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SHORT RIBS BRAISED IN RED WINE: Warm, Hearty and Fragrant--OMG—Amazing!


Almost every Sunday afternoon my 87-year-old Mom comes over to spend the night. She, SLF and I post up in the living room or outside in our courtyard to drink champagne (her fave) and solve the world’s problems. (My Mom is very tuned in to current affairs, so we have some great discussions.). It’s fun for all of us, and it gives my Mom something to look forward to each week.


Since she lives alone and hates to cook for herself, I always prepare a special dinner when she comes over. On a recent cold, dreary weekend, I decided to make short ribs braised in wine and served over polenta. What could be better than a warm, hearty, fragrant stew on a chilly evening?? And, OMG--the dish turned out amazingly well! (Sorry to you non-meat-eaters!).


Keep in mind this is not a quickie recipe—you have to allow about 3 hours (including

1 ½ to 2 hours of braising time). Or you can make it one day and serve it the next. That actually gives the flavors a chance to magically meld together, so it tastes even better. But I think the key to success was using best quality short ribs plus taking the time to really brown them. Thankfully, the polenta is quick and easy. My only regret is that we were so anxious to eat I forgot to take a photo of the finished product! :( Darn! But without further ado, here are the recipes.


Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

(Serves 4)


3 ½ lbs of bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 4-5” pieces

Kosher salt and pepper

3 TBSP olive oil

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 TBSP tomato paste

5 cups of beef stock

2 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped

1 ½ cups dry red wine

Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish


Arrange your oven rack to accommodate a large Dutch oven and then preheat the oven to 300F.


Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally on the ribs (see Notes, below). Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven on high heat until it almost starts smoking. Sear the ribs a few at a time, until they are dark brown on all sides, including the ends. (This is where the flavor of the dish develops—so don’t crowd the pot, or you’ll end up steaming the meat rather than browning it.) Set those lusciously browned ribs aside on a plate.

Now turn the flame down to medium. Toss in the onions, carrots and garlic, and cook for a 3 to 4 minutes until the veggies soften. Season with salt and pepper; then stir in the tomato paste. Brown this for an additional minute. Next, pour in the beef stock, and add the rosemary and wine, bringing the mixture to a boil. Stir well, using the liquid to deglaze the tasty bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Finally, add the ribs and any juices from the plate back into the Dutch oven; cover and put in the oven to cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours.

When the meat is tender, remove the pot from the oven and put the ribs on a plate, tented with foil.

At this point you need to cool the sauce for 30 or 45 minutes, up to overnight in the refrigerator. Skim the fat off the sauce. (The longer you cool the sauce, the easier it is to remove any floating fat floating.). At this point you can heat the sauce on medium-high heat to reduce it or add a bit of water to thin it out. Take it to the consistency that you prefer over your polenta and short ribs.


Now taste for seasoning and add the ribs back to the pot. At this point the meat should be falling off the bone. When the ribs are reheated, serve them over a large dollop of polenta sprinkled with chopped Italian parsley. Add a green salad, and a glass of Cabernet, and you’ve got a special dinner! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!


Polenta

(Serves 4)


3 cups water

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup of coarse polenta/cornmeal

1 TBSP unsalted butter

2 TSP salt

1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

¼ cup heavy whipping cream


Heat the water and chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepan on high heat. Gradually add the dry polenta, whisking constantly. Continue to cook, stirring very often, for 10 to 12 minutes. When it’s done, the polenta will start to pull away from the pan. At that point add the butter, salt, cheese and cream, stirring well until the butter is melted and the polenta is smooth.


Notes:


-If you have time the day before, unwrap the meat and sprinkle with salt on both sides; rewrap and refrigerate. (This is a technique used by Chef Judy Rodgers of Zuni Café in San Francisco. She uses 1 TBSP medium coarseness sea salt for every 4 1/2 lbs of beef, pork, chicken or fish, and allows it to cure up to three days, depending on the type and size of the meat. Denser cuts like chicken and pork should cure longer than beef or fish. The salt seasons and tenderizes meat, and while it may seem like waaay too much salt, judging by their food, they know what they’re doing!

Read more about it here: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2006-jul-05-fo-calcook5-story.html ).

Caveat: If you’ve pre-salted the meat, do not add additional salt before cooking. You can adjust it later.


- While this recipe calls for braising the meat for up to 2 hours, start checking to see if it’s done after 1 ½ hours.


-Both these recipes were adapted from the DeLaurenti Cookbook (https://www.amazon.com/Delaurenti-Cookbook-Pat-McCarthy/dp/193324528X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=G1XN0TALPB7A&dchild=1&keywords=delaurentis+cookbook&qid=1614125458&sprefix=delaurent%2Cpets%2C468&sr=8-1)

-I love this served over polenta, but mashed potatoes, egg noodles or even couscous are equally delicious!





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