I wish I'd gotten on the short ribs bandwagon before it became a bandwagon--like back in the day when you could buy short ribs cheap because nobody wanted them. Now every restaurant worth its salt has some haute version of short ribs on its menu. Like, for instance, short ribs in red wine and port with Asian spice notes, finished with an orange-cilantro gremolata.
If I'd eaten this version at a restaurant, I'd be raving about it. Since I made it myself, modesty forbids raves. But it was quite good.
I liked the idea of broiling the short ribs instead of browning them in the pot. I could do them all at once, with no worries about crowding them so they'd steam rather than brown. I also think they yielded more fat this way (although there was plenty of fat still in them).
About twelve minutes total in the broiler, and they were brown and crispy on both sides.
Lots of vegetables to be cooked, but it looks like it's mostly onions. I was sure I had jar of star anise in my pantry, but apparently not. I substituted a pinch of five-spice powder, which I thought was rather clever of me (star anise is its first ingredient). I knew I had some ginger in my vegetable drawer, but when I looked at it closely, it was too tired and sad to use, so I substituted a pinch of powdered ginger. That was not particularly clever, but it worked to give a hint of ginger flavor. I didn't bother with the cheesecloth for the bouquet garni; I figured that since the broth was going to be strained, it was an unnecessary step. (I was also out of cheesecloth. I think it was hiding out with the star anise).
I love tomato paste in a tube. I used to buy a six-ounce can of tomato paste, use a tablespoon or two, put the rest in the refrigerator, and throw it out after a few weeks. This tube lasts indefinitely and is great for all those recipes that call for just a tablespoon.
I also love recipes that let you pour in whole bottles of wine, although I didn't use the whole bottle because it looked like my pan would overflow if I did. I didn't measure the ruby port, either--just poured in what seemed like enough glugs. This casual attitude about measuring is what caused me to shy away from baking for many years.
Here's the pot of vegetables and cooking liquids just before the meat went back in the pot. This is definitely not a weekday dinner (unless you want to eat at midnight), but it's not difficult, and there are about three hours of cooking time that are largely unattended.
When the short ribs are falling off the bone, you have two options: refrigerate and eat the next day or eat right away. I didn't want to wait another day to eat this great-smelling dish, so I just skimmed a little fat off the top, and we ate hearty.
The next day, when we ate leftovers, however, I saw the advantage of waiting. There was A LOT of hardened fat on the top of the plastic container. A really frightening amount, actually. In its congealed form, it was easy to remove, and the reheated ribs didn't suffer from a lack of flavor without it. In fact, flavor is what this dish is all about. The short ribs are succulent and beefy; the ginger and star anise, along with the port, give a hint of sweetness; and the orange/garlic/parsley gremolata (my husband hates cilantro) adds zest (no pun intended).
With mashed potatoes and plain steamed carrots, this was a wonderful winter meal. Another A+ for Dorie.