Two of my favorite things come together on this dish, braised beef short rib and brioche. While this isn’t a true “torchon” (see the torchon posting for details of that preparation), it very much resembled it before adding the brioche. The interesting thing about this preparation is that the tender braised meat, usually bound by gelatin from stock, doesn’t crumble into a pile when it is fired in the oven.
To build the “torchon”, I began with a brunoise of mirepoix, bacon, braised beef short rib, 250 grams of the braising liquid and 1 gram of agar. Agar is a gelatin substitute that is derived from red algae, and is fairly common in Asian cuisine. The most unique property of agar is that it maintains its shape up to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
I rendered the bacon first, then added the mirepoix which had been previously blanched to stay the color. After lightly cooking the mirepoix, I added the short rib and seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground toasted black pepper. In a separate pan I warmed the braising liquid while stirring in the agar until fully incorporated, then added the stock to the short rib to make a ragout.
Then the ragout went onto plastic wrap and was cranked down into a cylinder, using a sausage poker to remove any pockets of air along the way. It was then tied off and suspended in the refrigerator (suspending it maintains the cylindrical shape) until it was firm. Then, a loaf of brioche was sliced about 1/4″ long ways. Three slices were laid side by side on plastic wrap, the cylinder of short rib was placed on top and it was again wrapped into a cylinder and suspended in a refrigerator until firm.
At this point it can be easily sliced, leaving the plastic wrap on during slicing to help maintain the shape. The plastic wrap can then be pulled off and it can be placed in the oven to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
The petit salad that it was paired with provided a contrast to the richness of the short rib. The red beets were roasted, and were sweet and soft. The golden beets were pickled, creating a crisp texture and tart flavor. The trio of micro mustard greens from Lucky Leaf Gardens provided some needed bitterness.