If it's cold in your corner of the country and you're looking for the antidote to dreary winter weather, you should consider braising.
Braising is a combination cooking method that uses both wet and dry heats. Usually, the food is first seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature while sitting in some amount of liquid. It basically guarantees restaurant results in the comfort of your very own kitchen.
Not sure how to do it? Don't fret—Tara O'Brady has you covered. Watch in the video clip above as she breaks down the three parts of braising, and find her recipe below.
Harissa Braised Beef Short Ribs with Pumpkin
This braise relies on harissa, a north African chile paste made with chiles, garlic, and coriander seed. I use the harissa recipe from my cookbook, which is not blisteringly spicy. If using a particularly piquant one, adjust the quantity to suit your taste. For the pumpkin, I often see large wedges of various pumpkins for sale in my grocery store. With those, I am happy to leave the skin on, cut the slab into chunks, and cook them as such. The skin is easy enough to remove with knife and fork once cooked. Alternatively, use the same weight of peeled butternut squash.
Serves 4 to 6
WHAT YOU NEED:
For the braise
- A small bunch cilantro
- A small bunch flat-leafed parsley
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- Medium-grained kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 pounds (1.8 kg) beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) blocks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, it needn’t be extra virgin
- 2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters through the root
- 2 carrots, peeled, and cut into 3-inch (7.5-cm) pieces
- 2 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 3-inch (7.5-cm) pieces
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
- 3 tablespoons harissa paste, see headnote
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry red wine
- 1 small orange
- 4 cups (1 L) low-sodium beef stock
- 1 pound (454 g) pumpkin, see headnote
- 2 cups (500 ml) cooked chickpeas
- Reserved cilantro leaves
- Reserved flat-leafed parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons dill leaves
- 4 ounces feta cheese
- 1 lemon
WHAT YOU DO:
- Pull the leaves off the cilantro and parsley. Keep aside for later; if storing overnight, place leaves in a self-seal bag and refrigerate. Bundle the picked stems, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf together with kitchen twine. Set aside.
- Preheat an oven to 325°F (160°C). Season short ribs well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the short ribs on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes per batch to get them truly browned. Move the ribs to a shallow plate as they’re done.
- Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot. With the heat still at medium-high, tumble in the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are have good colour, 10 minutes or so. Bring the heat down to medium. Sprinkle the flour across the vegetables, stir for 30 seconds. Spoon in the tomato paste and harissa; cook, scraping and pressing the pastes against the pan until darkened and concentrated, 2 minutes more. Pour in wine, and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes, stirring all the while. Tip in the short ribs and their accumulated juices, followed by the herb bundle. Use a vegetable peeler to cut a 3 or 4-inch strip of zest off the orange, and add it to the pot. Squeeze the juice of the orange in as well. Pour in enough stock to almost cover the beef. Raise the heat and bring to the boil, then cover and transfer to oven.
- Cook until the short ribs are just tender, 2 hours. (If possible, cool short ribs in sauce, cover and refrigerate overnight.) Skim fat from the surface of the sauce and discard. With a slotted spoon, fish out carrots, celery, and herb bundle. Tuck the pumpkin into the sauce, cover, and return the liquids to a simmer by setting it over medium heat, then pop into the oven for 15 minutes; tip in the chickpeas, and continue to cook until the pumpkin is soft, 15 minutes more.
- While the braise finishes, chop the reserved cilantro and parsley along with the dill. Crumble the feta into a bowl. Stir in the herbs. Finely zest the lemon and add to the bowl, along with the juice from half. Fold again.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, adorned with some of the herb-flecked feta, and additional offered at the table.