Lee's Kitchen: Cider-braised ribs to die for
I was at Whittle’s two weekends ago buying another $14 worth of tomatoes, since we hadn’t had a hard frost yet. It was hard to find a parking place since families were there to pick pumpkins and apples. Just to feel like I was part of autumn, I bought an acorn squash, which I will bake tonight with chopped apples, walnuts and a bit of honey or brown sugar.
What I wanted to really do, since it is fall, was try a particular recipe I found in Yankee magazine’s September 2019 issue. It calls for cider syrup. I called B.F. Clyde’s in Mystic. They had just three bottles.
So, here is how you make your own cider syrup: Combine 4 cups sweet cider, 3 tablespoons light corn syrup, 2 sticks of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Bring to a boil, then simmer until it is reduced to about half. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and allow to cool a bit. Use this for the recipe below and save the rest for pancakes, waffles or warm biscuits.
Here is the recipe I love. Feel free to use a 3- to 5-pound beef chuck or the same size pork butt. If you are concerned about the hard cider, remember during the oven braising and the sauce at the end, much of the alcohol will be gone.
Cider-Braised Beef Short Ribs
From Yankee magazine, September 2019
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon salt
4 to 5 pounds beef short ribs
3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 cup cider syrup
1 cup sweet cider
2 cups dry hard cider, divided
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Zest from 1 lemon, finely grated for garnish
handful of fresh parsley or cilantro leaves, for garnish
Rub 2 tablespoons salt into the ribs. If possible, do this a day before cooking and put in the refrigerator. If you don’t have time, salt the ribs 1 hour before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then sear short ribs in batches to brown, about 4 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring to brown slightly, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, thyme and remaining salt to the onions, then add the ribs to the pot. Pour in the cider syrup, sweet cider and 1 cup hard cider. The liquid should not cover the ribs completely. Scatter the dried figs. Cover and set in the oven.
Cook until the meat is falling off the bones and is a rich, dark color, 2 to 3 hours. Transfer to a heatproof dish suitable for serving.
Pour the pan juices through a strainer into a large glass measuring sup. Skim off the fat and discard.
Combine the juices, 1 cup hard cider, and the vinegar, bay leaves and rosemary in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Pour sauces over the ribs. Sprinkle with lemon zest and parsley or cilantro. If you are not going to serve it right away, cover the dish and keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees.
On the Side
First I had problems finding Mystic Cheese Company in Groton. Then I found it. Then I tried to go a couple of times, but I hadn't remembered when it was open. And I wasn't sure they were actually making their own cheese there. Then I saw on Facebook that it was now open on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.
I am stoked. A grilled cheese sandwich is $6. There are toppings (actually toppings inside the sandwich). I chose fig jam, which I love. They grill the sandwich in a big panini maker. It came in a little cardboard basket along with cornichons (little gherkins) and a hearty mustard.
Bits of the cheese were laced outside the extraordinary bread. I was in heaven. Next time I will try the cheese plates, with or without meats.
Yes, they are making their own cheeses right there. As a special, one called Melinda Mae was $10 a pound. I bought a pound and served it with wine and pepper crackers. It, too, was heaven.
And they serve wine and beer, the latter brewed at Beer'd Brewing Company right next door. Right here in Groton.
Mystic Cheese Company
225 Leonard Drive, Groton
Lee White lives in Groton. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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