Shades of beige blanketed the yard. That, instill, is notable though. Just seeing the beige meant that the temperatures finally warmed enough to melt the longstanding snow that has been seemingly hanging around since the very beginning of winter. It was one of those days we habitual grillers dream about over the winter months. A little less harsh, with the sun shining down as if to say, “Here ya go. I’m giving you a break today”. A bit of a January thaw, with what the weather gurus call a southerly breeze streaming across our face, activating a churning in our belly that desires something hot off the grill.
While surveying the situation, I only had one thought.
Why did I put these socks on with the hole in the toe?
I mean, really, it’s supremely annoying walking around and constantly feeling that hole in the toe of your sock.
But this wasn’t the time to worry about such minor inconveniences. Because there was one thing out there that in fact, wasn’t beige, and that was trusty old Weber. It would soon be huffing and puffing with a hickory enhanced fire, fueling a dutch oven full of Guinness braised short ribs, garlic, onion, celery and carrots. We shall indeed eat well on this night, but only if we get started now, so start we shall.
While the cast iron was sitting over the fire, getting up to temp, the short ribs were lined up,
Then sprinkled generously with kosher salt and seasoned black pepper.
Then they took a tumble in about a quarter cup of flour, and waited patiently for their starring role.
Rather than just using a little cooking oil, I cut up a bit of bacon, because you know, it’s bacon, and tossed it into the dutch oven, now blazing hot over the hardwood fire.
After it is properly fried, the bacon can be removed and set aside, so as to start searing those floured up shorties on all sides, getting ’em all crusty and beefy looking.
After the ribs are seared all around, I pulled them out of the pan, and set them on the indirect side of the grill to continue being recipients of the hickory smoke. We’ll be getting back to them in just a few minutes.
Add the onion and garlic, sautéing until they start to soften and turn translucent.
Add the carrots and celery, giving the mixture a good stir, until everything starts getting vibrant and tender.
Now, raise that bottle of Guinness in thanks to the sun that decided to grace us today, and pour about two cups worth into the pot. With the bottle I have in front of me, it’ll leave me a good six ounces to quench my budding thirst. Pour in the same amount of beef stock, bring to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes, or until those six ounces are gone, whichever comes first. Nestle the beef ribs into the mixture, put the lid on, and leave it be. Oh, and if you have extreme discipline, and haven’t eaten those previously fried bacon bits yet, you can toss them in the pot now as well.
Now…well…now is a chance to revisit that great pit jockey move that’s been lacking over the past couple weeks during our snow and extreme wind chills. The pit side chair is pulled out, dusted off, and set down forthright, near the grill. Armed with a good book in one hand, and a freshly popped cold beverage in the other, it is time for the cross-legged, leaning back, relaxed, grill side pose to commence. Don’t get too comfortable though. You can’t just get the drowsy eyes and drift off, because you’ll occasionally have to lift your body out of that chair, approach the grill, and perform the occasional dutch oven twirl. It’s a practiced move, but easily learned. Give it a try, picking up the dutch oven, twirling it a full 180 degrees, and setting it back down. That’s it, now do it every half hour or so to guarantee even cooking throughout, until you reach the 2 1/2 hour mark. Roughly 5 turns, right? Right. The short ribs will bubble and cook into a beautiful pot of tender beef, rich color, layers of flavor, and mouthwatering aroma.
After 5 turns, at the 2 1/2 hour mark, I hoisted the dutch oven and made a beeline into the kitchen to let it rest while polenta was being stirred with the strength and precision of an Ivy League rowing regatta.
You know what to do next. Grab a bowl, dollop a goodly amount of that creamy smooth polenta smack dab in the middle of the bowl, and lay a short rib or two on top, snuggling them into the polenta. Get a helping of the veggies and Guinness based sauce, chop and scatter a bit of fresh parsley over the dish to make it look all nifty, and dig in to a hearty, soul pleasing supper that’ll have you unbuckling your trousers while kicking back and fighting to keep your eyelids open. Delicious!
Because Life Is Better Wood Fired