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Braised short ribs hearty, comforting meal

Wed., April 19, 2006, midnight

Early spring chills won’t stand a chance against this recipe from “Christina’s Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Northwest Island Kitchen.”

Christina Orchid, who has received much praise in the 25 years since she opened her namesake restaurant on Orcas Island, gives away many of the secrets of her restaurant dishes and her pantry in this cookbook. Her Braised Short Ribs with Spicy Sweet Potatoes will erase any lingering winter worries.

The book opens with tales from her childhood working on her grandparents’ ranch near the Wallula Gap on the scablands of eastern Washington and summers on her parents’ farm in Westsound on Orcas Island.

The book is a celebration of the Northwest’s best offerings with preparations that let the ingredients shine. I know I should have chosen the Roasted Halibut with Potato Sorrel Hash and Sweet Pepper Butter or the Sockeye with Champagne Cream and Steamed Potatoes, but my eyes kept coming back to this recipe. I can’t wait to try it.

Braised Short Ribs with Spicy Sweet Potatoes

From “Christina’s Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Northwest Island Kitchen”

2 tablespoons peanut oil

7 pounds beef short ribs

2 cups tomato juice

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons malt vinegar


Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup cold water

1/4 cup unbleached white flour

For the Sweet Potatoes:

5 large sweet potatoes


Peanut oil for sautéing

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Heat the peanut oil in an oven-safe Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Brown the short ribs on all sides. In a medium saucepan, combine the tomato juice, onion, garlic, cumin, cloves, cayenne, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Pour over the browned ribs and braise in the oven for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Place the meat on a platter in a warm place.

Measure the liquid in the pan by pouring it into a measuring cup; add water or red wine, if necessary, to make 2 cups. Return the liquid to the pan. In a small bowl, blend the cold water with the flour to make a smooth paste. Bring the liquid in the pan to a boil and gradually whisk in the paste. Whisk briskly until thickened and remove from the heat. Pour the sauce over the short ribs and serve with sweet potatoes.

To make the potatoes: Cook the sweet potatoes whole in boiling, salted water for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Chill.

When ready to serve, peel the potatoes with a paring knife and cut into long wedges. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Saute the potato wedges for about 2 minutes per side, until dark and crispy. Drain on paper towels and serve with the ribs and spicy sauce.

Yield: 6 servings

Approximate nutrition per serving: Unable to calculate.


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