A couple of years ago, I did a write-up on buckwheat honey for the New York Times, and in preparation I met up with Zeke Freeman, one of the founders of Bee Raw honey. He sat me down for a formal honey tasting and took me through several of his favorite varieties. He saved the earthy brown buckwheat for last. While we talked about ways to maximize its rich, faintly funky flavor, he suggested using it for short ribs. With beer. Needless to say, I thought that was a splendid plan.
The recipe below is what I came up with after a little experimentation, and it ran in T Living in November, 2006. It's a rustic version of short ribs (no mirepoix or reductions here), and one that won't take up your whole day. —Merrill Stubbs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 pounds short ribs, trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/3 cup buckwheat honey
12 ounces good brown ale (I used Dogfish Head this time)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the oil in a large, heavy pan or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Season the ribs generously with salt and pepper and brown them on all sides, about 1 minute per side. (You will probably need to do this in batches.)
Remove the short ribs from the pan and pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of fat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard, honey, ale, and bay leaf. Return the meat to the pan and coat with the sauce.
Bring the sauce to a simmer and cover the pan tightly with a lid or foil. Put in the oven and cook until the meat is pull-apart tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the ribs, and skim as much fat as possible from the sauce. Reduce the sauce by simmering it for a few minutes if you'd like. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if you like. Serve the meat warm with some of the sauce spooned over the top.