Braised Jerk Beef Short Ribs in Coffee & Red Wine Reduction Sauce

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tonight's dinner was nothing short of fantastic. I rarely cook beef (read: never) so this was a bit of a leap for me and one I'm glad I took. A girl can only eat so much chicken and seafood. I browsed the web all morning for ideas as to how to cook short ribs and most of them involved some type of red wine sauce with a couple herbs for good measure. I'm sure they're all quite good but I was hoping for a bit more drama on my plate. I had some plantains sitting on my counter that I really wanted to use, so I thought a Caribbean version of short ribs would be perfect. I came across this recipe that used a jerk marinade and knew I was onto something. I'll admit, the idea of adding coffee to a red wine sauce scared the hell out of me and I almost considered taking it out altogether. But I was fascinated, and after a few modifications to the recipe I knew I was on the right road. I stayed mostly true to the core of the recipe, modifying the marinade to include some things I usually put in my jerk sauce. I also added broth and a touch of brown sugar to even out the sauce for the ribs. Gotta say I'm pretty proud of this dish so I'm excited to share it with you!

 Braised Jerk Beef Short Ribs in Coffee & Red Wine Reduction Sauce

3 - 4 lbs beef short ribs, cut in approx. 3" pieces
2 tbsp grape seed or olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into large pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 1/2 c. fresh coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 1/2 c. hot water)
1 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. dark brown sugar or honey (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Jerk Marinade:
2 tbsp ground allspice
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
8 garlic cloves
2 tbsp scotch bonnet pepper hot sauce (or use 2 or 3 fresh scotch bonnet peppers, seeded & chopped)
1 tbsp ground thyme
1 bunch scallions
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp grape seed or olive oil
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 min
Cook Time: 3 hours (30 minutes hands-on)
Equipment Needed: food processor or blender, large ovenproof Dutch oven pot, small sauce pan

Combine all ingredients for the jerk marinade in the food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste, all measurements listed are approximate. Pour marinade over the beef short ribs in a nonreactive container, toss to coat ribs. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 300°. In a large Dutch oven pot heated to medium high, add oil. Once hot, add short ribs meat side down. Reserve the remaining jerk marinade. Unless you have a huge pot, you will probably need to sear your ribs in batches, so don't crowd the pan. Allow short ribs to sear for approximately 5 minutes on each side, forming a dark caramelized crust. The bottom of the pan will start to blacken, this is normal so don't be alarmed. Remove the first batch of ribs from the pot and set aside, continue with remaining short ribs until all are seared.

Reduce heat to medium and cook reserved jerk marinade, onions, garlic and red peppers until softened, approximately 10 minutes.

Increase heat to medium high. Add wine, coffee, and chicken broth. Deglaze the pan, being sure to scrape up all the little bits of browned vegetable and beef; this adds a ton of flavor to the sauce. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until liquid reduces by about half, about 10 minutes. I tasted my sauce at this time and found it to be a little bitter, so I added the brown sugar at this point. Depending on the wine used and strength of the coffee, you may or may not feel the need to do that. The biggest tip I remember learning about making wine sauces is not to cook with a wine you wouldn't drink. There are great red wines for $5-8 bottle, so don't bust your budget on a sauce. I also added a pinch of cinnamon and cloves, and sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Return the short ribs to the pot, meat side down in the liquid. If necessary, add enough chicken broth to cover short ribs. Cook for 5 minutes or so on medium high heat. Cover tightly and transfer the pot to the oven. The pot I was using was ovenproof, however the glass lid was not, so I just wrapped the pot tightly in aluminum foil and this worked fine.

The ribs will need to cook for 2 -3 hours depending on size, so there is no exact time a recipe can provide. The meat will start to fall off the bone about half way through but that doesn't mean that they are done. At the one hour and two hour mark, turn the ribs over. Continue cooking until the beef is tender, you shouldn't even really need to use a knife to eat these once done.

When short ribs are cooked, remove from oven, uncover and allow to rest for several minutes until serving time. You can skim off some of the oil as the pot starts to cool. I wanted to make a sauce a little bit thicker to serve my ribs, so I transferred about 2 cups of the liquid to a sauce pan. Over medium high heat, I cooked the sauce until it had reduced by about half. I then added a squeeze of fresh lime juice and used an immersion blender to puree until smooth.

The short ribs would be great over rice or even sweet potatoes, but as I said I had some plantains to use up so I made a quick puree. The recipe for my Plantain Puree can be found in the previous blog entry. Enjoy! 

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  1. Thank you. I made the jerk short ribs with the plantain puree this weekend. It was amazing. The puree had a slight acidity that was perfect for cutting the fattiness of the meat and didn't fall apart when the sauce was poured over it. That usually happens to me when serving short ribs with polenta.