Monday, December 28, 2009

Braised Short Ribs

12-9-09- well, the cold spell has not lifted. It's freezing outside, literally. -6 the last couple mornings, so braised short ribs sound wonderful! I am using a recipe given to me by Pat, Kaylee's boyfriend and chef, and I am using short ribs ordered from Mambo's, our restaurant. the meat is much more elegant and plump than what i can find in our tiny town's grocery store, if I can find it there at all (our grocery store is sketchy, dang it Safeway!) I think the key to fall off the bone short ribs is in a few steps. First, you dry the meat off with paper towels, salt and pepper it, then dredge it in flour and sear on all sides in a pan with olive oil over medium low heat. Low and slow! Once they are brown and have a delicious crust all around, i remove them fromt eh pan and place them in a braising dish (I bought mine at walmart for 10 bucks) Then I cut up carrot celery and an onion and add it to the pan with the beef drippings and saute for a couple minutes until onions are translucent. then I pour the veggies on top of the ribs ( by the way, any amount of ribs works in this recipe, you can cook two or 12, no crowding of the pot rule applies here) Next you add your liquid. it could be anything depending on what you want your dish to taste like, just make sure you add enough to cover the ribs 3/4 of the way up. the only rule is to add about a cup or so of some sort of tomato product to your liquid. The acid in the tomato i'm told help to break down the meat and make it tender. Today I have used a combination of chicken and beef stock for the liquid and marinara sauce for the tomato product. A bit of red wine in the liquid is great too. The next step is to braise. Season everything with salt and pepper and put the lid on the braising dish and stick it in a 300 degree oven for at least 6-7 hours. I usually cook mine about 7 hours but you could go up to 8 or 9 I'm sure. The longer it cooks the more tender it becomes. When the ribs are done add some crushed red pepper flakes and oregano to wake the broth up a bit. I serve my short ribs on top of a bed of sauteed veggies and roasted sweet potato chunks. for the veggies, I saute asparagus that has been cut in half vertically and then on a diagonal horizontally with some garlic and olive oil. Then I add some halved cherry tomatoes and saute for another minute. Then I will add some re-hydrated porchini mushrooms ( I can only get the dried mushrooms in my po-dunk store!) but it's ok, because I add about 2 tablesppons of the mushroom liquid that I re-hydrated my mushrooms in to the veggie saute and it is fabulous. Then I add some bite sized roasted sweet potato chucks to the veggie saute. The combo is beautiful! You just serve some of the rib juices over the ribs on top of the veggie saute, top with parsley and it's a showstopper. It's really good to make for a crowd because you can dooall the hard work in the morning and the ribs just cook all day, ready when you are! I bet an Asian version of this would be delicious as well. I would probably just make the liquid be a combination of beef stock, soy sauce, sesame oil and Asian barbecue sauce and top it with cilantro. Yum! I will have to make a mental note.

New Food Blog and 15 bean soup

I originally wrote this first post a couple weeks ago, but have since resolved to make this food blog thing a year long project and so now, for the first two entries, I am back posting. I will be writting reguarly about the food I make this year, and my foodie revelations. This project is mostly a discipline on my part, but hopefully I can use it as a tool to improve my cooking as well as maybe inspiring creativity.

12-6-09- Today I am making a very humble bean soup. This is something I had on a regular basis growing up and honestly thought I would never make again. My Mother used to make bean soup quite a bit growing up and we would eat the leftovers for days and days. Hers consisted of beans, usually just pinto, water and if we were lucky, a ham hock. She would top it off with melted cheddar cheese and a tortilla, if they were around, and voila that was dinner. My version is going to be somewhat different. Isabella my daughter, had her first cheerleading event this morning. When we left the high school it was clear, but by the time lunch time rolled around it was dumping snow. Living in a ski town, the weather can change in minutes. The weather calls for something hearty and I have all the ingredients to make a great 15 bean soup. I had no recipe. I mean it is bean soup and I don't think there is an actual science to it. I basically just drained the previously dried beans from the pot of water they had been soaking in overnight and put them in a crock pot. I added a chopped onion, carrot and 2 celery stalks (cut lengthwise and then chopped) we had a left over yellow bell pepper in the fridge so I cut it up and tossed it in as well. Then I added a can of petite diced tomatoes, a bottle of beer (corona) and filled the rest of the pot up with chicken stock. Next I threw in a smoked pork chop, bay leaf, and galric powder, chili powder and a half a packet of lipton onion soup mix. I have high hopes. I think I will top my bean soup off with parmesan cheese, curl up on the couch and watch a movie. A perfect end to a blustery day.
NOTE: In retrospect, since this day has already passed, I would like to say that it took the beans a while to cook in the crock pot. About 7 hours. But the soup itself was delightful. Oh, and I didn't watch a movie. It sounded good, but my inlaws came by just as dinner was being served and they joined us and we talked. Afterwards, there was no time for a movie. But still a good night.