Blueberry Braised Short Ribs

Blueberry Braised Shortribs over Egg Noodles

Blueberry Braised Shortribs over Egg Noodles

OK, so some of you might have been tempted to opt out when you read the blueberry part of the title. Well, I’m glad you didn’t. I used to be married to a guy who would say: “I like fruit, and I like meat, but I don’t like fruit with my meat.” I am sometimes suspect when I see unexpected combinations, but I am usually unexpectedly surprised (that’s redundant) at the results. This is a perfect example. I made this because my “fruit and meat friend” had the dish at a local restaurant that is no longer in business.  So, not only is the dish no longer available, the recipe is not available via RSVP (a great column in “Bon Appetit” magazine). Typically, braising liquid requires an acid component- most often it is wine (made from fruit…seeing a connection that is not so unappetizing?). I figured I could substitute blueberry juice, concentrate, flavored vinegar, or puree. I struggled with just which component to use, but my choice was based on the following: 1. blueberries were horribly expensive at the grocery store, 2. the only blueberry juice available was combined with other fruits, 3. I have blueberry balsamic vinegar but figured many recipe readers might have difficulty finding it. I decided to use a combination of pureed fresh blueberries (you could certainly use frozen…this just now occurred to me – duh), and a couple of tablespoons of blueberry fruit preserves (Polamer brand All Fruit spreadable fruit). The fruit preserves gave me the flexibility to make the blueberry flavor stronger or weaker (my “fruit and meat friend” said she would have enjoyed an even stronger blueberry flavor). I also experimented a little bit with the type of short ribs I used. I used half bone-in and half boneless. The bone-in short ribs typically provide more flavor, but also fat (most of which I painstakingly skimmed off). I preferred the boneless cuts in the dish because I didn’t have to work around bone or fat to get to the meat. My tasters agreed that all boneless would have been better. Sometimes I will leave bits of braised vegetables with the meat or I put them in the blender/food processor and incorporate them into the sauce.  In this case, however, I thoroughly strained everything and did not include any vegetables or pureed vegetables in the sauce – I didn’t want anything competing with  that blueberry flavor. One final note, while I will often serve short ribs over mashed potatoes or polenta, I think this dish is better accompanied by good old wide egg noodles – again, the goal was to highlight the subtle  blueberry flavor.(Serves 6)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-5 Lbs. Beef Short Ribs (bone-in, boneless, or combination)
  • 2 Carrots – peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds (or 12-15 baby carrots)
  • 1 Leek – white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 6 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1/2 Medium Onion- chopped
  • 2 Stalk Celery – diced
  • 1-2 Pints Blueberries- pureed in food processor or blender
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Tomatoes- chopped (can use cherry or grape tomatoes cut in 1/2)
  • 3-4 TBS. Blueberry Preserves
  • 32 Oz. (4 Cups) Beef Broth
  • 3-5 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 TBS. Dried ( 2 TBS.  Fresh) Parsley – chopped
  • 1 TBS. Dried (2 TBS Fresh) Thyme- chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3-5 TBS. Corn Starch(optional, for thickening)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 Degrees. Season short ribs generously (on both sides) with salt and pepper. shortribs seasonedDredge meat in flour until coated, shaking off excess. Add olive oil to a large stock pot or dutch oven and heat on stovetop. Working in batches, brown short ribs on all sides and set aside. browned shortribsAdd garlic and chopped onion to pot and saute until fragrant, scraping browned meat bits from the bottom of the pot. Add remaining chopped vegetables and pureed blueberries and saute until the vegetables begin to soften slightly – about 5 minutes. blueberry pureebraising ingredients before liquidAdd blueberry preserves, beef broth (stock), and herbs to the pot. Add the browned shortribs and any juice from the meat, cover the pot and place in 450 degree oven. Cook until simmering – about 20 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 Degrees. during braiseCook for another 2.5-3 hours until meat is tender, but not yet falling apart. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pot and set aside. Pour the cooking liquid and vegetables through a fine strainer into a bowl. If desired, puree the vegetables in a food processor and return to the pot – (I did NOT do this, but I do it for other braised recipes). Place the pot with the strained liquid on the stovetop over medium heat. If you would like to thicken the liquid to make more of a gravy (I did), make a slurry (corn starch and a little bit of water combined)  and add to the hot cooking liquid. Stir and allow liquid to thicken to desired consistency (a prefer a not so thick sauce)- for a thicker sauce add more cornstarch water mixture. If sauce becomes too thick, you can thin it with beef broth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper and possibly more blueberry preserves if desired. sauceReturn meat to pot, return to oven or continue heating on stove top for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour until meat has reached desired tenderness. Serve over noodles, mashed potatoes, polenta, or rice.

Our Blue Themed Table

Our Blue Themed Table

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