 – For the Dredging Mix make a seasoned flour 1 c flour, 1t salt 1/2 pepper and 1/4 t nutmeg.
2 – Dredge the short ribs in the flour coating evenly and set them on a platter.
3 – Slice the garlic, carrots, celery, and the leeks – reserving the green part for later in the recipe.

4 – Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a frying plan and sear ribs in batches – searing all 6 sides of the ribs to develop a deep brown crust.  Use kitchen tongs for this to make the job easier.  Be careful not to burn the ribs.  Short cooikng on high heat is the method here.
5 – When they are nicely browned return the ribs to a platter and hold until you have finish all the ribs
6 – In a dutch oven or deep roasting pan coat the bottom of the pot with 2 T olive oil.  Over a low flame wilt the leeks and the carrots first, then add the celery and the garlic.  You are looking to sweat these vegetables – extracting their juices without adding color or caramelization.  If you choose you can add a good pinch of salt and pepper to add flavor and assist the cooking process.  Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs – I use rosemary and thyme.

7 – Carefully place the seared short ribs in the dutch oven spacing as evenly as possible.  I prefer to keep all the ribs on one layer for perfect braising.
8 – Open the bottle of wine and pour 1/2 of it in the pan that you used for searing the ribs. Use the wine to deglaze all the brown bits and flavor that collected in the pan.
9 – Return the wine to the dutch oven adding what was left in the bottle.  Heat up enough beef, veal or vegetable stock to cover the ribs.
10 – Add an additional layer of fresh herbs – I use rosemary,  thyme and the green part of the leeks

11 – Place an aluminum foil cover over the pot and then add the cover.  If you are using a roasting pan you will make a foil cover for the pan.  Place in the center of a low oven.  300 degrees for 4 to 6 hours.  I love to cook in a low oven – even better 275 for 8 hours.  If you are in a hurry 350 for 2 to 3 hours.  But honestly low and slow makes for a more perfect meal.
12 – Check the short ribs every hour.  The liquid should be piping hot.  Half way thru cooking remove the cover/lid to help to reduce the liquid.
13 – When the meat is falling off the bone, the ribs are cooked.  Remove to an oven safe pan and cover with foil.  Place them in a warm spot or back in the oven with the heat turned off.
14 – Strain the sauce from the dutch oven removing the solids – taste for salt and pepper and add more only if necessary.  Return the sauce to the pot and cook down until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Remember you are not making gravy – this is a light sauce to pour over the ribs.

Slow Cooked Short Ribs

To serve:
I like to mound barley or polenta in an oversized bowl.  Placing 2 ribs at the edge of the grains and drizzling the sauce over the ribs and 1/2 way on the grains.
This is an excellent meal on a cold rainy Saturday  – keeping the kitchen warm and fragrant all day long
The bonus here is that there generally is a good amount of left over sauce.  I use it in an unconventional way using it as a mother sauce or a ragu with the left over short rib meat served over papradella.  Divine second helpings for another meal…