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Peanut Butter Is The Key Ingredient For Ghanaian-Style Short Ribs

Beef short ribs on cutting board
Beef short ribs on cutting board - Kajakiki/Getty Images

Taken from the brisket or rib area of the cow, short ribs are juicy cuts of meat with rich flavors. Often baked or braised, the ribs turn fall-off-the-bone tender, letting fruity red wine or mild beef broth bring out a gelatinous texture. When you're making Ghanaian-style short ribs, however, peanut butter is required.

Although peanuts are native to South America, the slave trade brought them to Africa in the 15th century, cementing them into regional cuisines. The nutty flavor of peanuts complements the rich, warm spices of the food, particularly in traditional West African dishes. In Ghanaian cuisine, peanuts are found in kyinkyinga, skewered beef rubbed in peanut powder and spices, and groundnut soup. The soup is filled with meat infused with the earthy peanut butter. Groundnut soup typically involves steaming the meat and aromatics, and blending the veggies before adding everything to a pot of peanut butter that has been diluted with water or broth.

If you're braising rather than steaming the short ribs, you'll still dilute the peanut butter. But before you set out to smother beef in a spoonful of Skippy or Jif, know that Ghanaian peanut butter is different from most Western store-bought versions. Also called groundnut paste, it does not contain sugar and it has a toasted, earthy flavor that's much more full-bodied. When cooking a Ghanaian recipe, you might want to go with a high-end natural peanut butter instead of what you have sitting in the pantry.

Read more: Styles Of Regional BBQ In The US

How Should You Flavor Peanut Butter Short Ribs?

Peanut soup with beef and spices
Peanut soup with beef and spices - naito29/Shutterstock

Ghanaian peanut butter is superbly earthy and you'll want to complement its richness with warming spices. Spring for nuttier aromatics like ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, paprika, or cumin seeds. If you're picking up a jar of peanut butter from your local African grocery store, you can also get anise seeds or calabash nutmeg, which is woodier than regular nutmeg.

A simple way to amp up the flavor of the peanut butter short ribs is by using tomatoes, onions, garlic, and scotch bonnet peppers. Blending them and adding to the pot of simmering peanut butter sauce is a common method for making groundnut stew, and it will infuse your short ribs with a slightly more herbaceous and umami taste. For a more concentrated flavor, add a dollop of tomato paste to the braising pot and roast the onions, garlic, and peppers before blending them.

If you want your peanut butter-braised short ribs to lean a little sweeter, adding a splash of coconut milk is the perfect way to make that happen. The coconut milk can dilute the peanut butter while maintaining a nice level of creaminess. Serve the short ribs and sauce over rice with a side of easy fried plantains or crispy roasted okra.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.