has it been 7 weeks? my god, how have you been? and look, you’ve come back to see me, even after all this time. i am both grateful and humbled and i have A LOT to tell you. but i’m going to take it one post at a time so as not to bombard you with too much. anyway, let’s just call this my hiatus – my extended autumn break. i never meant to be away this long. but see? that’s life. one day you’re 23 with amazing thighs and then you wake up 25 years later and well, you’re me. but i’m really not complaining. because i’ve been having a grand time. this life i lead is bonafide "charmed" and if i were 15 (ok, 20) (ok 30) pounds thinner, everything would be perfect, and no one could so much as bear being around me. so perhaps my extra padding is the great equalizer. or something. (FRETTING already…)
so where do i begin? i spent a good part of yesterday compiling photos from no less than four different cameras (my nikon slr, my point and shoot, iphone AND a cvs drugstore disposable little number) where i vaguely attempted to chronicle my recent excursions to seattle, nyc, atlanta and florida, along with my last 4 day catering gig, as well as a few various dishes of my own that i somehow bothered to photograph. as of late, so much of my cooking hasn’t even been documented. and i must tell you that it has been somewhat of a relief – to just cook something wonderful, serve it and then eat it while it’s still hot. you know, like regular people do…
as a re-entry post, i thought i’d hit you with some short ribs. when i perused the ingredient list of this recipe, it appeared simply undeniable. chris widick was pretty much at the helm of this dish – the centerpiece of a kick-off dinner of what was about to be 6 major meals in a row over the course of 72 hours. i was running around shopping for the last of the ingredients and chris was left to his own devices. as usual he had his way with the meat and the final result was flawless, served over some slow cooked polenta with braised brussels sprouts on the side. i had chris triple the recipe and from the leftovers had a grand dinner party last week serving the ribs alongside a braised (also local) rabbit dish with lots of pancetta, fresh sage, rosemary and white wine.. damn fine.
these pretty ribs were from emerald glen, a farm not too far from here in munfordville, kentucky. i am sometimes skeptical of the local beef but really, these ribs – from grass finished red devon herds, were very good. and more than anything, i’m just proud to buy meat from weldon hawkins, an 8th generation farmer working the same 110 acres that his great great great great great grandfather (holy shit) did. weldon’s poultry and eggs are as good as it gets and i’m a fan of his pork too. so even though i am the mail order queen, when given a fine local source i am truly delighted to support it.
i haven’t got a photo of the finished product. i must tell you that when there are 4 people trying to plate hot food for 12, things move too quickly – and really i just would have been in the way. i swing a VERY wide path – for too many reasons to mention…
balthazar’s braised beef ribs
6 short rib of beef (5 to 7 pounds)
2 sprigs rosemary
6 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 stalk celery, halved
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh coarse ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 shallots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ruby port
4 cups full-bodied wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
6 cups veal stock (veal stock is really best but you can substitute good homemade beef stock)
1. preheat the oven to 325°F
2. bind each rib with cotton kitchen twine. place the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf between the two celery halves and bind with kitchen twine.
3. season the short ribs with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the pepper.
4. heat the oil in a large dutch oven over a high flame until it smokes.
5. in two batches, brown the short ribs well on both sides, about 3 minutes per side, pouring off all but 3 tablespoons of oil between batches.
6. remove the ribs and set aside when done.
7. lower the flame to medium, and add the carrots, onion, shallots, and garlic to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and light brown.
8. stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.
9. add the flour and stir well to combine. add the port, red wine, and the celery-herb bundle.
10. raise the flame to high and cook until the liquid is reduced by a third, about 20 minutes.
11. return the ribs to the pot (they will stack into two layers).
12. add the stock and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt; if the stock doesn’t cover the ribs by at least 1 inch, add water up to that level.
13. bring to a gentle simmer, cover, transfer to the preheated oven, and cook for 3 hours. visit the pot occasionally and stir the ribs, bringing the ones on the bottom up to the top — they’re done when the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone.
14. transfer the ribs to a large platter and remove the strings.
15. skim fat from the surface of the sauce, and then strain through a sieve into a medium saucepan.
16. discard the solids.
17. over medium heat, bring the sauce to a strong simmer and reduce the liquid until slightly less then half (4 cups) remains, about 1 hour.
this recipe is as classic a short rib recipe as there could ever be. the finished sauce is deep and rich – almost silken. and the beauty of these braised dishes is that although they may be a bit time consuming, they really are incredibly easy - and if one is so inclined, can stand a good deal of tweaking, leaving room for your own personal experimentation.
but like with julia’s boeuf bourguignon, there are certain instances where the classic is all you could ever wish for and that is when i tend to just happily follow along...
ok- one last thing for now… i did want to share with you the menus that we served over the course of the seminar held early last month:
bruschetta : tomato, basil, olive oil / kale, garlic, red pepper flakes / white bean, red wine and rosemary
papardelle with roasted butternut and acorn squash cooked in chicken stock and drizzled with very brown butter, crisped sage and grated dark chocolate
balthazar’s short ribs with polenta and braised brussels sprouts
affogado: vanilla gelato, espresso
pizza : tallegio, chanterelles, truffle oil / fontina, mozzarella, tomato sauce / sausage, rapini, garlic, pecorino
caesar salad w/ frico crisps
nutmeg bittersweet chocolate cake
paul bertolli’s percatelli al’amatraciana
jamie oliver’s porchetta – with cherry espresso agrodulce on the side
farro salad – with roasted carrots, chili, parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper
orangette’s butterscotch budino
rosemary, garlic, black pepper flatbread
smitten kitchen’s apple cake
cannellini beans with arugula, grape tomatoes, oregano, garlic, lemon, anchovy
roast chickens on a bed of rainbow chard with shallots
a gremolata of toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest and flat leaf parsley
roasted potatoes: salt, olive oil, thyme
pesto cencioni with grilled shrimp
pork scallopine with a salad of shaved fennel, red onion, romaine, capers, lemon zest and juice
A16′s pear zabaglione
everyone left 5 lbs heavier with a smile on their face. we do it all again in march, june and october ’10.
it’s quite the ride…