I’ll get straight to the point – you simply must try this dish. As if slow-braised meltingly tender beef short ribs in a silky port-red wine sauce aren’t enough, the feta salsa verde topping truly takes the dish to a whole new level. My husband and I enjoyed this on Valentine’s night this year with good red wine and big, no, huge smiles on our faces.
I cannot take credit for the recipe. I came upon this in the March issue of Fine Cooking magazine and the page was immediately ripped out and added to my ‘must try’ file of recipes waiting their turn. So many recipes, too few nights in the week I always say! I sure am glad I bumped this to the top of the list.
The concept of topping slow, deeply flavored braised meat with chopped fresh herbs isn’t anything new. Ever seen the term ‘gremolata’ on a restaurant menu? ‘Gremolata’ is essentially a fancy way of saying chopped parsley, garlic and grated lemon zest served atop your, traditionally, osso buco. But it’s the feta salsa verde that takes this dish into uncharted culinary territory. It’s a zingy, fresh salsa composed of minced flat-leaf parsley and mint over crushed capers with anchovy and creamy French Feta. I for one will be using this salsa over everything from grilled skirt and flank steaks to lamb chops to pork come spring and summer.
The recipe calls specifically for French Feta and I understand why. Greek feta is drier and thus more crumbly, whereas French is creamier and moister. In this case, the creaminess of the French Feta blends so well with the minced herbs and olive oil of the salsa. This is not to say that French Feta reigns supreme in general, merely that in this case it works better. I shy away from the lesser expensive Bulgarian feta, as I find with cheeses most especially you get what you pay for.
I recommend purchasing large, meaty short ribs 14-16 oz each per person, since they shrink quite a bit as they braise. The recipe is written for six, so I simply cut it in thirds for myself and my husband. But once you’re taking the time to make it, you might as well make double or triple since braised dishes only get better the next day, and they also freeze quite well too.
If you felt like your prix-fixe Valentine’s dinner out this year was over-priced and under-whelming, keep this recipe in mind for next year. With a box of chocolates and a Hallmark card, you’re all set.
braised short ribs with feta salsa verde
- 6 large beef short ribs, approx 16oz each
- 1 Tbs fresh thyme, plus 4 whole springs tied together
- kosher salt
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 1/2 cups ruby port
- 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups red wine
- 6 cups beef broth (lower salt)
Feta Salsa Verde
- 1 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 anchovy, rinsed
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbs capers, drained and rinsed
- 4 oz French Feta, crumbled (approx 1/2 cup)
1. Put short ribs in large mixing bowl and rub them with thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2. Remove ribs from fridge. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325. Heat dutch oven over high heat. Pour in olive oil and add as many ribs as can fit without over-crowding the pan. Sear on three meaty sides, 3-4 minutes per side until nicely browned. Transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining ribs, reducing heat if ribs are browning too quickly or browned bits are close to burning.
3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and thyme bundle. Stir to scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook until vegetables just begin to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the port. balsamic and red wine. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
4. Add beef broth and return to a boil. Return short ribs and any juices to the pot. Ribs should be nearly submerged. Put a tight-fitting lid over pot and put in oven. Braise for about 3 hours, until meat falls away from the bone when poked with a pairing knife. Remove short ribs and set aside for 30 minutes.
5. While ribs are resting, make the salsa verde. Combine parsley and mint in medium bowl and toss. Transfer half of herbs to a food processor, add garlic and pulse until finely chopped, about five 1-second pulses. Add remaining herbs and anchovy and pulse 3 more times to combine. While pulsing, add half olive oil into processor. Put capers in medium bowl and crush with the back of a fork to mash them. Scrape mixture from processor over capers. Whisk in remaining oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper. Add feta. Season to taste with additional salt/pepper.
6. Transfer ribs to a platter and cover with foil. Strain braising liquid through a fine sieve over a large bowl, pressing on vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Skim fat off the top. Pour liquid back into dutch oven, bring to a simmer and cook until sauce is reduced slightly, 15 minutes.
7. Divide short ribs among 6 bowls. Sauce with braising liquid and top with feta salsa verde.
Serve over mashed potatoes or celery-root puree and/or a green salad.
Serves 6 main course portions. Recipe can easily be divided to serve fewer people.
Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2011 Issue