Cut in half lengthwise:
25 vanilla beans*
Using the tip of a spoon, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pods. Place the pods and seeds in a quart jar....
Well-marbled short ribs turn into a luxurious treat after a long braise. The flavorful meat falls off the bone, and the pan juices from short ribs make for an exceptional, velvety sauce. We opted for red wine as the braising liquid and a large addition of mushrooms—which gets reduced into a classic marchand du vin (mushroom wine sauce). A sprinkle of Crispy Fried Shallots and Italian parsley add a welcome crunch and a nice, herbal counterpoint to the umami-rich sauce. We served this over polenta, but egg-rich pasta or noodles would be great as well (see our recipe for Soft Polenta on page 349, of the 2006 edition, or in our new iPhone app!). Pro tip: like any long braise, this recipe is perfect for the slow cooker!
Preheat the oven to 350°F (if not using a slow cooker). Pat dry:
3 pounds beef short ribs, excess fat trimmed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Fry in a Dutch oven or large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat until rendered and brown:
6 ounces bacon, cut into lardons or small chunks
Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate (or a transfer to a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker) and reserve. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the ribs in batches, being careful not to crowd the pot, and brown well on all sides. Remove the ribs and reserve with the bacon. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons fat from the pot. Add and cook, stirring, over medium heat just until the vegetables begin to color, about 10 minutes:
2 cups chopped onions
1½ teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Add and constantly stir until browned, about 2 minutes:
2 tablespoons flour
Add and bring to a boil:
2 cups red wine
8-12 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Return the short ribs and bacon to the pot (or add the sauce to the slow cooker). Tie together and add:
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs Italian parsley
Cover and bake until the ribs are tender and the meat pulls away easily from the bone, 1½ to 2 hours. If you want to serve these ribs with Crispy Fried Shallots, below, you can easily prepare them as the ribs cook. Remove the ribs to a platter and cover to keep warm. Discard the herb bundle. Skim off any fat from the surface of the liquid, and reduce over high heat until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Serve the ribs (bone removed, if desired) over:
Top with the mushroom wine sauce and:
Crispy Fried Shallots, see below
Italian parsley, finely chopped
Crispy Fried Shallots
About ½ a cup
Make a double batch of these crispy shallots to serve atop Asian noodles, stir-fries, rice, and sautéed greens for the next few weeks. They will keep for a month at room temperature in a tightly covered container.
Mix together in a large bowl with clean hands, separating the shallot slices into individual rings:
4 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat in a small heavy pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking:
½ cup vegetable oil
With tongs, carefully add the coated shallot rounds evenly around the pan. Do not crowd; work in batches if necessary. Simmer in the oil until the shallots just begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with the tongs and drain thoroughly on paper towels. When dry, store in a covered container.