Lazy Sunday

One of the best-kept secrets among cooks is that there is no such thing as a bad cut of meat. The French, especially, have a long tradition of taking the cheap, the cast-off, what others believed was inedible or beneath them, and creating magnificent, succulent dishes that many now consider delicacies. The secret is time.

Take a cheap, tough piece of meat, cook it long enough, and you'll end up with tender, delicious food that will have you returning for seconds, if not thirds. And there's no better time to go low and slow than Sunday afternoon.

Beer Braised Ribs

The dry:

  • Begin with about three pounds of Chuck flanken style ribs (whether or not that's a real cut of meat is up for debate; I'm just quoting the package), well seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Three to five cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
  • About four thin slices of fresh ginger--1/8th an inch by about 3/4 of an inch

The wet:

  • Three tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Three tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 12 oz brown ale (I used a large, single-serving pint of Newcastle Brown Ale for my recipe, which worked out great because I was able to drink the remainder)
  • 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce (not too sweet!)

What you do:

  1. Place the oil in a heavy stew pot and heat to medium-high
  2. Brown the beef in the bottom of the pot, between 1 - 2 minutes per side
    • DON'T overload the bottom of the pot. Work in batches; It will prevent the heat from dropping too drastically.
      As the meat is browned, move it off to a bowl on the side.
  3. Toss in the garlic and ginger and give it a vigorous stir
  4. Add several splashes of the ale to de-glaze the pot's bottom
  5. Return the meat to the pot and pour in enough of the ale to just cover the beef
  6. Add the rice wine vinegar (for brightness), give everything a good stir and lower the heat to a simmer.
  7. Cover and let stand for approximately 1 hour--you don't have to stir, touch, mess with, enhance, or any way do anything with the meat except enjoy the aroma as it fills your house and watch the game on television.
  8. After an hour, begin preheating your oven to 350 degrees
  9. After another 30 minutes, remove the pot from the stovetop, stir in the barbecue sauce and place the pot into the oven for another 20 to 30 minutes

Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes and a good, bright tasting vegetable, like peas or green beans. Makes two heaping servings with enough left over for a couple delicious midnight snacks.

Depending on the amount of barbecue flavor you end up with, you might want to pair the dish with a good hoppy Ale. However, if you go the wine route, any well-structured wine with fine tannins will be able to take the succulent gelatin that coats the ribs when they're served.

For this dish, I went with a 2004, Nine Stones Barossa Shiraz. This luscious, smoky wine has aromas of candied fruit and chocolate with berry overtones that hinted to the black. The wine exhibits definite fruit across the palate, but has tannins and body enough so as not be overwhelming. The finish is long and delicate, leaving traces of mocha and berry. Definitely delicious and a wine that might just be worth cellaring.

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