Chipotle Braised Short Ribs

There's a foot of snow on the ground - that means I'm braising something. What is it about this way of cooking that so lends itself to cold weather? A little chopping up front then set it and forget it. 3 hours later you have warm, falling off the bone, melt in your mouth goodness.

We just did lamb shanks last weekend, and after being snowed in two weekends in a row the wife was being a little cranky picky and told me under no circumstances did she want the same thing she just had. Thus, I set out to find something different.

After a lot of searching, there just aren't that many different braising recipes. More or less they're basically a little carrot, celery and onion, plus tomatoes and wine...only so many ways you can skin that cat. I had read enough to get the gist of what a braise needs to be. But this had to be more. I wanted a little spice and maybe a hint of savory sweetness. After a quick rummage through the pantry and fridge, I came up with this - and it turned out incredible.

It was spicy - but not in an upfront way. In a "wow this is good...holy cow there's the kick" kind of way. It was smoky and sweet but savory not sugary. It was decadent.

8 Short Ribs (I used boneless because it was what we had)
Peanut Oil
2 small Onions
3 long thin Carrots
2 ribs of Celery
4 Tb Red Wine Vinegar (separated)
1Tb Chipotle Chili Pepper Powder
5-7 chopped Chipotle Peppers in adobo sauce (including their seeds and adobo sauce)
2Tb minced Garlic
2 Tb Tomato Paste
1 bottle Red Wine (One glass each for you and The Wife and the rest for the Ribs)
1 14oz can of diced Tomatoes
1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 300.

Set out your short ribs and pat dry with paper towels - wet food doesn't brown.

In a large dutch oven, bring 3 tablespoons of peanut oil up to heat over medium high. You'll want to use peanut oil or some other lighter oil because it has a milder flavor and a high smoke point.

Combine equal parts salt, pepper and garlic on a plate - about 4 tablespoons each should be enough. Press each side of your short ribs into the mixture and and place into the pan. Do this in two batches so you don't crown the pan - you'll get a better sear. Sear the ribs on all sides for about 2 minutes per side - this should give you a nice brown crust without cooking the meat. Do this for all of your short ribs and set aside.

Add you chopped carrots, celery and onions to the pan and stir - keeping heat over medium high. Stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes, until veggies are soft, and starting to brown. You might have to add a a hint more oil, but the higher heat will help the veggies brown better. Don't worry about the brown crud on the bottom of the pan, just keep stirring. That will come in handy later.

Just when you think all of the oil is gone, pour in two tablespoons of red wine vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan - be sure the scrape the brown crud off the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of chipotle chili powder and stir.

Add all of your chopped chipotle peppers and their adobo sauce - as well as your minced garlic. Let brown, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes.

Add two tablespoons of tomato paste and stir and let brown for another 2-3 minutes.

At this point it's time to celebrate - you're almost done. Pour yourself and your sweetie a glass of red wine, and add the remaining bottle to the mixture along with the remaining two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, stirring to deglaze and get all the brown crud off the bottom of the pan.

Bring this up to a roiling boil and reduce by half - about 15 minutes - or until mixture has thickened but not quite to the point of being syrupy.

Add your can of tomatoes and brown sugar and stir to incorporate.

Add your browned short ribs back to the pot. You want your liquid to almost cover the short ribs. If you need more liquid use a stock of some sort to bring your braising liquid just to the top, without your ribs being submerged.

Cover tightly and pop in your 300 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove your dutch oven from the oven and remove your short ribs from the liquid and set aside. Place a colander over a large bowl and strain your liquid to remove all the veggies. Discard the veggies and skim as much fat as possible off of your liquid.

Return the liquid to your dutch oven, and bring to a boil on your stove top. Simmer for 5-7 minutes to concentrate the flavors.

Add you short ribs back to the liquid and return to the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until they're falling apart tender.

To plate, place short ribs over something that can absorb and compliment the braising liquid and spoon a couple of ladles of sauce over top.

I served this over white truffle mashed potatoes. You could also serve over egg noodles, polenta or whipped cauliflower for the carb conscious.