by Gayle Squires, Kosher Camembert.com
This recipe is from Ana Sortun’s SPICE: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean with just a few modifications. It serves 8, but it’s easy to modify using the formula of 1 pound of meat per person. This is one of those recipes that can be made in advance and is better the next day. I like to use a cocotte (dutch oven) with a heavy cover because you can sear and braise in the same pot. If you don’t have one, use any other ovenproof pan covered with heavy duty aluminum foil.
8 pounds beef short ribs (1 pound per person)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup medium-bodied red wine (I used a Shiraz)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3-4 garlic cloves
1 large onion
1 carrot (or a handful of baby carrots)
2 tablespoons tamarind paste/concentrate (see directions below to make your own, or buy the kosher Golchin brand
Bring meat to room temperature. Pat dry and then season meat on all sides with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350F. Roughly chop the onion and carrot, and mince the garlic. Whisk the tamarind into a cup of water and set aside.
In an ovenproof pot (a dutch oven/cocotte is great), sear the seasoned meat in a tiny bit of olive oil – you don’t need to add much oil because short ribs do have a fair amount of fat. Sear the meat until there is nice caramelization on all sides. You know it’s ready when the meat shrinks away from the bone. You may need to do it in 2 batches, depending on the size of your pot. Put the seared ribs on a plate.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, and garlic and mix until the sugar dissolves. Pour the liquid into a bowl.
Lay the ribs in one layer on the pot. They can be a little bit crowded. Pour the liquid mixture and the tamarind paste dissolved in water over the ribs. The liquid should come ¾ up the sides of the short ribs. Add more water if necessary.
Cover the meat in the pot with parchment paper and then cover the entire pot with heavy duty aluminum foil. Then cover the whole thing with a heavy lid or an extra layer off foil. Essentially, you want the pot tightly closed.
Place the pot in the oven and braise for 3 – 3.5 hours. You know the short ribs are ready when they fall apart when poked with a fork. Some of the bones will probably be completely separated from the meat.
Use tongs to remove the meat onto a platter. Strain the liquid into a bowl.
Place the bowl of liquid into the fridge for at least an hour until the fat rises to the top and completely solidifies.
Boil the de-fatted liquid in a pot and then simmer until reduced by ¼. Whisk every once in a while – the sauce will thicken and glisten.
Return the short ribs to the cocotte/dutch oven. Add half the sauce and about ½ C water. Cover tightly and reheat for 20-30 minutes, rolling the ribs around in the sauce every 10 minutes.
Pour a little extra warmed sauce over the ribs when you serve them.
Yield: serves 8
Tamarind Paste, adapted from Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews
Tamarind is a fruit in a pod. You can buy the dried pods in Indian grocery stores. Making the paste from scratch takes a while but isn’t too labor intensive – I’ve actually made it a few times. What you’re interested in is turning the sticky stuff into a concentrate.
1 pound tamarind pods
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
With your fingers, gently crack the dried pods and pull out the sticky seeds. The seeds are linked in a chain and have a fibrous “spine” running down the length of the fruit. The “spine” comes off pretty easily – discard this along with the pod shells.
In a large bowl, cover the sticky seeds with warm water. Cover and soak overnight (at least 6 hours).
With your hands, mash the pulp, separating out the fibers and pits. Cut out a large piece of cheese cloth and double it up. Place it in a bowl and fill it with the pulp. You want to have a lot of extra cheese cloth around the edges. Pull the edges of the cloth together around the pulp and keep twisting to strain out as much of the pulp as possible.
In a new bowl, dump the pulp that was left in the cheesecloth in more water. Again, mash up the pulp. Strain through cheesecloth again. You may need to do this a third time.
Bring all of the strained liquid to a boil in a large saucepan. Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Mix in sugar and lemon juice.
Increase the heat to medium and slowly boil, stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture will continue to reduce and eventually turn very dark brown and take on a silky consistency.
Once the concentrate has cooled, pour it into a glass jar. You should have about a cup. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a year.
Recipes: Meat, Short Ribs, Tamarind Paste, Kosher