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Coffee-Marinated Bison Short Ribs

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Why I Love This Recipe

Yes, this recipe is straight from the February issue of Bon Appetit, but it bears reprinting here because it's incredibly good. Bison is more readily available these days, but if you can't find it, you can substitute beef short ribs - though they won't have the same intense, smoky, earthy flavor.

Ingredients You'll Need

4 cups water
• 3 cups chilled strong brewed coffee
• 1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
• 3 tbsp plus 2 tsp (packed) dark brown sugar
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
• 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
• 2 cups ice cubes
• 4 lbs bison short ribs, cut between ribs to separate

• 1/4 cup chopped bacon (approx 1 1/2 oz)
• 2 cups chopped onions
• 1/2 cup chopped shallots
• 6 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 small jalapeno chile, seeded, chopped
• 1 cup strong brewed coffee
• 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
• 1/4 cup chili sauce or ketchup
• 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 tbsp soy sauce


Preheat oven to 325F.

2. Saute bacon in heavy large wide ovenproof pot over medium heat until beginning to brown. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to plate. Increase heat to medium-high. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sear ribs until browned on all sides, about 7 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large plate.

3. Add onions, shallots, garlic, and jalapeno to pot. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add coffee and broth; stir, scraping up browned bits. Add chili sauce and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Add bacon and ribs, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise until meat is tender, about 2 hours 15 minutes.

4. Transfer ribs to plate; tent with foil to keep warm. Spoon fat from surface of sauce. Boil until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over ribs.

NOTES: Not only can the ribs be marinated in advance, they can also be cooked in advance. Follow the recipe through the end of step three, then cool on the countertop. Chill the ribs, uncovered, until thoroughly cold, then cover and keep chilled for up to 2 days. When ready to use, pop them back into a 325F oven for about 20 minutes to thoroughly reheat. This can actually be a very leisurely dish to make.

Bison ribs are incredibly lean, so pay attention to them when searing. You want to let them develop a nice dark crust, but you don't want to let them sear for too long, lest they get irrevocably tough and chewy. When braising in the oven, they can go for a long time, even longer than the recipe says here, as long as you keep the temperature no higher than 325F. Anything higher and the liquid will boil, and that much heat will cause the ribs to toughen also. But low and slow cooking, done properly, will make these ribs tender and fall off the bone.

Even though ribs are very lean, there's still some fat in them. Not to mention all the bacon that's in this. Even more fat will render out of the already cooked bacon once it's in the oven. So while I'm usually not too fussy about draining off the residual fat before serving dishes like this one, this is one time where you'll definitely want to have a spoon or turkey baster on hand.

This recipe provides a great blend of sweet, savory, smoky, spicy and just about every other adjective I can think of. The end result is a very intense meatiness. I bought chili sauce for this recipe, but I don't normally keep it on hand - a mix of ketchup and some pantry spices, as well as a touch more apple cider vinegar, would probably be a good homemade substitution.

As for serving, well, serve like you'd serve any ribs. Goes well with rice, beans, any hearty vegetable like kale or corn on the cob, maybe some mac 'n cheese or cornbread. And beer – beer is a must.

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