PORT-BRAISED SHORT RIBS WITH STAR ANISE

TIME: 2 HOURS, PLUS AT LEAST 1 HOUR MARINATING

YIELD: 6 SERVINGS

Port wine gives these falling-off-the-bone short ribs a gentle winy sweetness while star anise lends a little licorice-like spice. They are intense, meaty, and especially wonderful over a bed of buttery polenta (see this page).Look for English short ribs, which are cut into large chunks including the bone. They have the best texture for this dish. And if you really hate licorice but love short ribs, you can substitute ¼ teaspoon ground allspice for the star anise.

INGREDIENTS:

4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs

3 bay leaves, torn in half

2½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 star anise pods, crumbled

5 garlic cloves: 3 grated on a Microplane, 2 minced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

2 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks

Thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick coins

½ tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1-inch-wide strip of orange zest (use a vegetable peeler)

½ cup ruby or tawny port wine

½ cup beef or chicken stock, preferably homemade (this page, or use water)

¼ cup chopped soft herbs (chives, tarragon, basil, parsley, or a combination), for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put the short ribs in a bowl and rub them with the bay leaves, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and the pepper, star anise, and grated garlic. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.
  2. Using the sauté function, set to high if available, heat the oil in the pressure cooker (or do this in a skillet over high heat). In batches, brown the ribs on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side, transferring them to a large bowl as they finish (or transfer the ribs to the pressure cooker pot if you browned them in a skillet).
  3. Reduce the heat to medium (if your sauté function is not adjustable, unplug the pressure cooker for a few seconds to let it cool down a bit before proceeding). Stir the leeks, carrots, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt into the pressure cooker (or skillet). Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 8 minutes; then stir in the minced garlic, ginger, and flour and cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Stir in the orange zest, port, and stock. Then nestle the ribs back into the pot (or pour the sauce from the skillet over the ribs in the pressure cooker). Cover and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
  5. Transfer the ribs to a large bowl, and turn on the sauté function to reduce the liquid left in the cooker until it is thickened and saucy, about 10 minutes. Pour it over the ribs and serve, garnished with the herbs.

COOK IT SLOW

Cook on high for 5 to 7 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours.

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