Braising recipes are perfect for Dutch Oven cooking. This cooking method relies on the same philosophy as the success of the A-10 Warthog tank-killer airplanes–low and slow. (I love those planes! When I was hunting grizzly bear one time in Alaska, not far from Healy, a couple of Warthog pilots from the base in Fairbanks gave us our own private airshow! It was 20 minutes I’ll never forget.)
In braising you cook meat at low temperature for a long time–hours and hours. This makes braising recipes very forgiving as well. As long as you don’t boil the liquid and you never let the pot run dry, then there isn’t much you can do to ruin a dish you are braising. It takes an amazingly small amount of coals to keep a preheated Dutch Oven around 200 degrees. Work up to it, and don’t over do it.
I came across this particular recipe one day when I found a bag of Ancho Chiles sitting in the back of the pantry. These dried chiles keep forever … or close to it … as best I can tell. I started with a basic recipe I found on line and made my own adaptations from there. I made the chile sauce about a week before I actually braised the ribs and enjoyed a lot of other great uses for the sauce along the way, too.
We served this recipe to guests with fresh corn bread and camp style beans. Just ladle some braising liquid onto the split, steaming cornbread and into the bean pot. MMMMMMM! MMM!
Ingredients for Ancho Chile Sauce:
- 6 dried Ancho chiles
- 3 cups boiling hot water
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in Adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons of the Adobo sauce
- 4 tablespoons real maple syrup
- ½ cup raisins
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons of instant coffee granules
Directions for making the chile sauce:
- Soak Ancho chiles in the boiling hot water (off the heat) until well-softened. It takes about 20-30 minutes. Remove to drain in a colander or on paper towels.
- Remove the stems, seeds and ribs from the chiles. Give the soaking water a quick taste. If it’s not too bitter, reserve it for use in braising the meat. I stored it in a Mason jar in the refrigerator.
- Put the Ancho chiles into a blender along with all the other ingredients. Puree until nearly smooth. Add a little fresh water if you wish to thin it out a bit. Use your judgment.
- Sample the sauce. If you want it sweeter, add more of the sweet ingredients like maple syrup, sugar, molasses, raisins, etc. If you want it more pungent or smoky add a bit more instant coffee or chipotles.
- Store in quart-sized Mason jar the in refrigerator.
Experiment with the sauce. Try a spoonful on eggs, a burger … whatever. We sautéed some shrimp and put a bit of the sauce on them–mighty good! You won’t be disappointed.
Ingredients for Braised Ribs:
- 7-9 pounds beef short ribs (this will serve about 8-10 big eaters)
- 4 tablespoons peanut oil
- The Ancho chile sauce
- The reserved liquid from soaking the Ancho chiles
- ½ cup good red wine
- Additional fresh water as needed
Directions for Cooking the Ribs:
- Preheat 14-inch Dutch oven to searing hot over coals, fire, or grill.
- Brown all sides of meat in at least three batches in the Dutch oven. Start with about 1/3 of peanut oil in pot, and add more as batches require. Set browned ribs aside.
- When all meat is browned, use red wine to deglaze the Dutch oven and scrape up all the delicious browned bits stuck to the bottom as the juice simmers.
- Pour in all the other liquid ingredients except additional water. Stir thoroughly to combine.
- Quickly taste and adjust seasonings, heat, and sweetness to your taste.
- Carefully using tongs, place meat into the liquid at the bottom of the pot in a single layer. Snuggle them tightly. Liquid should come up the meat about ¾ of the way on the meat, but not cover it. Increase volume with fresh water, or decrease with a turkey baster. (Save the liquid as you may need to replace it later.)
- Cook for at least 3 – 3 ½ hours with temperature inside the Dutch oven at approximately 200°. Check frequently to see that the liquid is not boiling. If liquid starts to disappear, add a bit more water. A Camp Chef remote cooking thermometer is a huge help in maintaining just the right temperature. When the meat easily cuts with light pressure from spoon, it’s ready.