I’m super into braising things these days.
The process of it. The browning of the wodges of meat and their long, lingering time in the oven. (In a cast iron pot, not the slow cooker.) The way the house smells when you walk outside and then back in – I keep going out and coming in, just for the experience.
It feels like cooking. Bringing home an identifiable slab of meat, cutting and searing it (neither of which requires any particular skill), adding whatever flavours you like (balsamic! salt! thyme!) along with liquid and heat and allowing it all to do its thing – to break down tough connective tissues and melt into a delicious stew no different from those our ancestors cooked for their families in a pot on the hearth or over an open fire. Deep for a Wednesday night, I know.
Braising beef or bison short ribs is just like braising any other tough (read: flavourful) cut of meat. You salt and pepper the meat, patting it dry with paper towels if it’s wet. (This will help it brown, rather than steam.) Put a big cast iron or other ovenproof pot on the stove over relatively high heat, add a glug of oil and brown the meat on all sides, turning it with tongs. Onions and other veggies will help loosen those browned bits, which are essential to the flavour of the finished dish; a big splash of balsamic vinegar helps too. In this case, a wee vial of espresso balsamic from Soffrito.
The funny thing about a dish like braised short ribs is that they have this air of dining out in a fancy restaurant; it’s something you might plan to make for an elaborate dinner party or Sunday supper, when really they take about as much effort as a pot of spaghetti. If you plan to be at home for a few hours between school and dinner, you’ll have just enough time. (Or you could go the pressure cooker route. That would speed things up, but keep them dark and laquered, the way they get after a long stint in a slow oven.)
Look! Dark, sticky winter meat heaven. And a good excuse to make mashed potatoes.