....in which we break the internet.
Or maybe the world really has gone to hell in a handbasket and you people have no soul, I don't know which it is some days.
But if anything was going to save the world, it would be this little number. It's our first new football recipe for 2016, but it would also be a PERFECT showstopping appetizer for a holiday party (omg how are we talking about the holidays seriously can't deal) or even, say, a mother effing Wednesday night. It's bread and meat and cheese, which are basically ¾ major food groups, the 4th being wine.
The short ribs are indulgent here and, honestly, you could use any beef you like (shoulder, chuck roast) that will relax and shred nicely in a stewy situation after a few hours. The flavors end up like the richest French onion soup you've ever dreamed of, and there are whole garlic cloves simmered in the sauce to boot. Then we shred the beef, stuff it into bread with GRUYERE, for sobbing out loud, and dip it in the beef/onion juice to solidify the best time you've ever had watching football no matter what your feelings on the actual game are. Guaranteed.
The beef can be made a day or two in advance, and that's actually preferable because if you chill the drippings overnight it's much easier to remove the fat the next morning. For the beef mixture you need short ribs, beef stock, 2 onions, a whole head of garlic, and thyme. Maybe some salt if your beef stock isn't super salty. Olive oil for browning the ribs.
First, peel the garlic cloves (they stay whole) and thinly slice both onions.
Then, brown the beef. Use a dutch oven or something that can go in the oven with a lid.
Medium-high heat for about 5 minutes on all sides, sprinkle with salt. If you find that the ribs stick to the pot when you try to flip them give them a few more minutes - they should release from the pan naturally without tearing the meat.
When the beef has browned on all sides, remove it from the pot.
Reduce the heat on the dutch oven to medium and add the onions, garlic, and thyme. Stir the veggies for a few minutes (3, tops) to release some of the bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the beef broth.
Stick the ribs back in the onion soup mixture, and we're ready to roast! Cover the pot and stick it in the oven at 350F for 2 hours. After 2 hours, check the ribs for doneness. If they fall apart easily with a fork, they're done! If not, give them 30 more minutes (or longer if you need to). When the ribs are very tender, remove the pot from the oven. PS in this time you might need to add some water to the pot if the stock has evaporated; be your own boss there. You want at least ½ inch of liquid in the pot or more at all times.
At this point, you'll want to remove the beef from the ribs and shred it, then store it until you're ready to make the pull-apart bread. The drippings should go in the fridge, in the pot or another container, until the fat rises to the top and you can scrape it off. This will leave you with super thick oniony, beefy, salty broth that we'll use in the bread too. I did all of this the day before so that when I was ready to make the actual dish I just cut the bread, stuffed it, and warmed everything up. You could also do this in the morning for a late-afternoon eating time.
When the beef is ready to go, it's time to make the pull-apart bread. For that you'll need a big loaf of crusty bread, the shredded beef, the onion drippings (with as much fat as you can removed), and a mountain of gruyere cheese. 6 ounces grated, really go for it.
Then, we just prep the bread, stuff it, bake it, and EAT it. I like to cut the bread lengthwise first in big strips, all the way down the bread, about 1 inch apart.
Then, turn the bread and repeat, cutting almost all the way through the bread until you have a nice grid but the bottom crust of the bread is still intact.
Then, stuff! A layer of cheese, just jam it in every nook and cranny you can.
Then more cheese! Use it all, don't be bashful, and when you think the bread is "full" add a little bit more, seriously. PS of this beef (4 ribs), I used about ⅔ of the final shredded amount and used the leftovers for quesadillas and baby munchies. You might need all of the beef or not, depending on the size of your bread.
Then we bake. 400F for 15-20 minutes until the bread is crusty and the cheese is melty.
And if that weren't enough, we then drizzle over the super reduced beefy brothy onions over the whole thing.
And, any extra onions/garlic/drippings? Side dish. Which basically makes this a French onion FRENCH DIP.
You know you want it.
This will make you enjoy sports, or anything you are doing at the time you consume this, I absolutely promise. Enjoy!
French Onion Shortrib Pull-Apart Bread
- olive oil and salt
- 2 onions thinly sliced
- 1 whole head garlic cloves peeled and intact
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 cups beef broth
- 4 beef shortribs
- 1 loaf crusty french bread
- 6 ounces freshly shredded gruyere cheese
- shortribs from above shredded
- drippings from above reserved
- Note: I like to make the ribs + jus the day in advance, then assemble and bake the bread right before serving.
- For the beef, heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat with some olive oil and preheat the oven to 350F. Sprinkle the shortribs with salt and brown them in the olive oil on all sides until dark brown, then remove from the pot. Add the onions, garlic, and thyme to the pot and stir for 3 minutes to remove any bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Return the shortribs to the onion mixture and add the broth. Cover the pot and bake for 2-3 hours until the shortribs are very tender. After 2 hours, check the pot and add more water if the ribs need to look longer; there should be ½ inch or more of liquid in the pot at all times.
- When the ribs are very tender and cooked through, remove them from the pot to cool, then shred the meat and reserve for the bread. Refrigerate the cooking juices and onions until cool, scrape off the top layer of fat when the juices are chilled.
- For the pull-apart bread, preheat the oven to 400F. Using a sharp bread knife, cut the bread in a criss-cross pattern to make cubes of bread, but do not cut all the way through the bread. The loaf should still be intact. Using your fingers, alternate layers of cheese and beef until the bread is completely full. Place the bread with cheese and beef on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and crusty.
- Meanwhile, reheat the onion/garlic/beef drippings in the microwave or a small pot. When the bread is cooked drizzle with some of the onion mixture, and serve the rest on the side for dipping.
- Dive in, you'll need napkins. Enjoy!