Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Coffee, cocoa flatter red wine

The Pairing: 2003 Crooked Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, $30, with Cocoa Coffee Braised Short Ribs.

by Jolene Thym
Contra Costa Times
18 October 2006

THIS BIG Livermore Valley red is deep enough to serve with a main course, full enough to be sipped with anything chocolate. But the real beauty of this small-batch boutique wine is most apparent when it is served alongside a rich braise that is layered with cabernet-friendly flavors. The slight bitterness of the coffee in the braise underscores the tannins, and the fruity earthiness of the cocoa draws out the berry flavors of the cabernet grapes. A saucy dish like this begs for a creamy, simple side dish such as risotto or potatoes.


Serves 8

4 pounds boneless short ribs, trimmed

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 ribs celery, diced

6 cloves garlic, chopped fine

2 tablespoons fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

2 cups cabernet

2 cups strong coffee

Vegetable oil

Salt and black pepper

1. Season ribs with cocoa, salt and pepper. Heat a heavy, oven-proof saute pan or Dutch oven on high; add 1-2 tablespoons oil. Working in batches if necessary, brown ribs on all sides; remove from pan.

2. Add vegetables and garlic to the pan; saute over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften. Add thyme and bay leaves and continue to saute until garlic begins to brown. Stir in red wine and coffee.

3. Return ribs to the pan. Add enough water to almost cover the meat, but make sure the liquid does not cover the meat entirely. Cover the pan and braise in a 325-degree oven for 1 hour. Remove pan and check liquid level. Add water if needed.

4. Return pan to the oven for another hour. After 2 hours, begin checking the ribs to see if they are tender. The ribs are done when the meat is fork-tender. When the ribs are done, remove them to a separate dish and cover.

5. Pour juices into a gravy separator and allow to sit for several minutes. Return juices to a saucepan, leaving the bulk of the fat behind. Reduce the liquid until it begins to thicken into a sauce. Season sauce with salt and pepper, and serve with the ribs.

-- Courtesy Neil Marquis, Pleasanton Hotel

Per serving:

580 calories, 25 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 46 g fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 2 g fiber. Calories from fat: 72 percent

For more information visit http://www.contracostatimes .com