First frost. Green flag for the few chilly months. Also signals the opening of braising season. Years past we have braised all kinds of tough meats. Brisket, pot roasts, shanks, ox tails – you name it. Nothing warms, comforts quite the way these dishes do.
Browning the meat in the braising pot is typical. It leaves browned bits stuck to the bottom. Simmering in the liquid for hours, they deepen color and flavor. In this recipe meat is not browned in the pot, but smoked low and slow. Veggie bits browned in the dutch oven will contribute, but we’ll swap smoky flavor instead of stuck meaty bits. Let’s see if that’s a good trade.
SP’s Beef Rib Rub:
3 parts Garlic Salt
3 parts Onion Powder
3 parts ground Black Pepper
2 parts Smoked Paprika
1 part Cumin
1 part dried Thyme
1 part dried Rosemary
A few sprinkles of Cayenne Pepper
Generously sprinkled all sides of the ribs. Into the chill chest overnight.
Early morning, started smoking. Indirect method with a couple handfuls of hickory chips at 225°F for 2½ hours. Toward the end of the smoking time, started building the braising liquid on the stovetop.
SP’s Braising Liquid
1 large Onion
3 medium Carrots
3 stalks Celery
4 cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cans low sodium Beef Broth
1 cup Red Wine
3 Bay Leaves
Rough chopped Onion, Carrots and Celery. Peeled and crushed Garlic. No need to be fancy with these – they will be strained out later. Cast Iron Dutch Oven over direct heat. Added the oil. This needs to be hot, but not smoking. Tossed in the onion, carrots, celery. After a few stirs, added the garlic. Once these are starting to brown, poured in the broth and wine a little at a time. Used a wooden spoon to loosen the brown bits from the bottom of the dutch oven. Added the Bay leaves.
Most of the meat in a braise needs to be up and out of the liquid. If all the meat is submerged it is a stew. To keep the meat lifted, made a loose snake with Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil and then made a coil – kind of the same shape as an electric burner on the stove. Placed that in the bottom of the Dutch Oven along with the sautéed vegetables. Meat on top of the coil. Lidded and place in the egg, temperature now 325°F for another 2½ hours.
Many say that braised dishes are much better the next day. Refrigerating, removing the fat that solidifies on the surface of the liquid, then rewarming yields max yumminess, they say. Who has patience for that? Leftovers are indeed tasty, but what would be for dinner tonight?
Roux to thicken gravy
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon all-purpose Flour
Mix these together thoroughly with a fork to avoid lumps in the gravy.
Moved ribs to a platter and covered with aluminum foil for a rest. Strained the veggies out of the liquid – liquid back into the dutch oven. Whisked in the Roux and brought it up to a boil just long enough to thicken.
Mashed potatoes are a natural with this, but rice and gravy could work well, too. A hearty beer or full-bodied red wine completes the package. Great start to the braising season.