01 December, 2012

Red Wine Braised Beef with Cranberry Reduction

I had leftover cranberry sauce.
(is it still considered leftover if you forget to serve it?!)

Why not turn that frown upside down, and make a beautifully impressive dinner?

This beef is seared in a cast iron skillet (or any hot skillet you may have), braised in red wine, and  finished in the oven for hours until ever-so-tender. 
Leftover cranberry sauce is added to the pan juices and reduced, making a sweet and savory sauce.  
Serve with mashed potatoes, Tomato Braised Kale, and Sage Popovers, and you've got a special meal.  

Red Wine Braised Beef with Cranberry Reduction

3 bone-in short ribs (~2 1/2 lbs)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
3 onions, chopped and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups red wine (chianti works well, I had barbera on hand)
2 cups water, preferably boiling (or room temp will work)
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Optional step if time: generously coat the short ribs in salt and pepper and refrigerate for 4 hours and up to 1 day.  This step makes a moister meat, but can be skipped. 

1. Remove short ribs from fridge a half hour before cooking to bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Heat a few drizzles of olive oil in large oven-safe skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat.  Get the pan pretty hot (a drop of water should sizzle when hot enough).  Add the short ribs, in batches if necessary, and sear all sides until a nice brown crust forms.  Remove to a plate.

3. In same hot pan add the onion, carrot, and celery.  Cook for a few minutes without stirring.  Stir once, and cook another 5 minutes or so without disturbing, until vegetables will begin sticking to pan a bit.  Stir and cook another 5 minutes, until vegetables stick to bottom again.  

4.  Carefully pour in the red wine and stir, scraping up the brown buts from the beef and veggies.  Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the water, thyme, rosemary, a couple shakes of salt and pepper, and bay leaf. If the meat is not covered with liquid, add more water until it is.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and transfer to the hot oven.  Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  

5. Remove from oven, and carefully remove the short ribs to a plate, draping the aluminum foil over them.  Place a colander in a large bowl, and drain the contents of the skillet into the bowl.  Reserve the beef stock and discard the carrot/onion/celery mirepoix.  Pour a spoonful of the beef stock over each short rib to keep it moist while you make the Cranberry Reduction.

6. Return the skillet to the stovetop, add 2 cups of the beef stock and the cranberry sauce, and heat over medium- medium high heat.  Bring to a simmer.  Once at a simmer, stir often, and cook about 10 minutes, until the sauce begins to reduce.  Taste and if too sweet add more broth.  Continue cooking until sauce reduces by half and slightly thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Portion short ribs on serving plates and spoon the cranberry reduction over top. Enjoy!

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