When we decided on this recipe we were happy just to have located the main ingredient. Beef short ribs are a cut not often seen in butcher shops here in Ireland, but one of our favorite butchers managed to procure them for us. He also tried cooking some himself and pronounced them “brilliant.”
Irish beef is grass-fed, not hard to believe with all the green grass everywhere. At first it took some getting used to, as the meat was so different from the U.S. corn-fed beef that we’d eaten all of our lives.
Over time we’ve changed our opinion and now love the taste of Irish beef, considered by many to be the best in the world. And as an added bonus, grass-fed beef is much healthier.
We decided to make a flavorful cooking liquid for the short ribs by reducing red wine with onions, carrots, and leeks. We also added dried morel and porcini mushrooms. If morels are not available, double the quantity of porcinis or use any type of dried mushroom you like. If you are lucky enough to have fresh morels or porcinis, we hate you! Seriously, dried mushrooms are fine here and there are much better uses for fresh.
You can serve these on the bone, straight from the cooking bag, but we deboned and shredded the meat. And we puréed the cooking liquid in a blender to make a great sauce.
The first time we tried this, we couldn’t believe the fabulous flavors. So of course we had to try it again, and we used the cooked, shredded meat to make Hachis Parmentier, a French dish similar to Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie. It was great, too.
Warning: If you decide to shred the meat before serving, make sure you don’t devour it all in the process! And note the long cooking time and plan accordingly.
Serves 4 to 6 as an entrée
For the red wine reduction
For the short ribs
- Preheat the water bath to 160°F (71°C).
- Place all of the ingredients for the red wine reduction except the Worcestershire sauce in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Strain the reduction and discard the solids. You should have about 1 cup of liquid. Return to the heat and continue to simmer until reduced to ½ cup. Remove from heat and add the Worcestershire sauce. While the stock is reducing, prepare the mushrooms and beef.
- If using dried morel mushrooms, wash them carefully to remove any grit from the crevices. Place the dried morels and porcinis in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. After 10 minutes, strain the mushrooms and chop them, reserving the soaking liquid. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and ancho chile powder. Add the short ribs and stir to coat all surfaces with the mixture.
- Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the short ribs on all sides, working in batches to avoid crowding. Transfer the browned meat to a platter as you go.
- Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup of the mushroom soaking liquid and add to the red wine reduction.
- Place the meat, mushrooms, leeks, carrots, and red wine reduction in a large food bag and seal using the water displacement method. Alternatively, you could freeze the red wine reduction and then vacuum seal all the ingredients in a bag.
- Cook for 48 hours.
- Remove the meat from the cooking bag and place on a platter or divide among individual serving plates. Transfer the juices from the bag to a blender and purée until smooth. Serve the sauce alongside or atop the short ribs. Alternatively, you can debone and shred the meat and use it in Hachis Parmentier, in hot beef sandwiches, or however you like!
As our short ribs were cooking, we got the idea of using them to make a Shepherd’s Pie, a common dish on menus in Ireland. Talking to people here it became clear that there is a lot of disagreement on what makes a Shepherd’s Pie, depending on where you live.
The consensus of the people we spoke to in our shop was that Shepherd’s Pie is usually made with lamb. In Northern Ireland, where it is called Cottage Pie, it is typically made with beef. We decided to just wing it and make what felt right.
We came up with the recipe below and loved it. Between making it and putting it on paper, we gave a taste to a French friend who is a baker and pastry chef in the French Market, a wonderful shop next to ours. She said, “That’s not shepherd’s pie, it is Hachis Parmentier.” When I got home I was looking at the fabulous cookbook Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan, an American who lives part of the year in Paris. It includes a recipe that is very similar to what we made, and of course it is called Hachis Parmentier.
We made the sauce for this dish by blending together the vegetables and juices left in the bag after the short ribs were removed. We added freshly cooked carrots as well, which we prepared sous vide before adding them to the meat. The final cooking and browning is done in a conventional oven, however.
Serves 4 to 6 as an entrée
For the carrots
For the casserole
- Preheat the water bath to 183°F (84°C).
- Place carrots, butter, and salt in a food bag and vacuum seal. Cook for 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and boil until soft. Run the cooked potatoes and the garlic confit through a food mill or mash with a potato masher. Add cream, milk, hot sauce, egg yolks, and Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
- Preheat a conventional oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Combine the meat, cooked carrots, and about half of the puréed cooking liquid in a saucepan and heat.
- Transfer the meat mixture to an ovenproof casserole. Pipe on the mashed potatoes or scoop them on with a spoon. Cook in a conventional oven for ½ hour. Brown the potatoes under the broiler for a few minutes before serving. Dive in and enjoy.