Mocha braised ribs n shanks

“Oh mummy, what arrrr we havin for supper tonight? Sumpin special for Saint Patricks day?”

“Ah aye wee lass aye, weel be havin ar traditional mocha braised beef with brown rice don’t ya know”.

Hm, alright, there is so many things wrong with this I could not even begin. But t’is true. We had a fine potluck yesterday with corned beef, potatoes, carrots and cabbage, (and lets not forget the Irish soda bread), the traditional American way of celebrating Saint Patrick’s day and being Irish, or wishing we were Irish, or just thinking briefly about the Irish. I did mean to make Shepherds  pie with lamb, but wouldn’t you know, out of the two stores I went in to, neither one had any lamb left that wasn’t a bone in affair, not suitable for Shepherds pie.

So fine, we did the corned beef yesterday, my duty was done, why not go a little wild? I was thinking of some spaghetti and meatballs, when suddenly I remembered this amazingly wonderful dish I made at one of my Pampered Chef parties, a recipe that came with my Rockcrok! (Pampered Chef recipes never steer you wrong.) And since I was there, in front of the lambless meat display, why not pick up some short ribs?
Because they are so freakishly expensive, that’s why!

I bought one pound of short ribs and it only came to 3 ribs! So right next to it and at a considerable savings, were beef shanks. Large round beef thingys with a nice marrow bone in the middle.

My inner gears went to spinning. This recipe lets the meat cook for several hours, surely long enough for shanks as well. The bone marrow will give a wonderful texture and vitamins to the stewy kind of meal it is. I know this recipe tastes wonderful because I made it once before.

I sold myself on the idea and bought the meat before I had time to back out and rethink it. 1 lb. of ribs and 2 beef shanks. Mix and match. (Such is the way  many of my plans come to fruition. A kind of jump-in-and-hope-for-the-best mentality.)

Lucky for you, I have a few minutes to share this recipe. It took no longer than starting any kind of stew. You braise the meat, saute the veggies, add the liquids, put it all together and let it bake away in the oven while you forgetaboutit and sit down to blog, or find some other interesting thing to do, like folding laundry. Or go catch a movie. Or walk the dog who keeps digging holes because he is bored. Or collect eggs, then spy on the hens to see if you can guess which one ate one of the eggs. Or make homemade play-do for the kids and have them model their names with it.

This recipe is a wonderful rich stew to be served over rice, in my opinion. It is a bit spicy, with mocha overtones from the coffee and chocolate. (Yes, you read right, chocolate) I used half the called for chipotle and just over half the amount of chocolate. (Don’t hate me, but I am not a huge chocolate fan.) So do as your conscience allows. Oh and by the way, the beef shanks were even more tender than the ribs as it turns out! Next time I would just use shanks. It looks like Oso bucco, a fab Italian dish. Just make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go as it is a little unusual. Such as a dish with coffee AND chipotle AND chocolate AND tomatoes…

Here is the beef, the sauce, the brown rice all mingling indecently together next to some discreet salad.
Here is the beef, the sauce, the brown rice all mingling indecently together next to some discreet salad.

Mocha Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 4 pounds short ribs (or ?)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 Tbsp. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped plus 3 Tbsp sauce (I used 1 large Tbsp. of the blended chipotle mixture.)
  • 3 Tbsp. each brown sugar and flour
  • 1 tsp.  ground cumin
  • 1 can (14.5) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups coffee (2 cups hot water mixed with 2 1/2 Tbsp instant coffee granules or your own coffee)
  • 1 cup  beef stock
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I only had dark chocolate, which worked fine, but I used 2.5 oz. Having a kitchen scale is priceless!)
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat the oil in the Dutch oven Crockpot (Or other dutch oven) and heat for 3-4 minutes or until shimmering. Season ribs or other beef with salt and pepper. Brown half the ribs, uncovered 6-8 minutes, turning once. Remove from Dutch Oven and repeat with remaining ribs. Drain the pan if the drippings are more than 2 Tbsp.
  2. Into the hot drippings add the diced onions, garlic, *chipotle peppers with sauce, brown sugar, flour and cumin. Saute for about 2 minutes (add the mushrooms if using).
  3. Dissolve the coffee in the hot water (if needed). Stir in the coffee, tomatoes and beef broth into the Dutch Oven. Cook uncovered until simmering. Remove from heat and add the meat.
  4. Put the lid on it and put in the oven for 2-2 1/2 hours or until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone.
  5. Remove ribs.Skim fat from top of the sauce. Stir in chocolate until melted. Divide ribs and sauce among the serving plates, serving over rice.

*A good tip from a friend of mine, she takes the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and blends the whole thing up then stores it. When she wants it for a recipe, she just  spoons out what she needs. It has been working for me beautifully as well. So I did not worry about the chili and the sauce as though they were two separate things.

Here is the browned meat just starting its incarceration with all the other felons into the Rockcrok and into the oven to think about its life choices.
Here is the browned meat just starting its incarceration with all the other felons into the Rockcrok and into the oven to think about its life choices. (I love this pot, goes on the stovetop, into the oven or microwave and under the broiler, no worries!)
Seems I forgot to braise the mushrooms with the other vegies, so I gave them a quick shake in the skillet and stirred them into the 'stew'.
Seems I forgot to braise the mushrooms with the other veggies, so I gave them a quick shake in the skillet and stirred them into the ‘stew’.
About 3 hours later, give or take, I removed it from the oven and lifted the lid. Oooh..Transformation! Rebirth! Alchemy! Well, no...
About 3 hours later, give or take, I removed it from the oven and lifted the lid. Oooh..Transformation! Rebirth! Alchemy! Well, no…
Here are the bones I removed from the stewiness. They were not attached to anything anymore. Bones-no-more!
Here are the bones I removed from the stewiness. They were not attached to anything anymore. Bones-no-more!

This was a big hit. Just a hint of spiciness, but not too much for my light-weights. All the other flavors mixed together to make it warm and complex. Just wonderful. I started it around 3 pm and we ate at 7. It was done by 6:30, but then there is pulling everything else together. (Like family members from their rooms and getting them to set the table and so on…)

Sorry we didn’t get any pictures of the fab cake we had as a stand by dessert! I would like to share that one. Butter cake with cream cheese icing. So easy too. Darn shame. Well, maybe tomorrow I can get a picture of a little leftover piece. That might do. Because if you like butter cakes, you will want to try this one.

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