Recipe: Beef Short Rib & Clementine Gremolata with Alvi’s Drift Wine Pairing
Taste Master SA 2022 Derick van Biljon revisits his childhood and honours his father with this tasty beef short rib recipe. Pair with red wine and enjoy!
As memories serve, early each Sunday morning, we’d be piled into my dad's Volkswagen bus to brave the 60-minute drive to church. Exchanging grumpy scowls, wiping the sleep from our eyes, we’d patiently wait for my mother to take her seat.
She was always last in the car. Not because she faffed about her appearance (that would have been done to perfection hours earlier), but because she was finishing up the Sunday roast we were to have for lunch. Lamb was the usual suspect. Sometimes two hens with roast potatoes and green beans. Often, some other experiment she wanted to try out on us.
A Treat for Dad: Braised Beef Short Rib with Stampkoring and Sweet Pumpkin
Dad would call out songs, and we would break out into a choir of six, our pale-yellow kombi gleefully devouring the last bit of tarmac.
Whatever she had planned was always delicious. But when she wanted to treat my father on special occasions, the menu was braised beef short rib with stampkoring and sweet pumpkin. After the solemn restraint of the church pews, the road back was usually an upbeat affair. Dad would call out songs, and we would break out into a choir of six, our pale-yellow kombi gleefully devouring the last bit of tarmac before the dirt road brought us to the farm gate.
It was a speedy trip. Dad modified the Volkswagen engine to a V8 Ford big-block soon after we moved from the flatness of the Free State to the rolling hills and valleys of Natal. The bus was never designed for that amount of torque, but that didn't matter much to Dad. He loved driving at speed, despite the constant self-repairs to crankshafts or drivetrains and to the great consternation of my mother (who only enjoyed going fast when she herself was behind the wheel).
Go Faster, Daddy!
Coming out of the drift would cause the rear end of the bus to bounce just enough to send us flying into the air
Excitement would always build when we drove past the entrance to the French Club at Donnybrook, where the family had squash meets, and we got our weekly tennis lessons. Amid high-pitched pleas of "go faster, Daddy!" we four would scramble into the back seat, and the V8 would rumble into new life as we crossed the concrete river-crossing towards the Big Kloof.
Executed correctly, coming out of the drift would cause the rear end of the bus to bounce just enough to send us flying into the air, feeling weightless for a split second before landing in a giggling pile wherever we may fall.
Pure unbridled joy and elation! My brother once even made a tight somersault and landed neatly on the seat in front of us, causing Mom to vigorously bash a concerned fist into Dad's thigh. The bouncing happened less often after that (and usually only when Mom wasn't in the car).
The Bittersweet Torture of Ravenous Anticipation
Adrenaline spiked, we suddenly became keenly aware of our appetites, having only perhaps had a sweet mint or a shared Beechie shoved into our mouths to silence a complaining stomach during the church service.
Gloriously flavoured with a mother's hand, and love – the kind of love you only get with time.
Walking through the back door into the kitchen around noon, there was always the bittersweet torture of ravenous anticipation. Assembled the evening before, the beef rib would have been made to stand to rest, ready for the oven on Sunday morning.
Low and slow, over the four hours it took us to get to church and back again, the meat was braised to perfection. Fork-tender, sliding off the bone. Gloriously flavoured with a mother's hand, and love – the kind of love you only get with time.
A Drizzle of Brown Vinegar and a Spoonful of Apricot Jam
Peculiar-sounding words were thrown about, like "pinotage," "cabernet sauvignon," something about a guy named "Franc"
Vegetables and garden herbs. Almost a full bottle of red wine. Mushrooms, cured pork, garlic, and, as tradition would have it, a drizzle of brown vinegar and a spoonful of apricot jam. On occasions like these, even at that tender age, my father would allow us a tiny glass of Hanepoot, a fortified Muscat, far too sweet for the dish we were about to have, but it was a treat that made us feel very grown-up indeed.
Directly translated into our mother tongue, means "crazy mouth" – an apt description, I would later come to realise.
Mom would enjoy her rock shandy, but Dad would have a bottle of robust red breathing on the sideboard. Peculiar-sounding words were thrown about, like "pinotage," "cabernet sauvignon," something about a guy named "Franc", and my personal favourite, "malbec," which, directly translated into our mother tongue, means "crazy mouth" – an apt description, I would later come to realise.
After saying grace (with a blessing on the hands that prepared the food), the first moments of our meal would always be enjoyed in silence. "Vreetsaam" – that tranquil time when we would savour our first bites, tasting the love on our forks patiently nurtured out from the bone, fat, marble and earth.
A Delectable Duel of Flavours
Even our protectors, the giant Great Dane farm hounds Voetsek and Suzi would get their share
Deeply developed beefiness tenderly cushioned by a rich gravy. Plum and berry from the wine. The delicate spice of white pepper, bay leaf and herb. Sweetness from onion, carrot, and tomato, and savoury smoke from paprika and salted pork. At the very top-end, the delectable duel between the acidity from the vinegar and the barely-discernible, fruity honey from the apricot jam.
We would eat our fill, remaining seated long after the lunch. Savouring our satisfaction in celebration of our communion. Even our protectors, the giant Great Dane farm hounds Voetsek and Suzi would get their share, sharpening canines on the rib-bone jaw busters for days to come.
After I turned 13, the sweet wine was replaced by the reds my dad would enjoy every Sunday. By the age of 16, I was versed in pairing wine with food – one of the many gifts my father would bestow on me as a son – and a human being.
The Greatest Gift a Child Could Have
A memory sweeter than the Hanepoot of my childhood.
In 1984, Cyclone Domoina devastated South Africa’s eastern coastline. The concrete crossing at Big Kloof was washed away by the deluge, and rebuilt soon after. It was engineered so well that the ramp at its end no longer existed.
Now, all that remains is the memory of a dad showing his kids a bit of excitement and fun on a long drive home.
A memory sweeter than the Hanepoot of my childhood. The greatest gift he could possibly offer.
Thank you, Pappa. Happy Father's Day.
“The wine’s dark fruit of plum and mulberry is in perfect step with the hefty beef umami of the stew. Hints of spice and vanilla echo the sweet earthiness of the herbs and vegetables, while the lace of white pepper enhances the overall flavour of the dish.”
“The 2018 vintage boasts well-rounded, velvety tannins with a long-lingering aftertaste. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the robust meatiness of this recipe.”
Recipe: Beef Short Rib & Clementine Gremolata
Enjoy this dish with Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Bismarck - a multi-cultivar red blend consisting of no less than seven red grape varieties (Shiraz 39%, Pinotage 23%, Cabernet Sauvignon 16%, Grenache 9%, Petit Verdot 6%, Durif 4%, Viognier 3%).
Prep time: 30 min | Cooking time: 3-4 hours | Total time: 4-5 hours
● 1.2 kg (8-12 pieces) whole beef short ribs
● Salt and white pepper to taste
● ¼ cup or 62 ml all-purpose flour
● 100 g (6 pieces) smoked cured pork, diced. Pancetta or black forest pork belly is recommended, but bacon cubes can also be used.
● 2 tbsp. canola oil
● 1 large onion, diced
● 3 whole carrots, diced
● 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
● 250 ml Alvi’s Drift Signature Chardonnay (or any other lightly wooded white wine)
● 250 ml chicken or vegetable stock
● Large bouquet garni – parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf
Optional but recommended:
● ½ cup garden celery, diced
● 200 g portobello or brown mushrooms, halved
● 2 tbsp. tomato paste
● 1 tsp. smoked paprika
● 500 ml stout beer (enough to almost cover ribs) or 250 ml Alvi’s Drift Reserve Drift Fusion (or any other full-bodied red wine)
● 1 tbsp. brown grape vinegar
● 1 tbsp. quality apricot jam
- Salt and pepper the short ribs to taste, then allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Cover meat in flour and set aside.
- Over medium heat, fry the pork in a large oven-proof, heavy-based pan or cast iron skillet until completely crispy with all the fat rendered. Remove and set aside without discarding the fat.
- Fry the halved mushrooms face down in the rendered pork fat for approximately 2.5 minutes until well browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add canola oil to the pan and raise heat to high. Brown the short ribs on all sides, about 90 seconds per side. Remove and set aside.
- Turn heat down to medium, add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan and fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic and fry for a further 60 seconds.
- Create a well in the centre of the pan, pushing the vegetables to the side. Roast the paprika for about a minute in the well.
- Add the tomato paste to the paprika, stirring for another minute. Frying the tomato paste with the paprika will improve the sweetness and flavour of the tomato paste and draw out the oils from the smoked paprika.
- Stir to mix all the ingredients in the pan together, then add the brown vinegar and apricot jam.
- Pour in the wine and bring to a gentle boil to cook for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the caramelised flavours.
- Add the stock, salt, and freshly ground white pepper to taste. Add the ribs to the liquid, bone side down.
- Add the rendered pork and grilled mushrooms. Top up the pan with the stout beer (the ribs should be almost completely submerged in the liquid). Submerge the bouquet garni in the centre of the pan.
- Cover with lid and place the dish into the oven. Cook at 150 °C for 90 minutes, then turn up the heat to 170 °C and cook for an additional 1.5 to 2 hours, checking the dish every once in a while, adding stock or wine as necessary. Extend cooking time and regulate liquid levels until the meat is fork-tender and falling off the bone.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes with the lid on. Just before serving, skim fat off the top.
- Serve 2-3 ribs per person on a bed of steaming pearled barley, topped with clementine gremolata.
Clementine Gremolata Recipe
Zest and juice of one clementine or orange
Zest and juice of one lemon
20 g parsley, finely chopped
20 g sweet basil, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
100 ml olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Finely chopped chilli (use sweet pepper if you don't like spicy foods)
Mix all ingredients together and allow to develop for at least an hour
Sprinkle over the dish as a topping and enjoy!
- Using smoked pork lardons in this recipe is not essential, but it is well worth the extra time and effort, as it will elevate the flavour profile of the dish. The same goes for the mushrooms, as the grounded earthy tones they add is a joy in any beef dish.
- It might be tempting to skip browning the meat altogether, but this is a wasted opportunity to coax maximum flavour out of the meat. Browning also seals the muscle fibres and prevents the meat from losing moisture during the cooking process.
- The flour assists with browning and sealing the meat, and also helps to thicken the gravy. Do this ahead of time if you prefer, but do not skip this step.
- A bouquet garni (garnish bouquet) is often used by chefs to add herb flavours to a dish. It is not an essential step, but it saves time chopping up herbs during food preparation and is quite effective in lending the required flavours over long and slow cooking times.
- This dish could easily be prepared in a pressure cooker, providing you regulate the cooking times and liquid levels. I do prefer a slow-and-low cooking method, as this simply allows time for more flavour to develop. Cooking this dish in the oven really is the best way of getting it to taste like heaven.
About Kalahari Wild Artisan Butchery
“We’re a mindful meat company that only works with ethical farmers. We cut, dry-age and cure beef, mutton and venison from pasture-reared, free-range sources, supplying some of the top restaurants and delis in South Africa.”
The beef short ribs in this recipe were supplied by Kalahari Wild.
Purveyors of fine, artisan dry-aged meat, the family-run artisan butchery situated near Swellendam supplies high-quality meat produce to some of the finest restaurants, chefs, and delis in South Africa.
Known for their careful dry-ageing process, the quality of Kalahari Wild’s meat is immediately evident. “The right colour, feel and texture,” says Derick. “The natural marbling is unmistakable. And I love the aroma when opening a packet, it speaks volumes of the care and quality of the meat.”
Visit www.kalahariwild.co.za to find a stockist near you or contact the team to place your order.
Wine Pairing Recipe: Junel’s Festive Duck with Alvi’s Drift Reserve CVC or Pinotage Rosé
Recipe: South African Biltong and Alvi’s Drift Wine Pairing
Recipe: Filet Au Poivre with Alvi’s Drift Wine Pairing
Pinotage Wine Enhances This Delicious Oxtail Recipe
Recipe: Pairing Buttery Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Alvi’s Drift Viognier
Recipe: Junel’s Bulgarian Feta Pie with Alvi’s Drift 221 Sauvignon Blanc
How to Host Your Own Casual Wine Tasting At Home
Top Tips to Develop Your Wine Palate and Tasting Skills
Viognier is the Great South African Wine Secret (Plus: Coconut Pilaf Recipe)
Get the very best when it comes to wine promotions.
Subscribe to our newsletter, The Drift, to receive all the latest updates, special offers, wine promotions, industry news and more, delivered straight to your inbox.