Wednesday, February 23, 2011

French Friday with Dorie: Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port

I utterly and entirely love every holiday!  We decorate, make too much food, and anticipate these regular reasons for great family times.  We count birthdays, anniversaries, gotcha days, special achievements, and “real holidays” as our holidays to celebrate.  Almost every week or two finds a celebrated holiday at our house.  Sometimes we just make up holidays when needed.

This week we enjoyed President’s Day, and even though owning our own business dictates that we must work even on these special days, with a little planning we enjoyed another family time as we honored leaders of our country while feasting on FFwD’s Short Ribs.  With just a little planning our holidays come together with specialness.  The timing of the ribs recipe was perfect as they can be cooked to perfection in 2 sessions, making way for work, readying the house, baking desserts, and all the other things that must get done.

The desert was blessed, over the weekend, with a gentle rain which yielded on Monday to fresh air, azure skies, green lawns, and an invigorating sweetness in our arid valley.   These kinds of days charge my batteries and get the creative juices flowing.   Since I choose not to have alcohol in my house, I had to re-invent this ribs recipe that calls for both red wine and port as significant ingredients.

The ribs are best cooked by braising which is a pot-roasting method used for tougher cuts of meats.  The meat is first browned and then cooked in a liquid in a covered container, as we say, “Slow and Low” for an extended period of time.  By “pot roasting” inexpensive cuts of meat, one can create a fabulously flavorful  meal resulting in meats that are fork tender, at only a fraction of the cost of the better cuts of meat.

The ribs, which can be beef or pork, (the recipe calls for beef, but we chose pork ribs for our re-created recipe...they looked meatier and fresher at the market) were first seared at a high temperature and were then placed in a Dutch oven with our liquid creation.  We used crushed tomatoes, which replaced the acid in the wine, to break down these tougher cuts of meat resulting in a great flavor and tender texture.  After braising, the liquid was used to make a sauce that is exceptional on mashed potatoes, as suggested by Dorie, or rice, used in our meal.

First I seared all the ribs, and then they were added to my tomato based liquid.  To jazz up this liquid I added diced onion, minced ginger and garlic, diced red pepper, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and from my trees, I added orange and tangerine juices for more acid and also for a fresh taste.

I then placed my covered pot into a 325^ oven where the ribs braised for 3 hours.  The pot was removed from the oven, cooled, and then the ribs were removed from the tomato mixture.  The ribs and “mixture"  were  refrigerated separately.  This way all the fat comes to the top and can be discarded and I can complete my ribs in a second session.  This also works well for my busy schedule.

This BBQ/braising method of cooking reminds Hubby of a favorite dish from his 2 years in Singapore...char siu.  It is the same cut of meat, cooked in a similar fashion, a few different spices and red colorings are used, and the meat results in a delicious flavor and texture.

I’m including my BBQ/Braising sauce recipe for a daughter who  loves it! she can just copy it from this post.

1 gallon crushed tomatoes
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste (about 1 Tablespoon salt)
½ Cup brown sugar
1 cup fresh squeezed orange/tangerine juices

After searing 10 pounds of  ribs on both sides, I put them into a large Dutch oven and smothered them with the above ingredients.  I started with the oven at 400^ for 30 minutes and then reduced the temperature to 325^ for 3 hours.



(At this point the ribs are cooked and can be eaten, however I braised them a second time, in the finished sauce which added more flavor and the meat literally all fell off the bones...juicy and delicious!)

Then I took the ribs out of the oven and refrigerated them separately from the sauce.  The next day I removed the fat that had accumulated at the top, and placed the ribs back into the Dutch oven and into a 300^ oven while I prepared the sauce. 

 I pureed the sauce (which now has the juices from cooking the meat)  with an immersion blender and then added:

1 (additional) Cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chili powder
3 Tablespoons prepared mustard
1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Note:  depending on one's taste, hot sauce or spices could be added, or other veges/spices per personal preference.

The sauce simmered slowly for 1 hour.

About ½ this sauce was poured over the pre-cooked ribs and reheated.  I kept the pot cooking all afternoon until dinner.  When we opened the pot, the meat was falling off the bones, all the flavors had come together and it was wonderful!

The other ½ of the sauce was heated and used to pour over the ribs which were piled onto plates of rice making a mouth-watering main course for our meal.

          NOT A PRETTY PICTURE, BUT THIS MEAT-FALLING-OFF-THE-BONES IS MIGHTY GOOD!   (Right out of the pot, before additional sauce added)
Like some who need gluten-free, and some watch out for extra sugar or calories, we get creative and adjust for any alcohol additions.  Most recipes can be easily adjusted, but this ribs recipe needed a total redo for my family.  We did well and I was proud to serve this splendid dish.  I am excited to see how our meal compares to all or yours!

Happy Presidents’ Day to you all!!!


  1. Looks great! Mine are in the oven & the house smells wonderful!

  2. Great creativity to figure out this recipe without the alcohol. Looks like they were oh so tasty!!

  3. Your ribs look so good, and I love your twist with the tomato sauce! Yum!

  4. Your revised recipe looks great! And I love that you celebrate all your wonderful moments. And make a wonderful moment out of Presidents Day. You got me think'n Kris!

  5. They look wonderful! And so doesn't your braising sauce/recipe. I bet the pork ribs were so delicious. Great job at redoing this recipe!

  6. What a wonderful variation or bonne idee, I suppose :) Your ribs look excellent!!!

  7. I'm glad you made these work for your family - yours look wonderful!

  8. Nice bonne idee. Good photos too.

  9. Your ribs look great…very creative and I'm sure they were delicious! We like holidays in our family, too! I think it's great that you invent holidays!! Sounds like fun!

  10. Thank you for sharing your adjustments. I love seeing all of the creative ways that everyone is able to work these recipes into their lifestyle.

  11. Looks delicious! :) Nice substitutions.

  12. I love seeing your take on this recipe. We celebrate gotcha day at our house too!

  13. How wonderful it is that you celebrate all the holidays~ great outlook on life ! I am also impressed that you tweaked this so wonderfully to address the wine and port issues. Nana and I loved the recipe but it only made me want to braise more meat and try other options and I am certain my boys will flip over your version. Thx so much for including the details so I can try it. Great post !!

  14. Yum! I like to braise in tomato sauce, will have to try bbq sauce.

  15. I love hearing about how members adapt recipes to their household's needs. There are so many delicious juices that could be used instead of alcohol - great post!

  16. I admire your initiative and creativity! Your ribs look fantastic!

  17. Good to have an alcohol free option,thanks. Bon Appétit

  18. I appreciate the non-alcoholic version. my daughter subbed for me in doing this recipe. I am waiting for her to do a guest post on my blog.

  19. Those ribs of yours look really inviting! My mother does not like the taste of wine in her food (plus, she is allergic to alcohol) and never uses it, even though we were raised on many braised meals - you just have to be creative and substitute other flavors. As you did, it seems, perfectly:)
    Your daughter might not be the only one copying your sauce recipe from this post:)

  20. I had to scroll down past that fantastic looking cake you made..holy cow does that look good!! It serisouly is perfect1
    Im glad you liked the ribs..No alcohol in this ribs were fine with the beef broth!
    Yours look great!!