One night, there was a brief respite. The humidity cleared away as cooling breezes came whistling in. I looked hopefully to my husband: "Can we have short ribs tonight?"
If you're not familiar with them, beef short ribs are approximately 3-inch strips that come both bone-in and boneless. It's an extremely flavorful, although slightly fatty, cut of meat, and ideal for a long, slow braise in the oven. In a few hours time, the fat melts away and seasons the broth, while the meat turns tender, slipping easily from the bone.
If you're the patient sort, cook it the day before and refrigerate it overnight: the fat solidifies and is easy to remove. I've never had that patience, making due with a careful skimming session instead.
Dave didn't have a recipe, opting to wing it with simple, quality ingredients: Garlic, beef stock and wine made for a simple, potent braising liquid. Three fragrant hours later, the pot was transferred to the stove top, the tender meat set aside for a short time.
Mushrooms and prosciutto, cooked separately, were added into the broth. Twenty minutes later, it was thicker, richer and calling for its cooling kindred. He slipped the de-boned meat back in, and quickly brought everything back up to temperature.
We ate immediately, spoons and toasted batons of bread dipping interchangeably in our steaming bowls. Hearty and robust, the long-simmered goodness was the perfect foil to the slight chill in the air. At last, it was time to bid farewell to summer, and gratefully welcome a new season to our table.
Salt and pepper, as needed
4 pounds very meaty, bone-on short ribs
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 cups best quality beef stock
1/2 bottle dry red wine
1 container (8 ounces) whole mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 strips prosciutto, chopped
Pinch cayenne pepper
Dust ribs generously with salt and pepper about one hour before cooking.
In a Dutch oven (or any large, deep pot with a tight-fitting, oven-safe cover and handles) over medium-high heat, sear the ribs, in batches, until nicely browned.
Remove aside and tent with foil, leaving some fat in the pan
Saute onion and garlic until blended; return short ribs to pot, along with stock, wine and additional salt and pepper.
Place pot in a 350-degree oven for about 3 hours, until tender and falling off the bone.
Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms on the stove top: in a nonstick pan over medium heat, add olive oil and butter until melted and mingled. Add the mushrooms, prosciutto and red pepper. Cook about 30-45 minutes, until mushrooms have softened and prosciutto has nicely crisped; reserve until the short ribs are ready.
Remove the Dutch oven to the stove top, and transfer the short ribs to a platter; tent with foil and set aside.
Add the mushroom mixture and 2 pinches of flour. Reduce the liquid for 20-30 minutes, until pleasantly thickened.
Debone the short ribs, pulling off excess fat as necessary. Return to pot, raising the heat slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Once warmed, serve in a shallow bowl with toasted slices of bread.
and behind the scenes, patiently waiting for his own taste: