Saturday, November 7, 2009

Barcelona Wine Bar's Sherry-Braised Short Ribs with Autumn Vegetables

Yesterday was sweatshirt weather, sunny but crisp, and the night was cool enough to have a fire in the fireplace. Today was bright and warm. In other words, a gorgeous fall weekend.

To add to a glorious weekend, my blog crossed 100,000 visits today with over 140,000 page visits. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by over the last 8 months.

I felt inspired to try out a wonderful, hearty dish of braised short ribs with roasted autumn vegetables from my friend Andy's cookbook, the Barcelona Cookbook. I love eating at Barcelona Wine Bar, but I'm glad Andy and his restaurant partner Sasa shared their secrets so we could enjoy their food at home.

If you'd like to find out about or buy this wonderful cookbook, more information can be found at the book's website or Amazon. What a great gift to give for the holidays or a birthday!

Before you read on, here's the bottom line on this dish: it rocks. This is a must try recipe.

The flavor of cream sherry and apple cider makes this dish unique. The mouth feel is luscious and even decadent. The meat shreds at the touch of a fork. The roasted vegetables are caramelized and sweet. There is some serious umami going on here.

I admit that it's time-consuming, but it's completely worth it.

And if you want to impress, this is a great dinner to make for company. You can make it in advance, which makes it excellent for dinner parties.

Some cook's notes:

This recipe is best done over two days. Or if you're going to make it the same day, you have to start at 8 am to have dinner on the table around 7 pm. Don't worry -- you're not actively cooking all that time, but you must plan on being leisurely.

This recipe has four parts. The first is to marinate the short ribs in a sherry-apple cider brine for at least 8 hours. The second part is to roast the vegetables. The third part is to flour and brown the ribs. The fourth part is to braise the meat and vegetables.

Because this recipe is based on a restaurant recipe, it's a little complicated. I wrote my modifications in the recipe below, but the major changes are as follows:

1) I cut the vegetables, but I didn't measure the oil. I just put the veggies in a bowl, poured a little olive oil over them, added kosher salt and pepper, and mixed with my hands until the veggies were coated. I also didn't put oil on the cookie sheet, but I put a non-stick Silpat on the cookie sheet and cooked them that way. It saves some oil.

2) Instead of making the flour mixture, which uses a lot of flour and spices, I made a mixture using 1/3 of the spices recommended in the recipe. I dried off the marinated ribs with paper towels and sprinkled the meat liberally on all sides with the spice mixture. Then I dredged them in less than a cup of flour which I had in a shallow bowl before I browned the meat in batches.

3) I used my 5.5 quart Le Creuset dutch oven instead of a roasting pan. I would highly recommend this change to the recipe, as you don't have to worry about spilling hot liquid out of the more shallow roasting pan. Any brand dutch oven will do.

4) I didn't have veal stock, so I used half and half of chicken and beef stock, although if you buy a 32 oz. cardboard container of beef stock in the grocery store, it's more convenient to use that whole container and then add 1 cup of water.

5) The recipe calls for two rounds in the oven. The first is a 1 1/2 hour braise. Then the meat and liquid is allowed to cool down. The second round in the oven is to heat the mixture up again. Since I never let the braise cool down, I didn't have to put it in the oven again. I just warmed it up on the stove top when I added the roasted vegetables and onions.

If I were to simplify this recipe further, I would skip the pearl onions and either use frozen pearl onions or slice regular onions and add them with the other vegetables. Instead of roasting the vegetables, I would not coat them in oil but brown them in the oil used to brown the meat, not until cooked but just browned, and would add them to the braise 1 hour into cooking in the oven. Finally, I would use either the pressure cooker if I were in a hurry or the slow cooker if I had more time.

Any of these simplifications stay true to the essence of the recipe: a flavorful marinade, caramelized meat and vegetables, and a slow cook until the meat is tender.

Barcelona Wine Bar's Sherry-Braised Short ribs with Autumn Vegetables
(For printable recipe, click here.)


1 small rib celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 small carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 small Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 small head garlic, halved
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 small sprig fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 cup apple cider
3/4 cup cream sherry or another sweet sherry
2 tbs. sherry vinegar
4 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. kosher salt
six 4 inch long beef short ribs


1 pint (2 cups) pearl onions
2 Yukon Gold potatoes
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice
1 celery root, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice
3 tbs. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 cups instant flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup high quality Spanish paprika
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne
3/4 cup olive oil
5 cups veal stock (or half and half of beef and chicken stock)

Marinating the meat:

Mix all the brine ingredients together. Put the ribs, meat side down, in one or more shallow non-reactive dish(es) or pan(s). Pour the brine over the ribs, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to two days. (Ninette's modification: I used a Ziploc bag.)

Roasting the veggies:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the vegetables except for the onions, put in a bowl and mix with 2 tbs. of olive oil. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper and mix well. Spread the remaining tbs. of olive oil in a shallow baking pan and spread the veggies over the pan in a single layer. You may need to use 2 pans, depending on their size, and a little more olive oil. Roast the veggies for 10 minutes, stir and rotate the pans if you used more than one, and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until they're tender and golden brown. (Ninette's modification: I mixed the veggies with a little oil, salt and pepper until coated and then spread the veggies out on a Silpat-lined cookie sheet.) (Note: if you're making this ahead of time, you can cool the veggies, put them in a container, and refrigerate up to two days.)

Prepare the pearl onions:

Put a pot of water to boil on the stove. Make an x in the root of each pearl onion. Add a generous amount of salt to the water and add the onions. Blanch for 3-4 minutes and drain. Cut off the root ends from the onions. The skin should follow. If the skin doesn't come off by itself, remove. Set the onions aside.

Brown and braise the short ribs:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a Ziploc bag, combine the flour and spices. Seal the bag and shake to mix to flour and spices together. Remove the meat from the brine and pat dry. Reserve the brine. Drop 2 ribs into the bag at a time. Shake to coat well and then remove. (Ninette's modification: Instead of making the flour mixture, I made a mixture using 1/3 of the spices recommended in the recipe. I dried off the marinated ribs with paper towels and sprinkled the meat liberally on all sides with the spice mixture. Then I dredged them in less than a cup of flour which I had in a shallow bowl before I browned the meat in batches in a dutch oven.)

Heat a roasting pan on 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and when hot, brown the ribs until golden brown on all sides. You might have to do this in batches, depending on the size of the pan. (Ninette's modification: I used a 5.5 qt. dutch oven instead of a roasting pan.)

Pour the oil from the pan, wipe any cooked flour from the pan, and scrape the edges and bottom of the pan.

Return the short ribs to the pan and pour 1 cup of the reserved brine and the 5 cups of veal stock over them. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bring to a boil. Very carefully, transfer the roasting pan to the oven and braise for 1 1/2 hours, or until the ribs are tender. Lift the ribs from the pan and set them aside. Set the pan aside to let the braising liquid cool. (Ninette's modifications: When I added the liquid and brought it to a boil, I skimmed the top of any impurities and fat with a fine mesh strainer (one of my most useful kitchen tools!). After the ribs braised, I didn't let the liquid cool, and I didn't remove the ribs from the dutch oven.)

Holding a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl, strain the braising liquid. Skim as much of the fat from the braising liquid with a spoon or ladle or put the liquid in the freezer for an hour and then lift off the fat that congeals on the surface. (Ninette's modification: I ladled the liquid in batches into a fat separator and defatted the liquid. Then I added the liquid back into the dutch oven.)

Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Put the short ribs, onions, reserved roasted vegetables, and strained liquid into the roasting pan and bring to a boil on top of the stove. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the ribs comes out hot. (Ninette's modification: Since I didn't let the liquid cool down, I didn't do the second round in the oven. I just added the veggies and onions to the meat and liquid in the dutch oven, gently mixed them in, and heated the mixture on the stove top over medium-low heat until the liquid is simmering and the veggies are warmed through.)

On 6 serving plates or a large platter, arrange the short ribs. Serve each plate with about 3/4 cup of the roasted vegetables and then with a ladleful of braising liquid.


Anonymous said...

These short ribs are to die for!! Please send sme my way :)

Happy Banyan said...

Ohhhh Yummy!!!! These look amazing!!

La Table De Nana said...

That first photo could be on the cover of a magazine you know:)

Justin said...

sounds totally great

Sara said...

This looks amazing! Love the recipe...sounds complicated but also really delicious!

zurin said...

congrats for the 100,000 over crossings ! WOW! i have a looong way to go. n your dishes are getting more and more scrumptious Ninette...this one relly looks awesome. :)

Nina Timm said...

Well done on you 100 000 visits, quite an accomplishment!!! I can see why so many people come here again and again, your food is divine!!!

Su-yin said...

This looks amazing, I always think anything that is braised or slow cooked tastes great. :)

And congratulations on the passing the 100,000 mark!

Table Talk said...

I bet your whole house smelle amazing with the short ribs braising away. --Not familiar with this book, but if this is one of the recipes, it sounds like it's worth picking up.
Congrats on 100,000---may the next 100,000 come even faster!

Anonymous said...

These look incredible! And very inspiring; I just did a post on braised ribs myself but now I want to try these :) Your site is lovely and I added you to my blogroll! Thank you!

Trissa said...

This looks absolutely amazing! I want to buy the cookbook but I first want to make this dish! Thanks for sharing it! And congratulations in a great job with your site!!!!

Art and Appetite said...

Oh my goodness, those are to die for. Ahhhhhhhhh, I'm on a diet but after seeing this, I guess I'll start dieting next week instead.

Sippity Sup said...

These braised babies are what the season is all about! GREG

Anonymous said...

so many comments...but none of them are about actually TRYING the recipe. It would be good to hear some feedback from others who have made this dish....

Ninette said...

Anon., maybe you can be the firsst one to try it AND post about it. I met a woman named Laurie who made this and raved about it as well. It's worth trying.

BartroCook said...

How would you do this in the slow cooker? Would you do everything up until the braising part and then transfer for that last bit? Low heat or high heat on the crock pot and for how long? I have company coming on Saturday and thought I could start it on Friday and finish it on Saturday. Sounds delicious. I live right down the street from Barcelona!

Ninette said...

Hi Bartro Cook,

If you use the crock pot, I would use it to cook the beef only until tender and then add the veggies until they get warm. If you wanted to do prep the day before, you could still use the oven method and cook the dish the whole way. Then you would just be warming your dish up on Saturday for guests. A one-day rest is good and the dish will taste better that way. You should start on Thursday and put your beef in the marinade to marinate overnight. Then you can continue with the recipe on Friday. I'm not that familiar with crockpot cooking, but I would use high until the beef is tender, 3 hours or more. Email me if you have more questions. Your guests will be happy!

BartroCook said...

Thanks so much - I think I'll do just that. It would be nice not to worry about doing the work on Saturday when I have a house full of kids and company and I just want to socialize. :) I'll let you know how it comes out. Thanks for your quick response.

Lynsey Sleeps said...

This recipe looks gorgeous!!


Carissa @ Pretty/Hungry said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe! I'm hoping to make it for company this weekend... but I'm confused and I hope you can clear this up for me. Why does the recipe call for 4 cups of veal stock... but then you only pour a cup over the ribs before braising? Where does the rest of the stock go? Also, in that step it says to pour a cup of the stock and reserved brine over the ribs before braising. Does that mean a cup of stock and a cup of brine? Or a combined cup of both?

Looks delicious!!

Ninette said...

Carissa, to clarify, you add 1 cup of the brine and all 5 cups of the veal stock (or if you don't have veal stock, beef stock, or a mixture of beef and chicken stock). I'd edited the recipe, so it's clearer. Thanks for pointing it out.

Laura said...

I made these...really great..just found I had way too much of the flour mixture...had about 3 times the amount of ribs...I doubled the flour coating recipe and had a ton left.
Great flavor , everthying else was great...I always made them on the stove top, oven was just as good.
I added a sprinkle of gremolata on top before serving....grated lemon, and orange peal, finest chopped parsley and garli, and a touch of sea salt!?