While Andrew Carmellini is renowned for his Italian cuisine, his second cookbook, American Flavor, focuses on the diversity of cuisine across the country. From the barbecue in his native Cleveland to the comfort food at his family's dinner table, American Flavor is a good reminder to always expand your repertoire.
The inspiration for this dish came from the best meal I had in my trip through Ireland: bangers and mash and Guinness in a pub in Westport, a picture-perfect little place (it actually won an award for being a “tidy town”) in the northwest of the Republic. So it’s not exactly locally inspired — but come on, who doesn’t love an Irish pub? In New York, there’s a place serving bangers and mash on every other block — and when it comes to celebrating, everybody’s Irish.
To make this right, try to find thick-cut, well-marbled beef: the better the meat, the better the ribs. I like to use bone-in short ribs: they make for a great presentation, and the flavor of the bones bumps up the flavor of the sauce. I marinate the meat overnight for maximum beef beeriness, but I toss the beer marinade down the sink the next day; if you actually cook with the beer, everything turns really bitter. Instead, I add some fresh beer at the end, to give the sauce that straight-from-the-bottle flavor.
The caramelized onion purée balances the beer out with a little bit of sweetness. The idea here is slow caramelization to bring out the sugar in the onions. I bang out the onion purée while the ribs are in the oven, but you can also make the purée the day before, when you marinate the ribs, and stick it in the fridge overnight.
The ribs are great with sour cream mashed potatoes. And beer, of course.
- 5 1/2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs (or 4 pounds boneless short ribs)
- 2 (12-ounce) bottles Guinness, plus 1/2 cup for finishing the dish
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons corn oil
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, rough chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 celery stalks, cut into large chunks (about 1 cup)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks (about 1 cup)
- 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups cheap red wine (the cheaper the better)
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups beef broth or low-sodium chicken broth
Onion puree and finishing
- 2 tablespoons corn oil
- 1 large Vidalia onion or other sweet onion, sliced (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup fresh celery leaves, for garnish
For the ribs:
- The day before you want to serve the ribs, put the meat in a baking dish or other large container and soak it with 2 bottles of the Guinness. Cover the ribs with plastic wrap, and let them marinate in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours, turning them over at the halfway mark to make sure everything gets evenly beered up. (The longer you marinate the meat, the beerier — and better — it will be.)
- Take the ribs out of the fridge and let them sit on the countertop for about an hour, until they come up to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Pull the ribs out of the beer, pat them dry with a paper towel, and season them generously on all sides with the salt and pepper.
- Heat the corn oil in a very large ovenproof pot or casserole with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When the oil is smoking, put the short ribs in the pot. Let the meat cook, turning each piece every couple of minutes with a pair of tongs, for about 8 minutes, until the ribs are chocolate-brown and caramelized on all sides, like a good steak (they should smell like a good steak, too). This is a smoky process, so you might want to open a window or two before you start (and maybe think about pulling the battery out of that smoke alarm).
- Use a pair of tongs to pull the ribs out of the pot and put them on a plate. Then pour the oil out of the pot and use a paper towel to wipe down the insides, so the caramelized stuff doesn’t burn and flavor everything.
- Return the pot to the fire on medium heat. Pour in the olive oil, and then add the onions, celery and carrots. Cook the vegetables, stirring regularly to stop them from sticking, for about 4 to 5 minutes, until they’re roasted and caramelized; they should be soft, with some brown color.
- Add the tomato paste and mix it in well, so the vegetables are coated in the paste. Let the mixture cook for about 30 seconds, until you can smell the tomato caramelizing.
- Add the flour, mix it in and let it toast for about 30 seconds, being careful not to let it burn on the bottom of the pot.
- Add the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pot to release the fond (the base of the sauce — the good stuff that’s caramelized down there). Then add the thyme and bay leaves.
- Raise the heat to high and let the sauce cook for about 5 minutes, until it thickens up and the wine has reduced by three quarters. This is a good time to wipe down the sides of the pot above the cooking mixture with a wet cloth, so that anything that’s splashed onto the sides doesn’t burn and fall into the sauce, wrecking the flavor.
- When the sauce is a thick chocolate color, pile the ribs back into the pot. Add the beef broth and 2 cups of water, so the short ribs are submerged in the liquid. Give everything a stir to bring it together, wipe down the sides of the pot again, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cover the pot and put it on the middle oven rack. Cook the ribs for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning them every hour. They’re ready when they’re fork-tender.
For the onion purée:
- Heat the corn oil in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat. Add the onions, stirring them around and shaking the pan so they’re coated in the oil. Cook the onions for about 1 minute, until you start to get a little caramelization. Then turn the heat down to medium and keep cooking for about 5 minutes, until the onions are golden brown.
- Add the salt and pepper and 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir to combine everything, and continue cooking for about 10 more minutes, until the onions are very soft and all the sharpness has gone out of their flavor.
- Pour everything in the pan — onions and liquid — into a blender, and blend (starting on low speed and working your way up) for about 30 seconds, until everything’s liquified. Pour the onion purée into a bowl and set it aside.
- Pull the meat from the pot with tongs, and pile it on a serving platter.
- Strain the cooking juices into a medium-sized saucepan. You’ll end up with a thick mush in the strainer: take a spoon and push everything through so you get all the good stuff.
- Add the last 1/2 cup of Guinness and the onion puree to the saucepan, and stir everything together; if the sauce has cooled down, warm it up over medium heat.
- Pour the sauce over the short ribs. Sprinkle the celery leaves on top, and serve the ribs right away — with more Guinness, of course.
Try out these short rib recipes on Food Republic: