While I made the lentils, vegetables and braised beef separately, this dish adapts well to being served family style in one big bowl. The lentils can be spooned around the short ribs, and the diced vegetables scattered over the lentils.
Braised Short Ribs with Lentils and Winter Vegetables
4-5 beef short ribs, trimmed, without bones
Salt, to taste, divided
Black pepper, to taste, divided
2 tablespoons cooking oil or lard
1 quart beef broth, such as Pacific Organic Beef Broth, divided
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 bay leaf
Several sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup green lentils, soaked in cold water for an hour, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, if desired
1 large, firm turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 leeks, trimmed and cut into 2-3-inch slices, using some of the green
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water
For the ribs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper ribs generously. On the stove, heat the lard or oil in a braising pan (one that will go into the oven). When the oil is hot, sear the short ribs for a minute or so on each side. To the pan add 2 cups of the beef broth, along with the wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cover the pan and put in the oven. Short ribs should cook until they are very tender. Take the lid of the pan for the last 15 minutes of cooking or so, to reduce the liquid. Ribs will take an hour or more.
For the lentils: Put the lentils into a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the 2 remaining cups of beef broth, plus another cup of water. In a skillet on the stove, heat the olive oil, then sauté the garlic, celery and onion until the onion is translucent. Add to the lentils. Add the thyme and cayenne pepper, if using, to the lentils. Bring the lentils to a gentle simmer, cover and let them cook until they are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, when they are cooked.
For the vegetables: Put the diced turnip and carrots into a steamer. Put the sliced leek on top. Cover and steam. Check after about 10-15 minutes. If leeks are bright green, take a few slices out to garnish the bowl. Let the vegetables cook the rest of the way.
When the short ribs are tender, and the liquid reduced, set the ribs aside in a warm place. Scrape the bottom of the braising pan to get any cooked meat bits up, then strain liquid into a bowl. Set the braising pan back on the stove over medium heat and pour the strained liquid back in. When it is hot and bubbling, mix together the flour and water in a cup, then whisk it slowly into the liquid. If it gets too thick, add a little more water. Season to taste.
To serve: Spoon the lentils into a large, shallow serving bowl, such as a pasta bowl. If there is a lot of cooking liquid left from the lentils, use a slotted spoon to strain it out. Put the short ribs onto the lentils in the center of the bowl. Spoon some of the sauce over the top of the beef, then put the rest in a gravy bowl to serve on the side. Sprinkle the steamed, diced vegetables around the dish, and put some of the bright green leek slices around for color.
Makes 2-3 servings.
From Bonnie Walker, SavorSA