Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Braised Short Ribs

(Mine looked the same, but camera was charging)

In my first pastured meat order last month, I included some short ribs, but didn't get around to preparing any until yesterday. Actually I only started yesterday; they will be tonight's dinner. 

Since I found the pastured beef (for most cuts, so far) does better when braised, I wasn't sure what to expect for short ribs, so I first simmered them in water an hour. (That was probably totally unnecessary but they were pretty fatty.) The skimmed fat went in the fat can and there's still plenty of fat on the meaty bones to assure a good flavor.

The BIG problem was a sauce, since I refuse to purchase stuff with a paragraph of chemical additives on the label. I wanted a barbecue flavor, and an internet search turned up several alternatives. I made my own sauce by taking some of the best-sounding ingredients and mixing them up. Most of them called for some ketchup, and I don't buy ketchup either. But, I made some ketchup, too... again a mix of recipes. Now, I cannot say the ketchup I made tastes anything like the chemical and sugar-laden store variety, because I simply have not eaten ketchup in years.

To cook the short ribs, I browned them in butter, coated them with the BBQ sauce I just made, and roasted them in a slow oven for an hour. Then I put them in my crockpot (on low) with a can of crushed tomatoes and about a cup of beef stock. I think a cup of a hearty red wine would have worked as well, in place of the beef stock, for an alternative. I did deglaze the pan with a bit of red wine after browning the ribs. The only reason to roast them in the BBQ sauce before braising was a hope of imparting a different flavor to the ribs. The sauce turned out very tasty after the ribs cooked several hours on low, so I can't complain.

Be aware... this sauce will not caramelize in the oven like most BBQ sauces, due to the lack of sugar. I haven't tried it yet on the grill.

Homemade Ketchup, Chemical Free, Low Sugar
1 6oz can organic tomato paste
¼ cup Bragg's apple cider vinegar (more or less) to taste, start with less
1/3 cup water, or to thickness desired
1 Tbs dark brown sugar, optional (You could also use molasses, I think)
1/8-1/4 cup onions, minced, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grey salt, to taste (or any non-iodized salt)
Pinch ground allspice
Pinch ground cloves
Add pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in food processor and blend until the onion and garlic disappears. Adjust thickness by more or less water and vinegar. Spoon mixture into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Homemade BBQ Sauce, Chemical Free (almost, just a tad in 2 ingredients)
1 onion (minced)
1-2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 6oz can organic tomato paste
1 tsp liquid smoke or to taste (Use Colgin's, it’s the real deal compared to others)
¼ cup Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, more or less, to taste, start with less
½ cup water
¼ cup homemade ketchup (recipe above)
2-3 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce, to taste (I only had a tamarind Worcestershire)
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch cinnamon
Hot sauce to taste, or home grown hot peppers

You could slow-cook this mixture (I did not, and should have) 30 minutes for a smoother flavor, but you may need to add more water and vinegar. After cooling, blend well in a food processor. Store in the refrigerator in a container with a tight lid. I will perhaps want to keep tweaking it as I make more, but it's a start to junk-free ketchup.

No two people have the same taste in BBQ sauce, so if you make your own, make a small batch and experiment, until you get a taste you love! I will certainly make it again, and probably experiment more along the way... not just for improvement, but also a change of taste. The short ribs were sweet, tender and succulent! YUM!

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