Back when I got my very first place (sometime during the Pleistocene Era) I was given a cookbook that had, among other things, a recipe for beef burgundy that called for flambeeing the meat with brandy. I was immediately smitten and, thinking this had to be the ultimate in sophistication, felt very worldly indeed when I served it to my friends. That was a long time ago, but I still get a kick out of (intentionally) setting food aflame. This recipe is tweaked slightly from an earlier version. - wssmom —wssmom
Test Kitchen Notes
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. - CatherineTornow —CatherineTornow
pounds bone-in beef short ribs (6-8 ribs)
1/4 cup cognac or brandy, or more, depending on how frisky you feel
bulb fennel, sliced into matchsticks (about one-half to three-quarters of a cup)
carrot, sliced into matchsticks (about one-half cup)
medium onion, sliced
cup red wine
cups beef or vegetable stock, preferably home made
In a Dutch oven, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels, and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. (If you are long on willpower, you can chop the bacon and add it to the dish later. If you are like me, you will eat all the bacon while going about the recipe). Add the vegetables and saute for about 10 minutes, then remove and set aside, leaving some fat behind.
Salt and pepper the ribs. Working in batches, brown the ribs in the remaining bacon fat until nice and brown. When all are done, return them to the pot.
Open the brandy or cognac, and ensure it is worthy of inclusion in the recipe by having a small snort. Pour over the meat, and using a long kitchen match, step back, avert your face, and ignite. When the flames have died down, add the wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot, then add the stock and the vegetables.
Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat, cover and place in a 300 degree over for 3-4 hours.
Remove the ribs from the pot and set aside. Pour the liquid and vegetables into a bowl through a strainer, pressing down on the veggies to squeeze out the flavor. Use a fat separator or a spoon to skim off the fat, return the stock to the pot and reduce until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Add the ribs, cover, and keep warm while you make the gremolata, if you haven't done so already.
For the gremolata, combine the parsley, the garlic and the zest. Strew artfully atop the ribs, and serve alongside mashed potatoes or polenta.