Ok, I'm going to be a bit boastful for a moment or two so bear with me. I decided it was finally time to experiment with cooking short ribs, a cut of red meat I've never worked with before. Short ribs seem to be popping up on restaurant menus everywhere these days...or maybe I've just recently noticed them and have joined the bandwagon. I'm not a huge red meat lover in all honesty, never really have been. I do however, love a great piece of meat that's so tender and succlent it falls apart on the bone or while cooking and then just melts in your mouth. I admit, short ribs aren't the leanest cut of beef you can buy, but if you get a nice boneless piece and trim any extra fat off, you've definitely got a pretty healthful cut there--at least as far as red meat goes. Short ribs that are "bone-in" tend to be much fattier, less meat. Anyhow, seeing how winter has officially made a come back and the frigid air is here in full force, I figured it was a perfect evening for braising up some short ribs...a nice comforting, warm meal on a cold night. Braising is a fantastic, healthy way of cooking tough, leaner cuts of meat and heartier vegetables. Slow-cooked at lower temperatures in liquid produces an incredibly moist dish. I perused a few classic recipes for braised short ribs with red wine and then adapted/concocted my own version of deliciousness. Not to brag, but these are damn good and will certainly go down in my personal recipe collection. I paired the dish with a lovely, lite Brussels sprouts salad with lemon vinaigrette, walnuts and pecorino and some baby fingerling potatoes dusted with a touch of truffle salt. By the way, if you're a fan of truffles/truffle flavor, truffle salt is a relatively inexpensive way to give a side dish some serious pop...without needing to go into sodium-shock, just a touch does the job and keeps your blood pressure where it should be. So...drumroll...here's last night's menu, dish by dish. And a quick disclaimer, I realize the photo's not the greatest. We're working on investing in a higher-quality camera, my poor digital just isn't cutting it anymore!
Braised Short Ribs with Dried Cherries and Red Wine
Makes 4-6 servings
2 pounds boneless short ribs, trim extra fat off
¼ cup flour for dredging
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 carrots, roughly chopped
5 cremini or button mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1-2 cippolini onions (or 1 small yellow onion), roughly chopped
½ shallot, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed gently with a knife
1/3 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ bottle dry red wine *I use one with cherry overtones
2 cups beef stock
Preheat oven to 350.
Heat olive oil in heavy oven-proof saucepan over medium-high heat. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Dip in flour to cover each side. Brown short ribs, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer ribs to a plate and place all vegetables and herbs in saucepan, sauté for about 5-7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and dried cherries, cook for another minute. Place short ribs back into pan, add wine and beef stock. Bring to a boil and transfer pan to the oven and cook 2 ½ hours until meat is tender, stirring occassionally. Remove from oven, place meat on a separate platter and boil down liquid about 20 minutes. Serve with roasted Brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes dusted with truffle salt.
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pecorino, Walnuts & Lemon Vinaigrette
12-16 Brussels sprouts, rinsed and outer leaves removed if needed
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup shaved pecorino romano cheese
juice of 1 fresh lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 small garlic clove, minced (literally just a few teeny pieces to flavor the vinaigrette, but not overwhelm it)
Using a mandolin slicer on the thinnest setting, shave Brussels sprouts over a medium mixing/serving bowl--shave down to the stem and then discard stems. Watch your fingers on the slicer! Toss in walnuts and pecorino. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad, toss well and serve.
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Truffle Salt
*Yet, another reason I love living close to the farmer's market. Got these baby potatoes over the weekend and they were super fresh and flavorful.
Preheat oven to 425. Rinse and dry about 12-14 medium-sized fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise. Place in mixing bowl and drizzle with 1.5 tablespoons olive oil, a tiny touch of regular salt and freshly ground black pepper. Evenly distribute on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, stirring midway through. Remove from oven and dust with truffle salt. Serve.