Sunday, 6 December 2009

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tamarind and Balsamic Vinegar

This decadent pot roast was the signature dish of Saturday night's dinner. I cooked it to celebrate the return of Auntie Shahla, who lives in Bahrain/London and flew in from Karachi last night. She's stopping over in HK to catch up with old friends before heading to NYC on Monday, where she will be visiting Fahd (her eldest son and my good friend). The ribs are spoon tender and melt in your mouth, while the combination of sweet and tart come from the aged balsamic vinegar and the tamarind paste, an Asian and Middle Eastern fruit that brightens a slow-braised dish with a subtle citrusy undercurrent. This must be eaten with Vanilla-Glazed Carrots (see next posting).

8 beef short ribs, weighing 5-6 pounds
4 tablespoons kosher salt
Black pepper
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup sweet balsamic vinegar
1 cup white wine, such as Riesling or Chardonnay
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons tamarind paste, mixed together with 1 cup hot water to dissolve and break most of it down (see images below).
Preheat oven to 350F.
Season each short rib generously with kosher salt and pepper. If using long and thin slabs, cut into pieces of 3 (each separated by a bone).
Lay them side by side in a large heavy roasting pan.
Scatter onions and bay leaf over ribs.
Combine vinegar, wine, brown sugar and garlic in small mixing bowl and pour over short ribs. Then pour tamarind that has been loosened in water into pot.

The liquid should come 3/4 up the sides of the short ribs. Add more water if necessary.

Cover the pan tightly with 2 layers of foil. Place in oven and braise for 3-3 1/2 hours. Remove the foil and check that the short ribs fall apart when poked with a fork.
Carefully remove ribs with tongs, place them onto a serving dish, cover and set aside at room temperature.

Strain the liquid (you should catch tamarind seeds or bits of garlic/onion) through a fine strainer into a large container.

Chill for at least an hour so that fat rises to the top. Remove the fat.
Over high heat, bring the skimmed braising liquid to a boil and add the short ribs. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the short ribs for 20-25 minutes, until they start to glaze in the sauce. The sauce will thicken after 15 minutes.

Roll short ribs in their sauce, then place short ribs on plates and spoon extra sauce over it.

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