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Red Wine Braised Boneless Short Ribs with Fried Ricotta Gnocchi

Braised anything for me shouts out one-pot goodness! This method of cooking works wonders for inexpensive cuts of meat as it helps to coax tenderness and flavors from the meat that you may not otherwise be able to extract.  Braising can be done in a crock pot/slow cooker, pressure cooker, large sauté pan or the most often used cooking vessel for braises, a Dutch oven. After searing the meat, the remainder of the cooking time does not require much attention leaving you time to do other things or take a break – low-maintenance cooking! This is a definite plus when entertaining as you will have more time for your guests.

Typical cuts of beef best suited to a good braise are:
  • Chuck Roast
  • Blade Roast
  • Ribs
  • Brisket
  • Shanks
  • Short Ribs

Gnocchi (pronounced nee-okkee) are Italian dumplings.  They’re fantastic with all sorts of sauces, from a simple summer tomato sauce to the richest winter meat sauces.  Gnocchi recipes date back to the twelfth century and are most common in the Northern regions of Italy such as Veneto.  Traditionally gnocchi is made with potatoes and flour but other gnocchi recipes such Gnocchi alla Romana, which use semolina instead of potato (bake the dumplings in the oven layered with cheese until golden brown) or Florence’s strozzapreti are gnocchi made from a combination of spinach and ricotta.  And just like most of Italian cooking, these delicious lumps do not just vary from region to region, but from household to household as well, depending upon what is available.

Serves 4
adapted from Chef Cottle

Gnocchi:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk ricotta, drained
1 large egg

Ribs:

4 boneless beef short ribs

salt and black pepper
Canola oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2/3 cup carrot, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup red wine
1 to 2 cups chicken stock
small bunch of basil
3 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
15 black peppercorns

For the gnocchi, combine flour, Parmesan, lemon zest and salt in bowl. Add the ricotta and egg. Combine well with your fingers until dough just comes together, taking care not to overwork, which will cause the dough to toughen. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Cut the dough into thirds using a bench scraper or sharp knife. Very gently, with a feathery touch, roll each peace into foot long ropes, about an inch in diameter, flouring as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface. Place dough ropes in refrigerator, uncovered for one hour.

 

Get a large pot of salted water boiling. After the dough has rested, cut each rope into half inch pieces with a bench scraper or knife, place in boiling water, boil until gnocchi float to top, remove and cook in smoking hot oil until crisp on both sides.

To braise the ribs, preheat oven to 180c (350f). Heat canola oil in a large pot over high heat. Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Brown short ribs in the pot about an inch a way from one another to ensure even browning. Brown all sides and remove from pan, set aside. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pan and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping the bits on the bottom up with a wooden spoon. Add the basil, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce for about 6 minutes and add the short ribs back in. Make sure the liquid slightly covers the meat. Cover tightly and cook in the oven for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

Remove from oven, gently take out the short ribs and cover. Meanwhile, strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and place back into a pot set over medium-high heat, and reduce to create a thickened broth for the short ribs.

To serve, arrange fried gnocchi in a bowl, top with the beef and spoon over the broth.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Although I enjoy fried gnocchi, I think the next time I make this I’ll skip the frying bit as the flavor of the lemon zest comes through quite nicely. I used Villa Doro 2010 Vendemmia ($7.99) for the braising liquid (gorgeous deep ruby hues) and served Palazzo Della Torre (2008 Allegrini, $19.99) with the meal (smooth, full-bodied cru made in a ripasso style).  You can cut the meat up or tear it apart.  If you have any beef leftover, make a pulled-beef sandwich.  Enjoy!

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