Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Braised Bison Short Rib Ragu on Porcini Pappardelle

I am really excited about this recipe. The method for braised beef short ribs that inspired this post, found on the Simply Recipes site here, is my winter go-to for snowy weekend meals. 9 out of 10 people  I've prepared this recipe for request an explanation of how to make it, always a good sign. We recently hosted a dinner party for ten people and I knew the rustic flavour of short ribs would be perfect, but I also knew that cooking two whole short ribs per person wouldn't be possible (budget and dutch oven capacity issues). Enter Ragu. Shredding the short ribs into a sauce and serving over buttery egg noodles allowed me to be more casual (i.e. cheap) about how many ribs were required per person. Shredding before serving also meant I could remove all the fatty and unpleasant bits - so that every single bite was moan inducing. Although this recipe is cooked over a few days, it's easy and allows you to prepare everything beforehand, thereby being the perfect recipe to entertain with. Plus I love serving guests beef, on a chicken budget. 

I haven't prepared a lot of bison in my short life, but I can say with certainty this will be the first of many adventures in cooking Manitoba's mascot. Ever since the St. Norbert's Farmers Market announced their online store I've been eyeing the various bison cuts offered by Storsley Bison Ranch (of Beausejour). Their bison is grass fed and raised with no antibiotics or growth hormones. Compared to beef, bison is low in fat, calories and cholesterol and is a good source of iron. When you're not a huge meat eater, like me, this means consuming bison pays nice dividends. Also, consider that it is truly a Manitoba food - more so than any other immigrant or settler food we often think of as defining Prairie cuisine. What food could be more prairie than an animal that has lived here well before confederation, was a staple of indigenous cuisine, that itself subsists on the very grasses that define what a prairie is? I could go on... but I'll spare you.

Perhaps the very best part about cooking bison this past weekend was that it gave us the excuse to invite our friends Delaney and Bhavesh over for dinner. Bhav doesn't eat beef, so I knew he would appreciate coming over for a classic red meat meal, without a hint of beef in the ingredients. Delaney will eat anything. When usually I would've used beef stock to braise, to keep it beef-less, I used a combination of chicken and vegetable broth, and the recipe didn't suffer in the least. If you don't want to go to the trouble of finding bison, you could absolutely use this recipe to cook beef short ribs (I prefer the ones that Sobeys sells). 

One last local plug: the Nature's Farm pasta I crowned with the bison was a key player in this recipe. I've been coveting their Porcini Pappardelle for a few months now, and was so thankful to find it available on the online farmers market. Using good pasta makes all the difference in this dish, and nothing beats Nature's Farm pasta made with their amazing fresh, free run eggs. 

Braised Bison Short Rib Ragu on Porcini Pappardelle
Serves 4-6

10-12 bison short ribs
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 carrots, peeled diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 bottle of red wine (don't use something you wouldn't drink - a Cab or Zin is best)
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups vegetable broth

1 lb. (454 g) Pappardelle pasta
1 tablespoon butter
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

The day before you wish to serve, thaw and remove ribs from fridge so they come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom of a dutch oven or a heavy bottom large pot with olive oil, heat on stove over medium high heat until just smoking. Pat short ribs dry with a paper towel and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Work in batches and use tongs to sear short ribs on all sides. Do not crowd pan. It should take only 1 or 2 minutes per side to brown meat, once you place in pot, do not shuffle or stir around, they are not ready to flip until they easily release from the bottom of the pot. 

Once all ribs are seared, remove from the pot and keep to the side on a plate. Turn the heat down to medium and add the carrots, celery and onion to the pot. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Remove vegetables from pot and reserve in a bowl. Add the red wine to pot, making sure to stir and scrape up bits left on bottom. Simmer the wine for about 15 minutes until it has visibly reduced (keep a relatively close eye on it - I once walked away for too long - ruining a pot and more tragically, wasting an entire bottle of wine). Add seared ribs back into wine, add chicken and vegetable stock to cover ribs (may need less stock or to add some water). Cover (with lid or foil) and cook in a 350 degree oven for 1.5 - 2 hours. Don't peak or stir, not even once. Remove from oven and add back in the cooked carrots, celery and onions, cover, and cook in oven for an additional half hour. Remove from oven, cool, then cover and put in fridge over night. This step is great because it allows all the fat to rise to the top, while also allowing the ribs to soak up all the flavour.

About two hours before serving the next day, remove from fridge. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fat that has hardened on top and discard. Bring he pot to a simmer on stovetop over medium heat. Simmer for about an hour, reducing the liquid and stirring occasionally to ensure the ribs don't stick to the bottom, by now they should be falling off the bone.  

Using tongs, remove the ribs to a cutting board, continue cooking down the liquid, meanwhile using two forks to remove the meet from the bones, shredding, and tossing out any unpleasant bits and the bones. Add the shredded meet back into the thickened sauce. Add more broth if it's too thick, conintue cooking down if it's too thin, then remove from heat and keep warm.

Salt and boil a pot of water, cook pasta according to package instructions (7 minutes for Nature's Farm Pappardelle). Plate pasta and top with a generous helping of the bison short ribs. Use a vegetable peeler to curl cheese over top.

Serve to friends with a good bottle of red wine. We enjoyed this with Post House's PennyBlack Red Blend from South Africa - the best red wine $24 dollars can buy in my humble opinion (and the wine that won two blind taste tests I forced several friends to participate in).

Red Cabbage recipe coming soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment