Braised Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Chocolate and Rosemary


Braising short ribs takes time — don’t rush this recipe. In fact, making it a day or so ahead of time will be even more rewarding:  Like many braises and stews, this one gets more flavorful as it sits overnight in the refrigerator.  Also, this will allow you to skim off any fat before you push the braising liquid through a strainer to make the sauce.  This recipe is part of The Cook Sister’s all-chocolate menu and it was demoed at US Botanic Garden February 14, 2014.

2 T olive oil
1/3 C diced pancetta (Italian bacon; about 3 ounces)
4 pounds bone-in short ribs
1½ C finely chopped onions
1/4 C finely chopped shallots
1/4 C finely chopped celery
1/4 C finely chopped peeled carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ C dry red wine
2 C low-salt chicken broth
2 C chopped canned diced tomatoes
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1 large fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
2 T bittersweet chocolate pieces
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1 t finely chopped fresh rosemary
Finely minced red bell pepper for garnish

Heat heavy large pot over low heat. Add olive oil, when it becomes glossy, add pancetta and sauté until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown ribs in pancetta oil in pot over medium-high heat until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to plate. Add onions and next 4 ingredients to pot. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add wine. Simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up browned bits, about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and pancetta. Return ribs to pot, cover and simmer until rib meat is tender, stirring occasionally, about 3 hours, adding stock if needed.  Or you can use a slow cooker and set on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.

Transfer ribs to plate; discard bay leaf and thyme. Pour sauce through a strainer, pushing down on the solids to extract juices. Put strained sauce back into the pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Add chocolate, cocoa powder, and rosemary; stir until chocolate melts. Adjust the seasoning. Return ribs to pot to rewarm. Serve, garnished with fresh rosemary or mint cut into ribbons.  6 servings

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