Slow- Braised Short Ribs (Plate Flanken) with Spinach

by Adam Perry Lang, featured in the 2009 Food & Wine Annual Coobook p. 152 and online here

Serves 10

This kosher-for-passover version of chulent by chef Adam Perry Lan first roasts short ribs (plate flanken), then braises them with porcini mushrooms until the meat is fall-apart tender.  He finishes the chulent by string matzah farfel into the pan juices until it plumps up.  Baby spinach and crunchy sea salt complete the dish.

2 T garlic salt
1 T sweet paprika
1/2 c. canola oil
2 3-bone sections of short ribs (about 9lbs total), trimmed of excess fat
1 oz driec porcini mushrooms (3 cups)
3 cups boiling water
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 very large white onion, diced
2 carrots, finely diced
4 celery ribs, finely diced
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb white button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
8 ounces matzah farfel (4 cups), finely crushed
4 cubs baby spinach (4 oz)
2 T flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Coarse sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 275°. Set a large rack in a very large roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine the garlic salt with the sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of black pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup of the canola oil. Rub the spice paste on both sides of the short ribs and transfer to the rack in the roasting pan, meaty side up. Roast for 4 hours, until the meat is tender and pulls away from the bones. Transfer the short ribs to a platter and pour off the fat in the roasting pan. Increase the oven temperature to 325°.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, soak the porcini in the boiling water until they are softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the porcini and reserve 2 cups of the soaking liquid. Rinse and coarsely chop the porcini mushrooms.
  3. Place the roasting pan over a burner and add the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, white mushrooms and chopped porcini mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the beef stock, the reserved 2 cups of porcini mushroom soaking liquid and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Return the short ribs to the roasting pan, meaty side up. Cover the pan very tightly with foil and braise in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the meat is tender. Remove the foil and spoon off as much fat as possible from the pan juices. Transfer the short ribs to a platter.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of canola oil. Add the matzo farfel and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir the toasted farfel into the pan juices in the roasting pan.
  6. Return the short ribs to the pan, nestling them into the liquid and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until the matzo farfel is moistened and plump.
  7. Transfer the short ribs to a cutting board. Remove the bones and slice the meat across the grain. Stir the spinach into the farfel, season with salt and pepper and let wilt. Spoon the farfel onto a platter and top with the meat. Sprinkle the parsley and coarse sea salt on top and serve.
Make Ahead The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Slice the meat cold and rewarm, covered, in a 325° oven. Notes Matzo farfel is available in the kosher section of supermarkets during Passover. To make this dish without observing the holiday’s dietary restrictions, substitute pearled barley. Stir 1 1/2 cups of pearled barley into the sautéed vegetables in Step 3 and toast for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the wine, then proceed with the recipe (eliminating Step 5 altogether).
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