Vaca: Short Ribs in a Brown Sugar Loaf with Nettle Moss

Adapted by
May 2011
Yield: 10 Servings


Short Ribs
3 kilograms short ribs
20 grams Tepu wood for smoking
Bread Crumb Soil
80 milliliters whole milk
20 grams sugar
100 grams fresh yeast
100 grams chives
100 grams parsley
100 grams fresh coriander
100 grams spinach
100 grams basil
3 grams Merquen chili spice mixture
10 grams coriander seeds
1 liter water
500 grams wheat flour
500 grams whole grain flour
2 grams salt
30 grams squid ink
Anise Beef Stock
10 kilograms short rib bones
olive oil
500 grams mirepoix
½ gram star anise
25 liters water
Muscavado Syrup
300 grams muscavado sugar
400 grams nettles
100 grams spinach
olive oil
200 grams parsley
1/10 gram garlic stems
Wet Earth Aroma
20 milliliters earth extract (made by distilling local wild herbs)
30 milliliters water
To Assemble and Serve
Achillea millefolium (or yarrow)
10 milliliters liquid nitrogen


For the Short Ribs:
Smoke the short ribs in the Tepu wood. Vacuum seal the smoked short ribs and cook in a thermal circulator at 63°C (145°F) for 40 hours.

For the Bread Crumb Soil:
Combine the milk and sugar and heat to 30°C (86°F) on a stovetop. Add the fresh yeast and leave the starter in a warm place. Blend the chives, parsley, coriander, spinach, basil, Merquen, and coriander seeds with water and strain, reserving the herb juice. Mix the starter with the wheat and whole grain flours, salt, and strained herb juice. Add the squid ink and knead the dough long enough to let develop the gluten. Leave it in a warm place for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) and bake the risen dough for 30 minutes. Do not brown the bread.

Reduce the heat of the oven to 70°C (158°F). Dehydrate the bread in the oven for 1 hour. Blend it in a food processor until it resembles a fine dust.

For the Anise Beef Stock:
Roast the short rib bones in a hot oven until brown. Roast the mirepoix in a very large pot with a little olive oil. Add the roasted bones, star anise, and water and cook over a low heat for a couple hours or until the water is reduced by three-quarters. Strain out the bones and star anise and add the liquid back to the pot.

For the Muscavado Syrup:

Add the muscavado sugar to 300 milliliters of the Anise Beef Stock and reduce to reach the consistency of a light syrup.

For the Moss:

Blanch the nettles in boiling water for 5 seconds. Sauté the spinach in olive oil to gently brown. Add the nettles, parsley, garlic stems, more olive oil, and salt. Reserve.

For the Wet Earth Aroma:

In a small pot, heat the earth extract with the water. Reserve.

To Assemble and Serve:
Remove the Short Ribs from the vacuum bags and brown very quickly on the stovetop. Remove the bones and cut the meat of each short rib into three small bite-size peices. Put these in a pan with the Muscavado Syrup and glaze them for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt. Put the glazed meat in a bowl with the Bread Crumb Soil and cover the meat to coat. Put some of the Moss on each plate and add 3 pieces of the Short Ribs. Finish with more of the Bread Crumb Soil and garnish with the achillea or chickweed.

Divide the Wet Earth Aroma among ten small cups; add 1 milliliter of liquid nitrogen to each cup. Serve each dish with a cup of Wet Earth Aroma.