Chef Sondra Bernstein, author of Plats du Jour, one of my favorite wine country cookbooks, shares this sensual recipe for red wine short ribs with black mission figs. The combination of the richly flavored red meat with the sweetness of sensual figs makes this one of my favorite winter recipes for two.
Bernstein is known for creating dishes featuring one of the world’s most iconic aphrodisiacs, figs. So I always love turning to her in summer for suggestions on what to do with the bounty of fresh figs the season offers. But how do you celebrate the seduction of figs in winter? Sondra creates a sauce with dried Mission figs to top her braised short ribs. And we’re incredibly lucky that she’s sharing the secret to her intensely figgy sauce with us.
A key tip for creating a romantic winter date night
I usually encourage steering clear of heavy red meats when creating a meal of seduction. Red meat is hard for the body to digest, which means more blood flow is sent to the stomach.
This is not only why you might feel tired after a big, juicy steak but it also makes it much harder to feel the tingle you need to get lucky. (In other words, if all the blood has gone to your stomach, there’s none to rush to your nether region to help you achieve an orgasmic thrill.)
The key to enjoying these succulent short ribs is portion control. Enjoy a modest serving over a serving of sautéed bitter greens like kale, chard or spinach. The sweet decadence of the fig sauce in combination with the bite of the greens will bring beautiful harmony while keeping you from overindulging and spoiling the after-dinner delights. (And I don’t mean dessert. Wink, wink.)
Braised Short Ribs with Black Mission Figs
For the marinade:
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
- ½ cup + 1 cup red wine
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
For the ribs:
- 6 short ribs 2x3" ribs
- salt & pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 celery stalks medium dice
- 1 carrot peeled, medium dice
- 2 medium onions medium dice
- 3 roma tomatoes rough chop
- 10 cups Veal Stock can substitute veal demi
- ½ cup diced dried Black Mission Figs
- 1 bouquet garni
- Mix together the garlic, salt, pepper, herbs, ½ cup red wine, ½ cup oil and sherry vinegar.
- Pour over the ribs and marinate for at least 12 hours.
- Preheat grill or BBQ.
- Scrape the excess marinade off of ribs and season with salt & pepper. Sear the ribs on each side on the grill. Set the ribs aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large roasting pan.
- Add the carrots, onions, celery and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are caramelized.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
- Deglaze with the red wine.
- Add the veal stock, dried figs, bouquet garni and ribs.
- Bring to a simmer.
- Cover and place pan in oven and roast for 4 hours. Every ½ hour turn ribs and remove excess fat.
- Remove the ribs, smother with sauce and serve.
short rib photo by MJ Wickham
For more of Sondra’s figasmic recipes, check out her stunning cookbook, Plats du Jour; the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
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