if you read ceF, then you know that i prefer italian cooking over all others. it’s my automatic go to. it’s what feels right to me – kind of like the color black, a burmese cat, the nyc vibe and the smell of cary’s neck. these are things that work for me on a regular basis. the things that make me, me.
ok, those things - and black and white cookies.
but the italian food phenomenon is a relatively common shared love, unlike perhaps, cary’s neck – both of these working in my favor. because whereas you best stay away from my man, the craft of italian cooking (and any cooking) can be shared and enjoyed through great dinners at home and in restaurants, reading books, traveling…
well, and then there are the bloggers.
and we all have our favorites. the ones that makes us laugh, the cooks we wish we were, the farmer and forager, the beautiful photographer, the great writer… and a few that perhaps have just the right blend of whatever it is that makes you, you.
i’ve grown pretty fond of so many food blogs, but there’s a few out there in particular that seem to feel the whole italian thing in the way that i do. and there’s one woman in particular… the italian dish. she’s the one who shamed me into buying the KA rollers and finally making my own pasta. and for that i am beyond grateful. and then there was her cookbook giveaway, where i was somehow lucky enough to land a copy of ‘A16 food + wine‘, a cookbook from san francisco’s acclaimed restaurant that celebrates perhaps my favorite part of italy, campania.
i’ve been making a concerted effort to cook more from my books. i have this wonderful collection that i often admire for its overall beauty – a personal and peculiar aesthetic, i know. and although i truly do realize that it’s what’s inside that matters – in this instance my books are mostly untapped. and let’s face it, admiring potential is merely living in the future, which would be awfully unzenlike of me.
but, i had 2 packages of boned, meaty short ribs in my refrigerator, with no real plan for them. so i flipped through my books and of them all – and there were many to choose from, A16 had the dish (with zuni cafe, a close second). it was a perfect ingredient list, not too complicated and after salting the meat well, and putting it back in the refrigerator to sit for 2+ days, i could contemplate the present knowing that the future was under control.
a note – laurent tourondel in his book ‘the new american bistro cooking’, had a recipe that sounded quite good as well. and if president elect obama was coming to dinner, or eric clapton, jeremy irons or my tony – or even if it had been new years eve or cary’s birthday, i might have considered making his braised short ribs with garlic-thyme brown butter. but with two (2) full bottles of red wine, four (4)cups of ruby port and eleven (11) cups of assorted kind of stock… well, maybe another time. but hey in the meantime, file this little trick away – tourondel’s bouquet garni was rolled up with BACON. only going to show that the man is an absolute genius…
(post browning – pre braising…)
short ribs alla genovese
adapted from A16 food + wine
cooks notes – i used short ribs off the bone and they worked well.
i used 4 jarred anchovy fillets in olive oil because i already owned them
i used about 8 peppercorns because i am rebellious by nature
6 lbs short ribs – about 6 ribs total
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil – plus more for finishing
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 salt packed anchovy, rinsed, fileted, soaked and then minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
5 black peppercorns
4 red onions, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 sprig of rosemary
trim some fat from the ribs leaving the sinewy silverskin behind. season evenly with about 2 Tablespoons of salt. cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.
preheat oven to 275f
in a large dutch oven, or other heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat. working in 2 batches so as not to crowd the pot, brown evenly on all sides. transfer to a plate and set aside. pour out the fat and if the remove any burned bits of meat. if pot looks scorched, deglaze with water. if the liquid tastes ok, use it – otherwise discard. (my pot was just brown – not burned so i just let it be.). reserve pot to make the sauce.
meanwhile, in a small pot, reduce the wine over medium high heat to about 1/2 a cup.
to make the sauce, on low heat add 2 more tablespoons of oil to first pot and then add the carrots and celery and sweat slowly, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until softened. be careful not to brown. add the garlic, anchovy and peppercorns and continue to cook for 3 minutes, or until garlic begins to soften. add the onions with a pinch of salt (do not oversalt as the meat has been well salted), cooking until onions are softened and translucent – about 5 minutes. stir in the vinegar and the reduced wine and remove the pot from the heat.
return the ribs to the pot and with the rosemary sprig and cover tightly with foil or lid. transfer to the oven and braise for about 2 1/2 hours or until the short ribs are tender when pierced.
to serve, remove the rosemary sprig and transfer the ribs to a large rimmed serving platter. ladle the sauce on top and drizzle with olive oil.to finish. serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil
these ribs are even better if cooled down completely and served the following day.
what i didn’t quite understand was the red onion scenario. in A16’s book, the picture of the finished platter shows no sign of them anywhere. but there are tons of them in the pot… so, the first night i served the short ribs over simply puréed cauliflower, the meat inundated with onions.
enter exhibit a:
it was quite good and we ate it happily, but at some point it dawned upon me that this was not the best way to go. so the next night i served it with 95% less onion, reduced the sauce and piled it all on some jasmine rice mixed through with the leftover pumpkin from the babbo cake. risotto crossed my mind but it was a weeknight and short ribs are pretty decadent as it is, so the orangey bed it rested upon was totally fat-free and proud of it.
the recipe is solid and i highly recommend that you make it. and soon. but i must admit that i was tempted to call the restaurant and talk to the chef, nate appleman so i could KNOW about the mystery of the red onions.
but instead i let it go.
because it was all exactly as it should be.
further proof of a more zen-like existence…