For a recent dinner party, I thought a slow-cooker dish would allow me to have everything prepared well before our guests arrived. Michele Scicolone’s The French Slow Cooker provided the perfect recipe for a blustery mid-winter evening: “Short Ribs with Red Wine and Prunes.”
With a cooking time between 8 to 10 hours on low and our guests arriving at 6PM, I figured I’d have to get everything into the slow cooker by 8 or 9AM. So, with prepping the aromatics and browning two batches of ribs, I planned a starting time around 6AM.
Well, as the saying goes about “the best laid plans,” things went astray when I over slept and arose after 9 that morning. My only solution was to pass on the slow cooker and go with the tried-and-true enameled cast-iron Dutch oven for the braise. Fortunately, the internet provided some helpful guidelines for converting the recipe for the stove that suggested reducing the cooking time to approximately 3 hours at 325°F and increasing the amount of braising liquid by about a cup since there is more evaporation with an oven than with a slow cooker.
With those minor adjustments, I was able to start cooking around noon without any rushing.
To compensate for any evaporation, I increased the wine from 1 cup to 1½ cups and cooked the short ribs just shy of the recommended 3 hours. Shortly after 5PM, my ribs were perfectly done to the fall-off-the-bone stage, and all that was left to do before sitting down to dinner a couple of hours later was to skim off the fat, stir in some Dijon mustard, and reheat the ribs.
Like all Scicolone’s recipes, this one is fool proof and yielded an outstanding result. Rolling the ribs in flour after seasoning with salt and pepper made it easy to achieve perfect browning. In addition, the slow sautéing of the aromatics until golden extracted all their essence. The rich meaty flavors of the ribs were heightened by the prunes, whose sweet character was balanced by the fruity acidity from wine and the spice from the mustard. As the recipe suggested, we served the ribs accompanied by buttered egg noodles, the ideal vehicle for the sauce.
Short Ribs with Red Wine and Prunes (adapted for the oven from Michele Scicolone’s The French Slow Cooker)
4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, well trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour (The original recipe called for 1/3 cup.)
¼ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ teaspoon herbes de Provence (The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon.)
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cup dry red wine (Used extra ½ cup to compensate for oven evaporation.)
3 tablespoons tomato paste (I used generous tablespoons.)
½ cup chopped pitted prunes
4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat to oven to 325°F, with a shelf on the middle rack.
2. Bring the ribs to room temperature and dry well.
3. Season the ribs with salt and pepper to taste.
4. On a large plate, roll the ribs in the flour and tap off any excess.
5. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the ribs in batches, turning them occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 20 minutes in total. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep them warm.
6. If necessary, remove some of the fat from the Dutch oven. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot, stirring often over medium heat, until golden, about 15 minutes.
7. Stir in the garlic and herbs, and cook for 1 minute more, being careful not to brown the garlic.
8. Add the wine and cook, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until the wine comes to a boil. Cook for 1 minute.
9. Stir in the tomato paste, prunes, and broth.
10. Return the ribs to the pot along with any residual juices.
11. Cover the pot and cook on the middle shelf of the oven for about 3 hours, or until the ribs are tender and the meat is coming away from the bone.
12. Skim off the fat from the surface of the liquid. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the mustard. Taste for seasoning.
13. Serve the ribs in warmed bowls, sprinkled with the chopped parsley and accompanied by egg noodles.
Wine Pairing: Cotes du Rhone, Cabernet Sauvignon
4 thoughts on “Short Ribs with Red Wine & Prunes”
Great flavors in this dish. I especially like the use of prunes, and finishing the sauce with mustard.
Definitely a good choice for relaxed entertaining! 🙂
Thanks, Ronit, for your kind words. The prunes did indeed add a lot to the dish.
Reblogged this on Table Wine.