Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sous Vide Short Ribs and a Happy New Year!

Well, hello 2014!

You might remember me from way back in 2013. I know... it's been a while, but sometimes the very best things are worth waiting for! And also sometimes sitting down to write a blog seems so daunting you just decide not to do it. For MONTHS. But it's a new year, I've resolved to spend 2014 filling your computer screen with delicious new recipes, so here I am... ready for action with brand new recipes and some very fancy new Christmas presents.

It's not really news to anyone that Richard spoils me a little bit. Ok, a lot. And he really shines at Christmas time. I mean... REALLY shines... just like the beautiful copper pots that I found beneath the Christmas tree (no joke- I gift ever! (Until next year, of course!) If I learned one thing this Christmas, it was that my friends and family want to keep me in the kitchen and on the wine. I was gifted cases of wine (thanks mom and dad!), bottles of wine, gift cards for wine, and enough new kitchen toys to keep me busy and drunk for months. So message received... I get the less than subtle hint! Get back in the kitchen and get to work. Well between all the cookbooks, cookbooks, a few more cookbooks, the absolutely STUNNING copper pots (mentioned above and pictured below) and the fancy schmancy new sous vide Rich got me, I have plenty of sources for inspiration. 

A sous who now? A sous what now? A sous vide (sue-veed)... Yeah, I didn't really know what it was, either. I thought maybe the box had new running shoes in it, but no, quite the opposite (I think, I'm not sure what the opposite of running shoes are)! So, if you're curious, sous vide (French for "under vacuum") is a cooking method where food is vacuum sealed in airtight plastic bags and then cooked in a water bath at a low temperature (typically 130 degrees or so) for a longer than usual cooking time... up to 72 hours! Why? Because everything is cooked perfectly even and it stays INSANELY tender and juicy, thanks to the airtight seal. Annnnd the best part is, there's are no messy pots and pans to clean up after... brilliant!

Obviously, I needed to give this bad boy a go ASAP. Now, this recipe does take a little bit of planning ahead, because you have to start dinner 72 hours before you are ready to eat it. But, if I can manage it, you can, too! We happened to have some grass-fed bison short ribs in the freezer, because that's the life I live, one where exotic game meats just happen to be in my freezer. We had purchased them at our local farmer's market a few weeks back, and they turned out to be the perfect thing to test my new skills out on. I used my "go to" recipe for short ribs with a few obvious changes to adapt it to the sous vide cooking method and they turned out absolutely TO DIE FOR. (Fun fact: you can also find this recipe and a fun article on entertaining in the brand new edition of Indie Chick Magazine! Yup, I am published and in print! Woo! Find it HERE.)

One important note, bison tends to be much leaner than beef, so the ribs were naturally a little less decadent than normal grain fed beef short ribs. So, if you want to be healthy, go bison, if you want to be in heaven, go beef. After all, there's a reason that no one has ever said "Bison, it's what's for dinner."

No sous vide? No problem! I was in your shoes mere weeks ago! Just scroll down for the traditional preparation method, that's just as tasty. I served my short ribs over creamy polenta, and it was the perfect meal to kick off 2014 with my husby!

Sous Vide Method:

1 bottle of dry red wine
8 short ribs (ask your butcher for the meatier ones!)
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat the water bath to 144 degrees. 
In a large saucepan, bring the wine to a boil and then light it on fire with a match. Once the flame dies down (it will take a couple of minutes) continue reducing the wine until you are left with half of the liquid. 

Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown all three meaty sides of each short rib. Do not rush this step... let the ribs get nice and brown! 
Once browned, set the ribs aside and sauté the vegetables until beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes. 

Add the reduced wine, balsamic vinegar, and stock to the vegetables and let the mixture cool completely. Once cooled, add one cup of the wine mixture to the ribs and place them in a vacuum sealed bad (we use the food saver machine.)

Place the vacuum sealed ribs into the water bath and cook for 72 hours. 

When ready to serve, carefully open the sealed bags and set the ribs aside. Strain the wine mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a saucepan and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Place the short ribs into the reduced sauce to reheat. 

Standard Method:

8 beef short ribs (ask your butcher for the meatier ones!)
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
Freshly cracked pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 bay leaf
Sprigs of fresh parsley
Springs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
3 cup of a hearty red wine
5 cups of beef stock
Kosher Salt

Season the short ribs with 1 tbsp ground thyme and freshly cracked pepper. Cover and refrigerate over night, or for at least a few hours. Bring the short ribs to room temperature. In a heavy Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Brown the short ribs on all three meaty sides, making sure not to over crowd them. This may take a few batches depending on the size of your Dutch oven. Once browned, set the ribs aside. Turn the heat down and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, thyme, and bay leaves until caramelized, about 5-7 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and wine. This step is called “de-glazing” and means to scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the liquid to half and then add the short ribs back to the Dutch oven. Add the beef stock so it is just covering the meat. Tuck in the parsley, cover, and braise in the oven at 325 degrees for about 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender. It should fall apart when pierced with a fork.

If you are preparing this ahead of time, you can stop here and continue the next steps just before serving.

Remove the short ribs from the pot and turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Place the short ribs on a baking sheet and brown them in the oven for about 12 minutes until they are caramelized. While the ribs are browning, strain the braising liquid and skim the fat. Reduce the braising liquid by half until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  

Pour the sauce over the ribs just before serving.

Where To Get a Sous Vide:
While they used to be prohibitively expensive for the home chef, the sous vide Rich got me is fantastic and pretty affordable ($199). For more info, or to order your very own, head on over to Don't forget you'll also need to get a food saver or some sort of comparable vacuum sealing system as well. But it's not a bad thing to have in your kitchen arsenal, especially if you want to freeze meats and avoid freezer burn.

Happy New Year!

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