Ask Peter: Beef short ribs (+ recipe)
I just had a trip to London on Air New Zealand in business class. I really enjoyed the food you designed for them, especially the beef ribs. I was worried because I thought there would be bones in the food, but it was one of the nicest beef meals I have ever had. Is it possible to get the recipe please, and exactly what is the cut of meat, as I would love to cook it at home. Many thanks and I enjoy your column in Bite!
It’s terrific to get such good feedback on the food I’m creating for our national airline. For many people who travel a lot, myself included, flying can become a bit of a chore. It’s enjoyable and usually a little exciting, but after the takeoff which I always find exhilarating, you’re then faced with 12 or so hours to Los Angeles or slightly less to Hong Kong. And one has to think of how to entertain oneself.
The film and TV selection is good, but what helps more than anything else is having a lovely dinner or lunch where great food is matched with fabulous wines — and this is where I know our national airline excels.
Obviously the food needs to be made in advance (a combination of timetable logistics, the lack of sharp knives being allowed on planes and numerous safety requirements etc) and so some of the most successful dishes, in my opinion, tend to be moist, or braised, as this allows the meal to stay juicy and succulent while being reheated. It might seem strange, but microwaves aren’t allowed on planes for safety reasons, so all food is gently reheated on board.
Like any stew you’d cook yourself at home, they’re always better a few days later and the dish you ate — Braised beef short rib with spring onion cake, wild mushrooms, wilted spinach and truffled chervil sea salt butter — is a perfect example of such a dish.
I’m giving you the recipe for the ribs (to give the whole recipe including garnish will take up a whole page) but I just want to touch on the fact that the secret to reheating is to keep the dish tightly covered, cook it over a medium heat for a longer time rather than a high heat for a short period (it’ll burn and not get hot enough in the middle of the dish) and to give it a gentle stir from time to time to distribute the heat evenly.
Braised beef short rib
Ask your butcher for boneless beef short ribs, or cook on the bone and remove once cooked. Allow 160g of meat per person.
4 x 160g boneless beef short ribs (or 8 x 70g pieces)
2 Tbsp flour
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, cut into 1cm lengths
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
4 stalks thyme
2 bay leaves
½ tsp coarsely crushed black pepper
200ml red wine (pinot noir or syrah would be ideal)
600ml beef or veal stock
- Heat oven to 160C. Dust the beef ribs with the flour and a little salt (don’t use more than ⅛ teaspoon of salt).
- Sear it all over in a hot pan with ½ tablespoon oil until browned. Remove the ribs and place in a deep-sided dish just large enough to hold them comfortably.
- To the same pan, add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook over medium heat till golden, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste and herbs and cook for a minute then add the pepper and wine and bring to the boil. Cook over high heat to reduce the wine by half, stirring to prevent it sticking on the bottom.
- Add the stock and bring to the boil then carefully pour over the beef. The liquid should almost cover the meat. Place a sheet of baking parchment on top and then a double layer of foil and seal the dish tightly. Place in the oven for 2½ hours. Peel the foil back and if the meat is tender and falls apart easily when pulled, then it’s ready. Take from the oven and carefully remove the meat using a slotted spoon.
- Strain the vegetables and cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a pan and cook over medium heat to reduce by two thirds. This is why it’s important that you didn’t add too much salt initially as it would now be too salty. Pour back over the ribs and warm through to serve.
The spring onion and potato cake is made from mashed potato mixed with egg, sliced spring onions and a little flour to bind it, before being shaped into patties and panfried until golden.
The wild mushrooms are a mixture of four kinds of mushrooms cooked in butter and olive oil.
The chervil butter is a mixture of truffle oil, softened butter, roughly chopped chervil and sea salt all whipped up together.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you’re stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.