Oscarworthy East West Short Ribs

In food on 02/22/2009 at 7:27 pm

A couple years back, while visiting the Aunt in Santa Cruz, we were gifted a dutch oven. Sitting pretty in vermilion on top of our cabinet for awhile, we were finally prompted to use it when one of our pots konked out. A whole new world of cooking has dawned…

I had always assumed our model was a knock-off of Le Creuset, given it said ‘doufeu’ on the lid, which wasn’t really a lid, but an inverted plate of sorts. There was a concave dip in the middle, like a shallow ditch. On the bottom, ‘cousances’ was stamped into the vessel.  After doing some research on how to use the enameled cast iron behemoth, we were shocked to find out we in fact had the real thing, and on top of that, it was a mutant specialty tool, top of the line technology.

The shape of the doufeu lid, says Wiki, “allows the cook to place ice on the top of the vessel, cooling the steam inside and condensing it to drip back down on the food being cooked. The term doufeu is derived from the French language meaning gentle heat. Items in a doufeu are generally cooked slowly which, combined with the marinating effect of the condensation, results in moist and flavorful dishes.” Basically you create a convection oven on your stovetop.

“Originally introduced in 1934 by Cousances / Le Creuset, the doufeu is a cooking vessel featuring a recessed lid designed to hold ice rather than embers. As moisture begins to evaporate during the cooking process, the cooler ice-filled lid causes moisture inside the vessel to condense. Specially designed dimples on the flat interior of the lid direct the liquid back down onto the food. This self-basting effect ensures food remains moist, nutrients are not lost, and flavors intensify, and minimizes the need to add water to food during the cooking process. The doufeu will also function with water in the lid rather than ice – as long as the water remains below the boiling point it will be cooler than evaporating moisture inside the doufeu and will thus ensure condensation continues.”

The other half has been fiending for baby-back pork ribs like what Father made over Christmas, but given how expensive they are, we compromised on four chunky beef short ribs from the local ghetto C-town. The request was for an Asian flavor profile, so I came up with this east meets west braised finger-licking rib. If you don’t have a lovely doufeu, a regular dutch oven or pot would be acceptable.

beef short ribs (thick cut, 3″X 4″)

Marinade (bbq sauce, hoisin, honey, hot sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder. My usual method is throwing everything in a ziploc bag and squishing it to cover meat. No mess! Leave for at least 2 hours or overnight)

red wine (3 buck chuck, any leftover brew)

Dipping sauce: Worcestershire, Louisiana hot sauce 1:1

Brown short ribs, meat side down, in olive oil using dutch oven or another cooking vessel. Add red wine and water 1:1 ratio, just to cover meat. Simmer for 2 hours for fall-off-the-bone tenderness. If you are using a doufeu, add water to the lid and keep the flame low enough to keep the water from boiling.

Reduce the leftover sauce into a gravy by letting it boil uncovered for 10 min. Douse the ribs with the glaze. Another option is reserving the liquid as a starter for you next soup.

Serve with cheesy bread, grits, mashed potatoes or rice.

doufeu at work

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