Crazin’ for a Braising

July 8, 2007 on 5:28 pm | By | In Recipes | 4 Comments

Braised oxtailsThe other day I was overcome with client envy. No, it wasn’t their lifestyle I coveted (although I’m sure I could get used to it); I yearned to have a refrigerator full of chef-prepared meals. All I’ve been getting lately are bean tostadas and pizza. (Okay, so they have been pretty tasty, and yes, they were prepared by a chef. But she’s been increasingly lazy with our dinners).

The one dish in particular that piqued my taste buds was my adaptation of the CIA’s Korean braised beef short ribs served at St. Andrews Cafe (it’s one of four student-run restaurants on campus and features healthy cooking techniques. I attended one of the culinary bootcamps a couple years ago and dined at St. Andrews our first night). All of us who enjoyed the ribs that night did nothing short of swoon. The beef was fall-apart tender and cloaked in a velvety smooth sauce. You would never guess it didn’t contain an ounce of butter.

I was surprised they agreed to share the recipe, but once I looked at the ingredients and preparation, I knew I’d have to make several modifications if I were to prepare it in a home kitchen. It not only was for 30 servings, it called for gallons of veal stock and consomme — ingredients most home chefs don’t have at their disposal. But I was determined and after several tinkerings I believe I’ve come up with a reasonable facsimile. They’re not as sublime as the original, and to save time I’ve included some beurre manié (butter kneaded with flour) as a final thickener.

For my client I used traditional beef short ribs cut into 3-inch pieces. However, when it came to my meal, I remembered the oxtails tucked away in our freezer. I originally bought them for beef stock, along with 7 pounds of beef bones from Alderspring Ranch. But I’ve also heard of them being used in a main dish and was eager to give them a try. They take well to braising, and besides, we’re trying to cut down on our red meat consumption (I figured they’d yield just a few small portions of meat; we’d then drizzle the sauce over rice).

In case you’ve never seen an oxtail, here’s a pic:
OxtailI cut it into small portions, dredged it in flour seasoned with ginger, garlic & onion powders, salt and pepper and placed it on a rack on top of some mirepoix.
This roasted for about 45 minutes, or until the oxtails were crusty brown and the vegetables started to caramelize (because the oxtails were so small I pulled them out first and let the veggies continue to roast. If using beef short ribs then everything should be finished at the same time).
Oxtail to roast
As the veggies were starting to caramelize I stirred in some brown sugar and continued to roast for about 15 minutes. I deglazed with a mixture of mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce and beef stock (I happened to have some homemade, but store-bought works well too) then added the browned oxtails back into the pan. I placed a sheet of parchment paper directly on top of the oxtails to seal in the juices, covered the pan and let it braise for about a hour and a half until the oxtails were tender. After straining the sauce I whisked in the beurre manié to thicken it.

The result? Next time I’ll save the oxtails for stock. Mind you, they were very tasty, but it took too much effort to get to the meat. Oxtails are rather fatty, and it wasn’t very pleasant having to gnaw around the fat and bone. The sauce, however, was delicious served over wild rice with peas.

Braised Korean-style Short Ribs
(Adapted from the Culinary Institute of America)
Serves 6

6-7 pounds of beef short ribs, trimmed
Salt and pepper, as needed
Powdered ginger, as needed
Powdered garlic, as needed
Powdered onion, as needed
Flour, as needed

1 large onion, medium dice
1 carrot, medium dice
1 rib celery, medium dice
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1 quart beef broth

2 tablespoons butter mixed with 2 tablespoons flour

Toss ribs in flour seasoned with the ginger, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Place mirepoix on the bottom of a roasting pan and place ribs on a rack on top of the veggies. Sear in a 450-degree convection oven until ribs are deep golden brown and veggies begin to caramelize. Remove rack with ribs and set aside. Mix brown sugar into mirepoix continue to roast until sugar caramelizes with the veggies. Deglaze with the mirin, vinegar, soy sauce and stock and add ribs back to the pan. Place a sheet of parchment paper directly on top of the ribs and cover the pan with foil. Reduce oven temperature to 300 convection and braise until ribs are tender, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours (turn occasionally to ensure even cooking).

Place ribs on a cutting board and cut off bones and fat. Strain the sauce, place in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in beurre manié until sauce is thickened. Serve over ribs.


  1. The CIA does some fabulous Asian recipes. I worked with them for a while (through my job in the beef industry) and they whipped up some fabulous South East Asian dishes for us…yummy. Your adaptation sounds (and looks) great!

    Comment by Caffienated Cowgirl — July 9, 2007 #

  2. This looks so good. I will try it and let you know how it turns out!

    Comment by Terri — July 21, 2007 #

  3. Please do!

    Comment by ovens2betsy — July 21, 2007 #

  4. Hi Betsy – just wanted to let you know that I gave you an award! Stop by my blog to pick it up :o)

    Comment by Caffienated Cowgirl — July 24, 2007 #

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