We had a bit of a cold snap again here these past few days. Not crazy enough for snow, but cold enough to make taking the dogs out first thing in the morning especially unpleasant. This left me craving something warm, hearty, and comforting for dinner, and it brought back memories of a dish from my recent weekend in Seattle. Christiann and I went there this past weekend for a little getaway and ended up eating a crazy amount of food in a day and a half, but there were so many good restaurants there that we had a hard time limiting ourselves. One of those was Oddfellows Cafe, which had one of the best brunch dishes I’d ever had. Braised beef short ribs with fennel, cherry tomatoes, and a fried egg on top, it was pretty much mind-blowing in the depth of its flavor and its all-around coziness. So, I decided to recreate it here for all of you; but to make it more of a dinner dish, I subtracted the fried egg (although you’re more than welcome to top yours with one if it suits your fancy).
If you’re unfamiliar with the term braising, it’s a cooking technique that requires you to sear the ingredients at a moderately high heat for a short period before finishing the cooking process at a very low heat for a long amount of time. Usually this process involves the use of a Dutch oven, aka a pot that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven, like Le Creuset. You can sear the dish on the stovetop, then cover it to seal in all the moisture and juices, and roast it at a low heat for several hours. This allows the flavors of the dish to slowly meld into one another, and makes even the toughest cuts of meat turn into soft and spreadable slabs of butter.
My go-to Dutch oven is Le Creuset’s enameled cast iron; the cast iron itself is incredibly durable and will last for generations, and the enamel coating makes it easy to clean and keeps the cast iron from rusting when moisture is exposed to it (i.e. soaking these pots to get off any burnt bits is no problem at all). Preparing the dish in the same pot throughout the cooking process also ensures that no flavor is lost or left behind, every little bit of taste is retained and concentrated in a single glorious cooking vessel. I used their beautiful 6 3/4 quart oval Dutch oven in ‘dune’ for this post, and the kind folks there were generous enough to offer one for a giveaway, too!!! Wahoo!!!! To enter, please use the rafflecopter giveaway below, the giveaway ends at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time on March 11th. Best of luck, friends!
In a large dutch oven, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned on both sides and slightly wrinkled. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the bacon to the pan and fry until crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the frozen pearl onions and sauté until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the short ribs and sear on each side, then remove and set aside. Add the fennel bulb and sauté on each side until lightly golden. Add the short ribs, pearl onions, and bacon back to the pan and stir to incorporate. Add the vegetable broth, red wine, sherry vinegar, bay leaves, black pepper, thyme, nutmeg, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Cover with the lid and place it in the oven. Allow to roast for 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is cooked through and very tender. Remove from the oven and salt to taste, then serve.