Years ago, while I putting myself through grad school, I waited tables at this great restaurant down in DC. Back in those days, it was one of those places where locals would come on weeknights for a really quality meal and great beer and absolutely no pretense.
The chef was great, and he would totally indulge me geeking out in the kitchen; pouring over his latest creation. Since the place specialized in beer there was a lot of experimenting in cooking with it–something I didn’t have any familiarity with. Wine, yes, but beer no.
But beer is such a great cooking liquid. The malt and hops are a great compliment to the richness of beef or pork. And something about braising with beer makes it even more comforting. Like wine is trying too hard, but beer-braising is just down home cooking.
One meal that has stuck with me over this last decade is beer-braised short ribs over grits. With St Patty’s Day coming up, I tried an Irish-style spin on things and it worked beautifully.
The restaurant is long since closed, and I never got the original recipe from the chef years ago, but the great thing about cooking at home is you can recreate those moments and memories with just a few items from your local market. So this St. Patty’s Day I’ll be cooking us up a special feast, reminiscent of feasts past! What are your plans for St. Patty’s Day?
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- 3 lbs meaty beef short ribs
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
- 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
- 2 cups diced carrots (2 very large)
- 2 cups thinly sliced leeks (2 large), washed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups diced celery (4 stalks)
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 shot of Irish whiskey (e.g. Jameson's)
- 1 pint of Guinness
- 1 pint water or beef broth
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- Heat oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium high heat.
- Season ribs with half of salt and pepper.
- Place half of ribs in pan and sear on all sides until dark brown--approx 15 minutes total. Repeat with other half of ribs. Place ribs in the bottom of a crock pot set to the lowest setting.
- Skim off most of fat in the bottom of the Dutch oven, leaving just a tablespoon.
- Bring remaining fat back up to medium high heat, add onion, leak, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Saute until tender, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add carrots and celery and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, sautéing another 5 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste and thyme and stir until tomato paste turns a copper color, approximately 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the whiskey, stirring until evaporated. Stir in beer and water and bring to a boil.
- Pour the broth and vegetable mixture over the short ribs in the crock pot. Cover and cook on lowest setting for 6-8 hours.
- 30 minutes before serving, spoon off a cup of the liquid and put back in the Dutch oven on the stove. Bring up to a medium heat and stir in flour, whisking until smooth. Meanwhile, carefully remove short ribs to a platter. Pour remaining liquid into the Dutch oven and cook down for 20 minutes or so. It should be the consistency of a gravy--one that coats the back of a spoon.
- Taste and season accordingly.
- Serve short ribs with a generous spoonful of gravy.
- 1 cup coarse ground grits
- 3 cups water or stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces Irish cheddar, shredded
- 4 scallions, chopped
- In a small saucepan, bring water or stock up to a boil.
- Pour in grits and salt in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Turn the heat to medium and continue whisking.
- Allow to gently simmer, whisking regularly, for 15-20 minutes.
- Turn off heat, add cheddar and scallions and stir vigorously.
- Serve, topped with more cheese and scallions.