I was recently asked about braising short ribs. We have not had short ribs on our menu for a while, so I had to refer to my notes, more like an assemblage of random thoughts and ideas, to find a time and temperature for the braising procedure. Well, my notes stated to cook the boneless short ribs for twenty four hours at 67 degrees C. Alright, I responded quickly with my answer. My answer was met with another question involving the braising of meats, Alain Ducasse, his variety of recipes and the substantially lower temperature (58 degrees C)and extended time (72 hours) as written in his recipes. I responded with the important temperature of the melting point of collagen (71.1 degrees C) and that I did not think such a low temperature would yield melting short ribs. Tender, yes but still too toothsome for my tastes. I noted that our temperature was lower than the aforementioned collagen melting point, though I felt the fact that we brined the meat and also the low temperature of the water bath would allow for enzymatic and protein denaturing to take place. I then solidified my own thoughts by returning to Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, a great resource and one which helps clarify our cooking procedures.
Yet, somehow I wondered, what did Ducasse know that I did not? So, I emailed Harold McGee for an answer to my quandary. I am awaiting a response. Meanwhile, I figured I might as well test my notes again, I could have made a mistake. We brined our short ribs in olive brine, it seems I am not quite over olives yet. We glued them together with activa and then braised them per my notes at 67 degrees C for 24 hours.
The result was melting and toothsome short ribs with a rosy pink interior. In our kitchen we do not have the luxury to braise something for 72 hours. Though, if I can be educated on the exponential benefit of a 72 hour braise, I will happily sing another tune.