Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Terrible" Short Rib "Tacos"

Drum roll please! The Short Ribs Recipe is finally here!

But, a double-dose of quotation marks, you ask? Stick around homies, I'll explain.

As a rule, Bren hates beer. All through college, while others drank that awful watered-down version of the already watered-down Bud, he stuck to coffee and Arizona Iced Teas (especially the Pina Colada one, which back in the day had the little packet of coconut flakes... remember those? GENIUS!). In fact he wasn't into alcohol at all.

These days, he still picks the sweet, lady-like drinks. Inevitably, the bartender will mix our drinks up, plonking the Makers & soda down in front of him, and gently laying the the gingerbread-baileys-cream-coconut-something or other concoction with an umbrella, in front of me.

We then dutifully switch them around.

One day, (at where else, Father's Office!) Bren discovered "Terrible" by Unibroue. It was love at first... gulp. If Guiness is a meal, then Terrible is a day of manly desserts... all the mythic colour and gravitas of the legendary Irish brew, except with the bonus of prune, cherry, espresso, even chocolate notes. But this is no prissy beer. It comes in a manly bottle! All dark, with just the word "Terrible" emblazoned on it, in silver. And, at FO, it comes in an ice bucket! Ha!

If you happen upon it, give it a try. Oh and, if you have a Trader Joe's around you, keep an eye out for the Trader Joe's Ale, which is often shelved right next to the Chimay; it's made by Unibroue and is a wonderful, more affordable way to dip your toe into the Unibroue universe. Just be prepared to say goodbye to that toe!

So that's the "Terrible" part. Now for the meat.

The other day, I found boneless short ribs on sale at the supermarket. They looked marvelous -- bright red and lean, and I loved the price -- nearly $2 off! I grabbed a pack with glee, not even knowing what I was going to do with them. I realise now that this is something I had always dreamed of being able to do -- grabbing some meat or produce that looked good, with no plan of how I was going to cook it, and yet able to turn it into something that night. Isn't it nice when you realise how much you've grown?!

Anyway, on the drive back to the homestead, I remembered my glory days in New York... this is where the "taco" part comes in.

Living with two Korean women (Joo!) meant that we frequently feasted on all manner of Korean treats: bulgogi (so many fun little flavours in one bowl!), kimchi jigae (oh so spicy), and my all-time favorite, kalbi: thin strips of beef marinated overnight in a secret brew, unique to each family it seems. Everyone has their own secret weapon to tenderize this chewy cut of meat: pineapple juice, pureed pear, even Pepsi!

"Marinate 'em in Terrible!" Bren said.

I balked. "But isn't that a waste of good beer?"

"No! It'll taste awesome!"

Here's the thing. Marinades don't penetrate much deeper than a 1/4" into a chunk of meat. Marinating for long periods of time doesn't help either -- that marinade ain't goin' any deeper than a 1/4" so all you're doing is turning the outside of your precious meat into mush. Ah, but what if your pieces of meat are about 1/4" thick and in need of some tenderization? Well then an overnight sweet-ish beer-bath will do quite nicely, thank you!

I loved how this turned out: reminiscent of kalbi but with a little Aarti kick! Classic Indian flavours (ginger, garlic, fenugreek, garam masala etc.) give way to an unexpected beer twang. I made some simple white rice, laid a steaming spoonful into a fresh red oak lettuce leaf, and topped it with a piece of deliciously caramelized beef that I cooked outside on the grill. A little drizzle of either extra marinade (don't use the stuff that came in contact with the beef though. That's unsanitary. Make a little extra beforehand.) or some mango chutney and you're good to go. With grilling season upon us (yippee!), this is excellent party food!

If you don't have Terrible, or can't stand the idea of "wasting" it in a marinade when it would taste perfect flowing down your gullet, I understand! I'm sure a Guiness would work just as well. Also, I didn't pound the pieces of beef thin enough, so make sure you take the time to do it; my pieces weren't as delicate as the ones I'd had at Korean joints, and so they weren't quite as tender as I'd hoped. Alternatively, if you can't be bothered to go through all that pounding trouble (which I might forgo myself!), you can find 'em all ready to go at Korean or Asian supermarkets usually.

"Terrible" Short Rib "Tacos"
"Terrible"-marinated Boneless Beef Short Ribs

You'll need:
2lbs boneless beef short ribs, at least 1" thick
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp ginger, minced
3/4 cup Terrible (or Guinness)
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fenugreek seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sweet paprika

For serving:
1 head of red oak or butter lettuce, washed and leaves separated but intact
2 cups steamed white rice
Mango chutney

1) Combine everything except beef ribs in food process, process until smooth. Taste for seasoning.

2) Prep meat. Trim excess fat and silve skin from meat, then slice each piece of rib meat into 4 pieces, cutting at an angle. Lay these pieces between two large pieces of plastic wrap, and pound away with a meat mallet or a heavy pan until they're all about 1/4" thick. I followed the instructions from Cooks Illustrated:

3) Pour some marinade into a non-reactive (glass or plastic) dish. Lay beef in the marinade in an even layer, and then pour the rest of the marinade over it. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

4) The next day, you can either cook it on the grill or under the broiler. I like the grill better. If you are using the broiler, place the meat on one of those broiler rack pans, and cook under the broiler for about 8 minutes until cooked to your liking.

5) If you're going to cook it on the grill, light your coals, and once they're covered in a layer of ash, push them to one side of your grill. Lay your grill grate over the top, and once you've cleaned it, using a pair of tongs and a paper towel, rub with some vegetable oil. Then place the meat on the grate on the side over the hot coals. Turn a few times, and cook about 7 minutes until well-browned on both sides. Move to the cooler side and continue with second batch if you have one. Remove all the meat to a platter and serve: wrap each piece of meat in a lettuce "taco" with a spoonful of rice and a drizzle of mango chutney.




KPurg said...

did my canon camera advice help??

aartilla the fun said...

:) I actually took these photos before you gave me your advice Kat. But I did take the photo of the tomato... I'm not sure that it's much better. I'm just doomed at the moment I think, to crappier photos, until I get a better camera. Wah!

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