Location: 16 Fairgrounds Rd, Hamilton, N.J.
Set on the 42-acre Grounds for Sculpture and overlooking a recreation of Claude Monet’s “Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies,” Rat’s boasts one of the most stunning outdoor dining views in the Northeast. Inside, the design of the restaurant pulls inspiration from the French village of Giverny where Monet lived, and its namesake Mr. Rat from Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows.”
The menu offers seasonal takes on French cuisine, including the popular Burgundy-braised short ribs. Executive Chef Richard Freedman notes that the success of this dish comes down to patience. The dark, rich flavor is the result of layers of thorough and gentle browning. “If you follow these steps, you will end up with a restaurant-quality short rib that will land at the top of everyone’s list of favorite meals,” he said.
Burgundy-Braised Short Ribs
- 4, 10-ounce pieces of trimmed boneless beef short rib (will shrink to about 6 ounces)
- Salt and fresh black pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil (enough to coat bottom of Dutch oven)
- 1 medium Spanish onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 stalks of celery, leaves removed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ bottle of Burgundy red wine (or suitable substitute)
- 1-2 cups chicken broth, homemade if possible
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
Preheat Dutch oven over a medium flame. While heating, season short ribs with salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, add the oil and gently place the short ribs in the oil to sear. Leave them to sear until a rich mahogany brown color – this will give you the best flavor. Repeat the sear on all sides.
Remove the beef and set aside. Place all the vegetables in the oil and cook until well-browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir constantly, cooking until brown as well. All the browning will add up to intense, rich flavor.
Pour in the wine and stir thoroughly to release caramelization from the bottom of the pot. Reduce by about half. Add chicken broth, then add the seared beef, thyme and bay leaves. Make sure the liquid comes up at least ¾ of the height of the beef.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the pan and place in the oven. Check after 2½ hours to see if they are tender. You should be able to cut all the way through with a plastic spoon. Give them a little squeeze with tongs – if they spring back, put back in for another 30 minutes.
When the ribs are done, remove from the liquid. Strain liquid into a wide pan and put over a high flame to reduce. It will become thicker and very rich in flavor. Strain again if necessary, using a fine mesh, if possible. Season the sauce with salt and pepper as needed. Reserve to pour over your finished dish.
Makes 4 servings.