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Beer-braised Short Ribs (Carbonnade Flamande) with Duchess Potatoes

This is a meal that is sure to impress, but takes very little skill to make. The Carbonnade Flamande, while very fancy sounding, is an extremely simple recipe with very little activity demanded from you; your oven does most of the work. The Duchess Potatoes merely require the most basic of piping skills, yet the end result looks like you slaved over your starch.

There are four ingredients that will elevate your beer-braised short ribs; the beer, the mustard, the stock and the pomegranate molasses. Please make sure to use a Belgian-style ale to braise your beef; if you use and IPA, for example, your flavor will be off and slightly bitter. Make sure you use a dijon mustard; your classic yellow or honey mustard will not fit the flavor profile. If you have your own homemade beef stock, use that. It will give you the richest, best flavor. If not, purchase a salt-free chicken stock at the store. Store-bought beef stock really isn’t the same as homemade, but chicken stock at the store is a pretty decent substitute for homemade stocks. Finally, I highly recommend locating pomegranate molasses; the sweet and tangy flavor really brightens your final sauce.

Do not rush your Carbonnade Flamande; allow each step the full time indicated. Yes, this is a recipe that will take several days, but you are required to do very little work aside from waiting. Believe me, the end result is worth it!

For your potatoes, please do not shy away from the rich ingredients. These are meant to be a decadent treat! Use the butter, use the heavy cream, use the cheese (the kind that you grate yourself- the melting is always better with cheese your grate your own because it has not been coated with anti-caking agent, and the flavor is always superb). 

To pipe your potatoes, all you will need is a 1/2 inch star tip and a ziplock bag. If you do not have a star tip, you can pipe your potatoes directly out of a snipped corner of your ziplock bag, you just will not get the crispy edges that the star tip provides. 


Beer-braised Short Ribs (Carbonnade Flamande)
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Helen Rennie

3-4 pounds bone-in short ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of oil for high heat (grapeseed, canola, safflower)
2 pounds of sweet onions (about 5 medium), sliced 1/4 inch thick pole to pole
2 bay leaves
2 cups of homemade beef or chicken stock (chicken stock can be store-bought)
2 cups Belgian-style ale 
2-3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 - 2 tablespoons of Pomegranate Molasses
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Examine your short ribs; cut off the layer of fat on the top, making sure to get rid of the silvery “skin” as well. That does not cook down and tenderize, despite the hours long cooking time these ribs have ahead of them. Dry your ribs thoroughly with paper towels. The dryer the ribs, the better they will brown. Lightly salt and pepper all sides of your short ribs. Please be sure to use kosher salt here; if you cover your meat with normal table salt, your end result will be too salty. 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Select a large, oven proof skillet with high sides that has a tight fitting lid. You want a large surface area so that you can brown your meat, and high sides so all the braising liquid, meat and onions will fit in your skillet. 

Place the skillet on your stove with 1 tablespoon of canola, safflower or grapeseed oil. Turn your burner onto high. You want an oil that will not smoke at high temperatures, so do not use olive oil here. When the oil starts to shimmer, place your ribs in the pan, meat side down. Do not road your pan; break it into batches if you need to. Cook, without disturbing, for a few minutes until the meat is browned. Flip and brown on all remaining sides. Leave your ribs in the pan, bones side down. 

Sprinkle your sliced onions on top, sprinkled with a pinch of kosher salt. Tuck in two bay leaves. Pour in 2 cups of Belgian-style ale. Add in your 2 cups of stock. Again, you will want to use salt-free stock to prevent your end result from being too salty. You braising liquid should come halfway up your meat; add more stock or water if needed to reach that point. Bring the liquid to a simmer, add your lid, and place the skillet in your preheated oven. Cook for 4 hours. The ribs are done when you can pull them apart with a fork.

This next step makes a big difference; all you ribs to cool completely in the braising liquid. This will take almost as long as it took to braise your meat. Your meat lost a lot of liquid during the braising process; this slow cooling time allows it to reabsorb its lost liquid. Flip the ribs meat-side down for this step. Your bones will slip right off the meat; reserve them to make a lovely beef stock later.

Once your ribs are cooled, trim off any connective tissue. You can shred the meat here and pull out any large bits of fat and connective tissue, like I did this time, or leave your meat in large pieces. Place your meat into a container. 

Strain your braising liquid into another container. Discard your bay leaves, and return the onions to your skillet. Cook them on high heat, stirring occasionally, until your onions become thick and jammy, about five to ten minutes. Tilt your pan to drain your onions of excess fat. Add your onions to your container filled with meat. Refrigerate both your container of meat and onions and your container of braising liquid overnight.

The next day, pull out your container of braising liquid. A solid layer of fat will have formed on the top. Scrape it off and discard. Pour your braising liquid into a skillet and bring it to a boil. Continue simmering your sauce until it has thicken slightly, to a syrupy-like consistency, and the salt level is to your liking. This will take about ten minutes. Add your meat back in with the onions, cooking it on low heat until the meat has warmed through. Add your pomegranate molasses now, to add some much needed acidity to the dish. Top with some dijon mustard and enjoy! 

Duchess Potatoes
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Chowhound

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick), cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup finely shredded Swiss cheese, such as Gruyere 
1/8 cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set
them aside.

Wash your potatoes, cut them into 1-1/2-inch chunks, and place them in a large
saucepan. Cover them with to 2 inches of cold water and salt it generously. Bring
the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer 
until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.

Drain your potatoes in a colander. Push your potatoes through a potatoe ricer This
provides the smoothest texture with out over mixing, and gets rid of the potato 

While the potatoes are still warm, mix in the room temperature egg yolks one at a
time using a spatula, making sure each yolk is completely incorporated before
adding the next. Add the butter, cream, cheese, measured salt, pepper, and nutmeg
and stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Transfer the mixture to a large ziplock back with the corner snipped off fitted with
a 1/2-inch star piping tip and pipe 12 round mounds onto each prepared baking
sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. 

Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate and turn the pans and continue baking until the tops of the potatoes are light golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Garnish with some fresh snipped chives, if desired.


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