Friday, June 18, 2010

Ad Hoc at Home - Braised Beef Short Ribs

This turned out to be a very long post, and believe me I have shortened it where I could.

Another light summer meal!   All kidding aside, this one is really very good. I've never had braised beef short ribs except when they are stuffed into the cannelloni at One-41. They were the big news about 18 months ago (or even more time goes so quickly). Every cooking magazine, every restaurant had a version. A little behind the times, I decided to take the plunge! I made the beef stock the day before, and decided to try to make this one night following supper, since the flavors improve with age. We start with a red wine reduction:

Red Wine Reduction
1 bottle dry red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon (we really liked this wine shown)
diced yellow onion, peeled sliced carrots, thick sliced leeks (white and light green only)
thinly sliced shallots
thinly sliced button mushrooms and/or stems
thyme sprigs, parsley sprigs, bay leaves, peppercorns and 3 cloves of garlic, smashed

Place all the wine reduction ingredients in a large dutch oven that is large enough to easily hold the meat also. Bring to a simmer over high heat then reduce heat and continue simmer for 50 minutes until wine is reduced almost to a glaze.

2 1/2 lbs boneless chuck short rib - recipe calls for 1 piece. (WE i.e. Jim deboned these cut up ribs)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
all-purpose flour
canola oil
diced yellow onion, peeled sliced carrots, thick sliced leeks (white and light green only)
2 cloves of garlic smashed
3 thyme sprigs 2 bay leaves
5 c beef stock

(You also need cheesecloth and parchment paper)

Trim any pieces of sinew from the top of the ribs, leave the layer of fat and silverskin. Remove any remaining connective tissue from where the bones were removed. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and coat with flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat some canola oil in a saute pan and brown the meat  (fat side down) 3 min then do the other side and remove the meat to a tray.

Now for the assembly:
Place the cut up vegetables into the wine reduction and toss together. Then cut a piece of cheesecloth to cover and separate the layer of vegetables from the soon to be added layer of meat (give your flavor !!! but no touching!!!) LOL

Wet the cheesecloth and wring it out, carefully placing over the veggies making a nest for the meat. (This keeps bits of ugly betty veggies from sticking to the lovely meat) OK I made up the ugly betty part but thats pretty much what the book says.

Put the meat on the cheesecloth and add the stock. Cut a parchment lid. I cheated and traced the lid to the dutch oven on parchment as it was late at night and my fear of math and measurement is much greater after the sun sets.

Place the pot in a preheated 350 oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. Well, thats what the book says. "To check, uncover the meat and press on it:" (with a fork please, this stuff is hot) "the fibers should separate but the meat shouldn't be falling apart."  By the end of two hours we could barely smell the braise. WSH and I gave up at 3 hours and decided to finish cooking the next day. You're supposed to store it in the liquid anyway.

Remove the meat, strain the liquid twice to remove all impurities, toss those depleted vegetables, then remove the fat with a fat separator and store the meat in the liquid for up to 3 days.

To serve, pleace the meat in a saute pan with 1/4 in of the liquid and place the rest of the liquid in a sauce pan to reduce to a sauce consistency. Gently heat the meat and spoon sauce over top. Finally place it in a hot oven for a final browning for a few minutes, basting twice.  Cut the meat into slices about 1/2 in thick. That didn't work for us to be pretty enough to photo so I am showing you chunks of meat. Hey! we're all friends here right? What's a chunk or a slice between friends.

As a serving suggestion Ad Hoc offers up Polenta, which I read and translate mentally to Grits. I cooked some stone ground (no boxed stuff please!) grits and mixed in a few cloves of smashed up roasted garlic and some creamy marscapone and it was a fantastic creamy accompaniment to these ribs. I also threw together a Caprese salad (YAY TOMATOES!!!!) our first of many this season.

For all the trouble, the flavor in this dish was really quite worth it. All the vegetables and the reduced wine added flavor notes that accentuated the beefy taste of the meat. The garlicky creamy grits were perfect with the sauce. It took a little longer to braise than the recipe said and I don't know why that was. One of the beautiful things about braising is you can follow the progress of the dish without even checking the oven. Your nose knows. The scent changes as the dish progresses and your home is filled with warm welcoming hunger inducing scents. It's a very rewarding way to cook. I love this dish, we used the left over for beef stroganoff (the recipe follows this one in Ad Hoc, but sadly no pictures. Definite do again.

See you soon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ad Hoc at Home Beef Stock

Yes, it's Summer. 92 degrees on the day I decided to make Beef Stock, in preparation for that other Summertime favorite Braised beef Short Ribs. Most sensible people are outside grilling, but I saw this one in the Ad Hoc cookbook and thought it looked good, so here goes. I practically never claim to be sensible anyway. At least it's not one of my strongest suits. 
Beef Stock
Canola Oil
meaty bones (or in my case meat+bones)
water, salt
carrots, leeks
thyme, parsley
bay leaves, peppercorns
1/2 head garlic split across the equator

Roast the bones in some oil in a 475 oven, turning a few times so that they brown all over.

Meanwhile cut an onion in half crosswise and place one half in a pan over medium high heat, cut side down for 30 min!  Char the crap out of it!  Seems to fit with the "less than sensible" theme.

When the bones are done, drain the fat and deglaze the pan with water, scraping up and saving the brown bits. (I had skimpy meat on the bones so I browned some beef pieces on the stove and deglazed that pan). Place the bones and enough water to cover them in a stockpot. Over medium heat bring to a simmer and skim! skim! skim! For 5 hours.

Meanwhile roast your leeks and onions and carrots until carmelized: 20 minutes at 400, stir around then another 20 minutes.

As you very astute people will notice I made some substitutions because of what I had on hand. After all, it's STOCK  people! Add them to your stock along with the charred onion half and allow the stock to simmer another hour.  Every picture tells a story and in the following story, Sally didn't read the recipe the required 3 times before starting. Therefore I added my roasted veggies and charred onion at the beginning of the 5 hours. This resulted in far more skimming, and a less distinct beef flavor but only marginally so. Remember this is one ingredient in the next recipe which has about 30 ingredients. Not a major disaster.

When all is simmered and skimmed, and strained, then strained again. Here's the result: Beef Stock. I let it rest in the fridge and removed any remaining fat from the surface in the morning.

Up next: Braised Beef Short Ribs from Ad Hoc at Home
See you soon