Honestly, this is probably one of my top 5 favorite recipes of all time. The flavors are deep and complex – you taste something different with every bite. The cocoa doesn’t make this taste like chocolate at all, but instead lends a deep, smoky, earthy flavor. The star anise and cinnamon in the Chinese five spice powder adds warmth and usually ends up with a reaction along the lines of “what is that flavor? I can’t place it, but it’s delicious!”
Waiting for this dish to finish cooking is agony. 3 hours of cooking. 2o minutes of resting.
The smell will make you want to pop open the pot and eat it before it’s ready, but don’t! Patience is key. I’m working on a slow cooker version of this – stay tuned!
3 hours later….
While the short ribs are resting, let’s make some grits to go with it!
Cocoa and Chinese Five Spice Braised Short Ribs
makes 4 servings in ~3 hours
adapted from wsj
8 beef short ribs (about 4-5 lbs, bone-in)
sea salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 slices bacon, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 whole medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 – 2 cups beef or chicken broth (enough to cover ribs)
1 orange, juice and zest
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
3 tsp Chinese five spice powder
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350F.
Season ribs with salt and pepper then dredge in flour. Set aside.
In a large dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy and all fat is rendered out. Remove bacon and set aside. Add olive oil to the bacon grease left in the pot and raise the heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove ribs and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium and add onions, celery, shallots and garlic to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape all those little flavor bombs of brown bits at the bottom of the pan (look at you, deglazing things!). Bring to a boil and cook for a couple more minutes.
Add in the soy sauce, 1 cup of broth, freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 tsp salt. Add in the orange juice and zest, bay leaves, thyme, Chinese five spice powder, brown sugar and cocoa powder and stir to combine. Taste the broth and add more salt and pepper if needed. Add the ribs back into the pot – they should be completely covered in liquid. Add additional broth if needed.
Put on the lid and place pot in the oven. Cook at 350F for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325F and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. The ribs should be fork-tender and pretty much falling off of the bone.
Remove the pot from oven and allow to sit, lid on, for at least 20 minutes before serving. Right before serving, At the last minute, skim the fat off the top of the liquid. Serve with rice, potatoes or the sesame grits recipe below.
makes 4-6 servings
3 1/2 cups milk
1 cup quick-cooking grits (not instant)
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp sesame oil, to taste
In a medium sauce pan, bring milk to a boil. Slowly whisk in grits, stirring constantly until all the grits have been incorporated.
Simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add more milk if grits become too thick.
Stir in butter until melted. Stir in sesame oil. Add additional salt, pepper or sesame oil to taste.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours