Traditionally used to cook less tender (and less expensive) cuts of meat, braising was once hailed as a peasant dish. And, at one time it was unheard of to use anything but red wine to deglaze pan fond and use rich stocks and demi-glace to make up the cooking liquid. Those classics, the foundation recipes that we enhance and re-imagine today, man you must love and appreciate them.
Using the braising principles, I was able to try out a new recipe that unleashed the robust, hearty flavors of the short ribs and the other key ingredients. As you know, I like to first use the ingredients in my Trinidadian by way of New Jersey kitchen. Coconut milk, aged rum and pasilla chiles were generously used to create this new recipe and though more testing is needed coconut milk braised short ribs is definitely being added to my recipe collection.
Yes, the recipe is not included and once I’ve developed it thoroughly I will share. Braising is not a two-hour feat, so the more information I can share the better your braise will be.
Mice En Place
Fresh and Dried Herbs
My Ma and other Caribbean mothers use fresh herbs and spices in their cooking and I proudly continue to carry on that regional tradition. In most Trinidadian households you at least added onions, garlic, ginger and green onions to stews and braises. I always have fresh thyme and rosemary in the house and bay leaves, just an extra aromatic herb.
I set the scotch bonnets aside and have been reading and trying new peppers. In NYC at Kalustyans – a landmark for fine specialty food I found an extensive stock of dried peppers and gourmet items. I bought the smoky and fruity Pasilla chile to add to my short ribs. Why not right! After reconstituting 3 seeded chiles in hot water for ½ hr., I roughly chopped and pureed them in ½ cup of the coconut milk to create a paste.
I cook food with hot stock or water that I boiled in my kettle. To a small saucepan I brought to boil 2 cans of coconut milk, the smell was insane in my kitchen.
I dig a good aged rum, so after I seared six, 7 oz. short rib pieces, a 12 year aged Angostura rum was used to deglaze the pan. Don’t be afraid of this step, to deglaze is to use cold liquid to raise the fond or brown bits stuck at the bottom of the pan. Beer, tequila even water can be used.
As the short ribs cooked for roughly 4 hours in the combination of coconut milk, pasilla chiles and the other fresh and dried herbs, the color of the cooking liquid changed from a bright creamy orange-gold to a sexy deep brown color. After straining and reducing the cooking liquid, the addition of unsalted butter lent to the glossy sheen of the dish.
If someone told me months ago I’d enjoy this meal today without steamed rice or boiled ground provisions like cassava, dasheen and potatoes, I sure as hell would not believe them. I ate the short ribs with roasted Acorn squash and slices of tomatoes and avocado – after all home cooking means home eating!