Blackstrap Molasses-Braised Short Ribs with Cheddar Grit Cake, Stewed Tomato and Okra

Serves 4
By Chef Lia

Ingredients for the Short Ribs:

  • 5 lbs beef short ribs
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 c red wine
  • 3c beef stock
  • ½ c maple syrup
  • 1 c blackstrap molasses

Sachet of:

  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat a large heavy-bottomed oven-safe shallow pot on high flame. Add 4 tbsp cooking oil to the pan. Season the short ribs liberally with salt and black pepper. When the oil begins to smoke, add the beef to the pan. You want to brown all sides of each short rib, getting a nice caramel color. You should brown each side for approximately 3-4 minutes. This process not only helps to seal in the juices, but to add richness to the flavor of the meat as well. When all sides are properly caramelized, remove them from the pan and set them aside. Add your chopped vegetables and garlic o the pan and reduce the heat to medium high. Sauté the vegetables for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally while browning them. When they have nice color, add the tomato paste to coat them, and then deglaze the pan with the red wine. When the wine almost all but evaporates, add the stock, maple syrup, molasses, and the sachet, along with the ribs. Bring it up to a boil on the stove, and then cover pot tightly, with a lid or aluminum foil. Place into the oven and cook for approximately 2 ½ hours. The meat should be almost falling off of the bone. If you intend to serve at a later time, cool in the braising liquid. The short ribs can be made in advance and reheated for serving in the braising jus.

Ingredients for the White Cheddar Grit Cake:

  • 4 c chicken stock or water
  • 1 c instant grits
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 oz grated white cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c panko or any coarse bread crumbs

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock with the salt added to a boil on the stove. Turn the flame down to low so that it is at a light simmer and slowly add the grits, whisking constantly. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the grits are cooked and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Pour into an 8x8 greased pan and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Then slice the solidified grit mixture into 3x3 squares. Remove from pan carefully with a spatula and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the 2 eggs with 1 tsp water. Put the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. You will then dip each grit cake into the egg mixture, coating completely. Then dip it right into the breadcrumbs. You can store these cakes refrigerated between sheets of parchment for a day until you would like to serve them.

To serve: Preheat oven to 375°. Heat 1 tbsp cooking oil in a heavy bottomed sauté pan on medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer place the grit cake inside. Cook on one side for about 2-3 minutes, until the bread crumbs begin to turn golden brown. With a spatula, flip the grit cake and put it into the oven. Cook for 7-8 minutes. Serve Immediately.

Ingredients for the Stewed Tomatoes and Okra:

  • 4 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, ½ “dice
  • ½ medium onion, julienne
  • 3 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 1 ½ c okra, sliced into ¼” rounds
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • 4 oz chicken stock
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large, shallow sauté pan on medium-low flame. Add the bacon and slowly render out the fat, stirring it occasionally to ensure that it cooks evenly. When the bacon starts to become crisp, (approximately 8 minutes cooking time), add the onions and garlic. Sweat them out, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent, for about 5 minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, chicken stock, chipotle, and oregano. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break up and okra is tender. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

**The good thing about all of these recipes is that they can be prepared a day or two prior to serving. All you have to do is heat the short ribs and the stewed tomatoes, and crisp the grit cake.