Sweet and Spicy Braised Short Ribs with Chocolate and Cayenne
- Yield 4-8 servings
- 8-16 pieces short rib bones
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 1 large carrot chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 10 cloves garlic minced
- 28 fluid ounces Shiraz, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, or Tempranillo wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 leaves bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Zataran's cayenne pepper
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chopped bits
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley chopped
- 1 small lemon, juice and zest
- Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Dry ribs with paper towels and season them with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large ovenproof pan (with lid for later) or Dutch oven on medium high, then add ribs in batches so as not to crowd, turning them until they are browned. Set ribs to the side and discard all but about a Tbsp of fat.
In the same pan add onion, celery, and carrot to brown; in a few minutes add the minced garlic, but reserve 1Tbsp for later. Get onion nice and lightly browned, stirring often for about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and broth, de-glazing the bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a slow boil.
Return the ribs to the pan, add the thyme, bay leaves, *cayenne pepper, and finally sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top. Remove from heat.
Cover the pan with foil and top with the cover itself so that it is sealed nicely. Cook in the oven about 3 hours until the meat is falling off the bones. Pick out ribs and place on the side, covering with foil to keep warm. Scrape and strain remaining liquid in pan into a bowl, pressing mixture to acquire all that good juice from the vegies. Skim any fat that you can or want to discard and return the liquid to the pan over high heat to reduce by about ½, for maybe 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and place the ribs carefully back in the sauce trying to maintain bone and meat intact, purely for artistic reasons. Heat through for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, finally chop the parsley; grate the lemon for its zest and squeeze for its juice, then stir in the remaining garlic to create a paste. When you arrange the ribs on a platter to serve, distribute the paste over them. Depending on the consistency of your sauce you may want to serve over the ribs first before the paste, or in a gravy boat on the side or both.
*This dish has Cajun ‘leanings’ so serve it up with all the accoutrements to make it festive, Cheri, and have another bottle of that good red wine!