It’s not Autumn, and I’m not in New England, but this cocktail still works on a number of levels. While this may sound like a book or movie title, it’s actually an adult libation we found in our copy of America’s Test Kitchen’s book “How to Cocktail.” They point out that apple and sage are a pairing that taste as if they were always meant to be together, and that’s why this drink works. The piney, slightly astringent notes of the sage are mellowed by the bright sweetness of apples.
A couple of sage leaves are muddled in maple syrup to infuse with herbal flavor. Apple cider’s sweet, slightly fermented flavor adds even more depth, as does the smoky, caramelized bourbon. Keeping with the apple theme, a bit of cider vinegar with its bracing acidity adds another touch of savoriness to balance things out.
Warm temperature season is behind us which signals it’s time for braised dishes. If there’s one cozy cool weather meal you need to be making, it’s these braised short ribs which are slow-cooked in apple cider with fresh herbs and sweet caramelized onions. It’s simple to put together and unbelievably scrumptious. Serve over a bed of creamy, garlicky mashed potatoes and you’ll have the perfect dinner for a cold night in.
The pairing of sweet apple cider and tangy caramelized onions is a combo with beefy short ribs that can’t be beat. Your kitchen will smell incredible as this slow cooks for hours. Those jammy onions practically melt into the sauce.
Now there were two major changes we made to the directions. First, we saw no reason to wipe out the pan after browning the ribs. Why would you discard that wonderful flavor? Then, at the end, after removing the bay leaves, also remove the ribs and place them onto a platter tightly covered with foil. Keep the pot on the burner and bring contents to a rolling simmer, stirring often. Mash the apple quarters so that they release their pectin and thicken the gravy, then continue to reduce down the sauce for another 10 to 15 minutes.
About 45 minutes before the dish is done, don’t forget to start your creamy mashed potatoes!
Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, then rub with flour to coat. Heat a large oven-safe Dutch Oven over high heat, sear the ribs on both sides. Remove the ribs to a plate. Do this in two batches.
Add the butter and onions and cook 5 minutes, until softened. Add a 1/2 cup apple cider, season with salt and pepper, and continue cooking another 5-8 minutes, until the cider has evaporated and the onions are lightly golden.
Add the thyme, then add the short ribs back to the pot. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups cider, broth or wine, carrots, garlic, and bay leaves. Arrange the apples around the meat. Cover and roast in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the short ribs are tender and falling off the bone.
Remove the bay leaves. Place the ribs onto a clean platter and cover tightly with foil.
Put the pot on a burner over medium heat and bring to a rolling simmer, adjusting heat as needed. With a rubber spatula mash the apple quarters; the pectin in them helps to thicken the sauce. Reduce down for about 10-15 minutes more.
Serve the ribs over a bed of mashed potatoes. Drizzle with the pan sauce and onions.