Braising Short Ribs and Making Polenta

This lesson involves making braised short rib with creamy polenta and roasted root vegetables. Keep in mind that time and patience are critical in making a braised item with large cuts of meat.

Ingredients
Yield: 4 portions

beef
•3 lb short rib, bone removed
•8 oz mirepoix, diced large
•1 oz tomato paste
•1 btl red wine
•beef stock, as needed

polenta
•8 oz polenta
•1 oz fontina cheese
•1 oz Parmesan cheese
•1 oz sharp cheddar cheese
•2 oz butter
•4 oz cream

root vegetables
•4 oz parsnips, diced small
•4 oz rutabaga, diced small
•4 oz turnips, diced small
•grapeseed oil, as needed
•salt and pepper, to taste

Cooking Method: Beef
Check your short rib. You will want one with the bones removed, because the bones absorb heat. The connective tissue will break down during cooking, but take care to remove any visible nerves and nerve endings.

Season the beef. Use pepper first, heavily applying it to all sides. Add a generous amount of salt, applied from two feet in the air. Let the beef sit at room temperature for about an hour. The closer the meat is to room temperature, the faster the Maillard reaction will occur.

Select a pot that is adequately sized for your meat. Add the oil and mirepoix to the pot and cook over medium heat.

If you want to oven sear the meat, place it in an oven at 425 degrees for 15–20 minutes. If you want to pan sear it, add a generous amount of grapeseed oil to a stainless steel or cast iron pan on high heat. Meanwhile, check the mirepoix, giving it a stir. The onions will caramelize first, and they will enhance the flavor of the braise later in the recipe.

When the grapeseed oil is hot, sear the meat. Move it after 10 seconds so that it does not stick. You should see the Maillard reaction occur, meaning the outside of the meat is passing 200 degrees. Turn the meat slowly, searing each side. Turn down the heat to medium, and turn the meat once more to absorb heat. At this point, you can also begin basting the meat.

Add tomato paste to the mirepoix to form the pinçage. You will cook this until it deepens in color. Deglaze the mirepoix with red wine and reduce until the pan is dry but the food is still moist. Move the mirepoix to the back burner, and once the liquid is nearly evaporated, turn down the heat.

After searing the short ribs, remove from the heat and transfer to the mirepoix pan. Add beef stock until it reaches halfway up the meat.

Make a cartouche and press it around the beef. Put the lid on and place the meat in the oven at 275 degrees for at least two hours. The goal is for the meat to reach 190 degrees internally to break down connective tissue.

Cooking Method: Polenta
To prepare the polenta, start with one cup of polenta and four cups of boiling water. Add a tablespoon of salt to the water. Whisk using the raining method—that is, sprinkling polenta in as you go.

The gelatinization will begin once it reaches a certain temperature, and all starches have to come to a full boil. The polenta will look thin at first, but it will thicken. Once it has gelatinized, switch to a spatula to stir the polenta frequently until it is ready.

Cooking Method: Roasted Root Vegetables
To start the root vegetables, heat a small amount of grapeseed oil in pan. Put diced turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips in the pan. Toss them. Add pepper first, then salt, and toss again. Then, heat them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Final Steps
Check the beef. So that you don’t burn your hand, use a towel to remove the lid. Pull on a corner of the short rib with a large tweezer tool. If it is soft and tender, it is ready to go. Lift it onto a cutting board. Bring the braising liquid to a full boil.

Break down the short rib. Cut it into three portions, or a different number of portions if that makes more sense for the meat. Put the beef portions in the sauté pan to keep them warm.

Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. Pour some of the sauce on top of the beef. Place the beef back in the oven for 5–6 minutes to glaze on the top shelf at high heat.

At this point, the polenta should have cooked for about 1.5 hours. There shouldn’t be any graininess in polenta. Instead, it should be very smooth, and each piece should break down fully if it is ready. To the polenta, add butter, fontina cheese, sharp Cheddar cheese, and Parmesan. The goal is to make the polenta creamy and cheesy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Plating
Plate the polenta first with a large kitchen spoon in the center. Next, add the braised beef in the center, topping it with sauce. Finish by adding the roasted root vegetables.