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Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta and Wild Mushroom Ragout

By Heidi Allison
Image of Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta and Wild Mushroom Ragout
When I’m craving comfort food, this Basque-inspired recipe ticks off every box—it’s rich, full of flavor and decadent. When paired with a scratch-made, creamy polenta and a wild mushroom ragout, this dish tastes even better reheated the next day, making it a terrific choice for holiday or weekend meals. Since this is a hearty dish, serve it with a light, citrus-inspired, or fruit-centric dessert to finish the meal.

The short ribs are marinated in heady, fresh garlic and rosemary red wine brine, which develops deep, complex flavors in the meat and gently tenderizes it. When purchasing the ribs, ask the butcher for the thickest ribs since this type of meat tends to shrink quite a bit during the cooking process. Choose the red wine carefully—a dry, fruit-forward and tannin-rich red, such a Cabernet, Barolo or French Burgundy will cut the fattiness of the meat and work exceptionally well in this dish. However, the secret for getting the meat to the “falling-off-the-bone” stage is cooking the short ribs slow and low at 275° F for 3.5 to 4 hours, so keep an eye on the oven temperature.

The polenta is made with coarse-ground, yellow cornmeal and is slowly simmered in chicken stock to create a thick texture that stands up to the braised meat and mushroom ragout. If the polenta thickens up too much before serving, just add a bit of warm water to thin it out before plating.

Red wine marinade:

2 cups red wine (Cabernet, Barolo or Burgundy)
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 sprigs rosemary
4 bone-in short ribs, about 2 pounds

Preparation:
Image of ribs in baking dish
Add all the above ingredients to a 13 x 9-inch shallow baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, then foil, and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Uncover and turn the meat over, replace plastic wrap and foil and return to the fridge for another 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator and allow the meat to come to room temperature.

Short Rib Preparation:

½ cup cornstarch
½ cup white rice flour
½ teaspoon kosher flake salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch rounds
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced into ¼-inch cubes
2 tablespoons double-concentrated tomato paste
2 heads of garlic, cut in half crosswise and unpeeled
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 275° F

Place a large sheet of foil on the counter, and add all the above ingredients and mix with your fingers to combine. Wipe the ribs with a paper towel, and dredge in the cornstarch mixture on all sides, then shake off the excess. Place 2 tablespoons oil into a Dutch oven and heat on medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the ribs and sauté till light brown and crispy on all sides—about 6 minutes. Remove meat to a plate and set aside. Reduce heat to medium, and place carrots and onion in the pot. Sauté till veggies are translucent and beginning to soften – about 5-7 minutes. Add tomato paste and sauté till tomato begins to caramelize. Add wine and chicken stock, then stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate all the flavorful brown bits (fond) at the bottom of the pot. Add meat, garlic, rosemary and thyme, making sure the meat is covered with liquid. Bring to a simmer, cover with lid, then place in the lower half of the oven—Cook for 3.5 hours to 4 hours. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Return to the refrigerator for 24 hours, remove the fat accumulated on the top and toss. Reheat short ribs on medium heat until warm.

Polenta

Ingredients:

1 quart of chicken stock
1 cup coarse-ground yellow organic (non-GMO) cornmeal
½ tablespoons kosher flake salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 heaping tablespoon mascarpone cheese

Preparation:

In a heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven, bring the stock to a rolling boil and add salt. Slowly pour in cornmeal while whisking, and continue until liquid is incorporated and there are no lumps. Use a wooden spoon to stir and scrape the corners and bottom of the pot, which tend to stick and burn. Reduce heat to medium-low and, stirring slowly, for about 30 minutes or until a thick texture is achieved. Stir in mascarpone, remove from heat and cover. If the texture gets too thick, add a bit of warm water to thin the texture.

Wild Mushroom Ragout

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3.5 ounces white Beech mushrooms, ends removed and mushroom segments separated
3 ounces oyster mushrooms
2 ounces brown Beech mushrooms, ends removed and mushroom segments separated
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup chicken stock
Kosher flake salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon minced chives

Preparation:
Image of mushrooms in pan
Melt butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat until sizzling but not burning. Add garlic and cook until soft but not brown—about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, toss in the garlic butter and drizzle with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add stock and turn up the heat to medium-high and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft and lightly crispy on the edges. Add hazelnut oil and stir until sauce is absorbed. Remove from pan and set aside. Top with minced chives.

Serving:

Remove short ribs from the refrigerator, take off accumulated fat on top of the dish and toss out. Place short ribs on medium heat and reheat until warm. Place polenta on plate and top with mushroom ragout. Place 2 short ribs, with plenty of rich sauce to cover the ribs and serve.
Image of Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta and Wild Mushroom Ragout
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