Another hit from the Food52 community . . . short ribs doused in brandy and lit on fire. My kind of family-friendly fun.
It is nearly impossible to ruin short ribs. Cook them low and slow, and they will be instant crowd pleasers. But there is the rare recipe that can improve upon their natural beauty. This is it.
My recipe review for Food52:
These short ribs have become an instant family favorite. The cooking process feels ceremonious with it’s brandy bath and quick flash of fire, but after the chopping, browning and flaming, you throw it in the oven and relax for 3 hours. When the ribs came out of the pot, they literally fall off the bone, much to the delight of the onlooking recipe testers. You can taste the layers of flavor . . . the quick sear in bacon fat, a gentle hint of fennel, and the warmth of a good red wine. And the blood orange gremolata punctuates the flavors perfectly. We are thinking of excuses to make these short ribs over and over again.
See the full recipe. And now for the pictorial breakdown:
Gather your ingredients.
Cook the bacon in the large dutch oven until crispy. Then remove bacon, but reserve fat. Give that bacon a rough chop and keep it on the side for later (or eat some.)
Slice the rest of the fennel and carrot and garlic and saute in the bacon fat over medium heat until softened. You can see from my photo that I'm terrible at chopping things into a uniform size/shape. In this case, it doesn't matter. It all gets cooked. It's all good.
Remove the veggies and set aside. There should be bacon fat still on the bottom of the pot. My bacon fat looked like it was running slim, so I added a little olive oil. You just want a little bacon fat or oil to help sear the ribs. Then salt and pepper all four sides of those ribs, and take turns searing each side of all the ribs. I would say about 30 seconds each side.
Now comes the fun part. You pour in the brandy (or cognac, or bourbon or whisky) and light it on fire. I had visions of a 10 foot flame licking my ceiling, but the little guy you see above is about as crazy as it got. I poured a little more on. I lit it up again. A 2 inch flame peeked up and smiled at me. Apparently lighting short ribs on fire is a pretty tame affair. Who knew?
Then you add the red wine and stock and scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pot. Add the chopped veggies and the bacon back in, and toss it in the oven for 3 hours at 300 degrees. You can leave it for 4 hours with no harm done. The house will smell amazing. Not too strong. Just rich enough to keep drawing you to the kitchen.
While the ribs are cooking you came make the gremolata. Chop the flat-leaf parsley and garlic, and add the zest of several blood oranges. Mix together, and reserve in the fridge.
Then take pictures from all angles. None of the pictures will capture how tender these are, but that's ok.