Ottawa Citizen

No-fuss short ribs

New Year’s Eve feast can be made ahead


When I in­ter­viewed Tanya Steel, the ed­i­tor of the new Epi­cu­ri­ous cook­book, I asked if she had a favourite recipe among the 250 four-fork win­ners.

At first, she gave me the ex­pected an­swer: “It’s like choos­ing chil­dren,” she said, “you have favourites in dif­fer­ent ways, for dif­fer­ent kinds of oc­ca­sions.”

Then she sur­prised me by sin­gling one out: the Beef Short Ribs Tagine with its ac­com­pa­ny­ing Honey-Glazed But­ter­nut Squash.

“I make it a lot for Christ­mas,” said Steel, not­ing that, be­cause Thanks­giv­ing comes at the end of Novem­ber in the United States, turkey is usu­ally not also served at Christ­mas.

“The beef short ribs tagine is ac­tu­ally very easy and it can feed a crowd,” says Steel.

“And you can make it a day or two be­fore.”

All of which, I fig­ure, makes it an ideal dish for New Year’s Eve: spe­cial, slightly ex­otic, but with ab­so­lutely no fuss at the last minute.

“Amaz­ing. Amaz­ing, Amaz­ing,” said one re­viewer of the recipe on the Epi­cu­ri­ous web­site.

“Beef ribs up here in Canada are harder to find and very ex­pen­sive so I just used baby back pork ribs and it was just as good,” said a re­viewer from Toronto.

“I made it for New Year’s Eve and peo­ple just couldn’t stop rav­ing over the flavour,” said some­one from Cal­i­for­nia.

The site rec­om­mends pair­ing the dish with Syrah wines from South Africa or a pinot noir or zin­fan­del.

Beef Short Ribs Tagine

Makes: 8 serv­ings 5 tbsp (75 mL) olive oil 1 lb (450 g) onions, chopped 16 (3- to 4-inch/8- to 10-cm) pieces meaty beef short ribs, any tough mem­branes trimmed 3 tbsp (50 mL) all-pur­pose flour 4 cups (1 L) low-sodium chicken broth 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) dry red wine 1 cup (250 mL) prune juice 1 tbsp (15 mL) to­mato paste 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground all­spice 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground gin­ger 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cin­na­mon 2 ounces (50 g) pit­ted dates, diced 2 ounces (50 g) dried pears, diced 1 tbsp.(15 mL) honey Honey-Glazed But­ter­nut Squash (recipe fol­lows) Fresh pars­ley, for gar­nish

1. Pre­heat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Heat 3 tbsp (50 mL) oil in a heavy large Dutch oven or flame-proof casse­role over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté un­til browned, about 20 min­utes. Us­ing a slot­ted spoon, trans­fer the onions to a large bowl. Sea­son the short ribs with salt and pep­per. Add 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil to the pot and add half the short ribs. Brown on all sides, about 10 min­utes, then trans­fer ribs to the bowl with the onions. Add the re­main­ing 1 tbsp oil to the pot, then the re­main­ing ribs and brown on all sides, about 10 min­utes. Trans­fer to same bowl.

2. Whisk the flour into the drip­pings in the pot. Whisk in 2 cups (500 mL) broth, the wine, prune juice, to­mato paste and spices. Re­turn the ribs to the pot, ar­rang­ing close to­gether on their sides in a sin­gle layer if pos­si­ble. Add the dates and pears; add the onions and any juices. Bring the liq­uid to a boil. Cover the pot and place in oven. Bake un­til the ribs are ten­der, about 1 hour 45 min­utes.

3. Us­ing tongs, trans­fer the ribs to a large bowl. Strain the cook­ing liq­uid into a medium bowl, press­ing on the con­tents of the strainer. Freeze the liq­uid un­til the fat rises to the top, about 30 min­utes. Spoon off the fat and re­turn liq­uid to the pot. Add the honey and boil un­til the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon and is re­duced to 3 cups (750 mL), about 12 min­utes. Sea­son with salt and pep­per. Re­turn the ribs to the pot, spoon­ing the sauce over to coat.

4. Re­warm the ribs over medium-low hear, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. Mound the ribs on a plat­ter. Top with the squash; gar­nish with pars­ley.

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