With a wallet brimming with just-unwrapped Christmas cash, most city gals would run to their nearest Zara, buy an absurd faux-fur vest, and strut out onto the streets to find some good sushi and a cocktail!
Not this girl. But mostly because I had already bought said vest in one of those one-for-you-two-for-me Christmas shopping slip-ups. So, feeling, as I often do, generous toward myself, I bought what I've been lusting after for about two years now: a Dutch oven. Coming in at a very reasonable (as these things go) $50, you'd think I would've had one by now (I'm not one to deny myself much, as is plain to see).
My better half was due to arrive back from his Mexican surfing vacay with his mom, and I wanted to treat them to something delicious to make their transition back to sub-Arctic temperatures slightly more bearable. For some time now, I've been feeling compelled - yes, compelled is the accurate word here - to braise. And braise I did! I braised like no one has braised before! Er, like...well, many people have most likely braised before.
My compulsion to braise and my recent semi-obsession with making short ribs collided in a meaty explosion of slow-cooked goodness, all dripping in glorious Zinfandel. Biting into the spoon-tender ribs was like coming in from a blizzard and sinking under your covers still fully clothed to read Twilight - pure guilty pleasure. And don't think that just because this recipe looks a tad advanced or because it "requires" a $50 piece of cooking equipment (it doesn't), that you can't tackle it at home. With a few hours to kill (and maybe a great glass of wine and some tween vampire lit), you'll be singing your braise's praises without a hitch. Promise.
4 beef short ribs, bone in
1/2 bottle Zinfandel
1/2 carton beef broth
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2-3 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
about 16 small (golf-ball to egg-sized) thin-skinned potatoes (like baby Yukon gold)
mix of chopped fresh herbs (like rosemary, parsley, oregano, etc.)
2 T. butter plus 1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
5-6 small heads Belgian endive, trimmed, separated into leaves
handful toasted walnuts
1 ripe pear
blue cheese crumbles
[for salad dressing:]
juice of 1 lemon
dollop of dijon mustard
dollop of honey
salt and pepper
Bring the ribs to room temperature. Salt and pepper them generously on all sides. Preaheat oven to 350. On the stovetop, in a Dutch oven or large skillet, heat the olive oil. Brown the ribs on all sides, working in batches if necessary. Set aside, and drain all but about a T. of the remaining fat in the pan. To that, add about a T. of olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the leeks, carrots, and celery to the pan, adding a little salt and pepper. Cook, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Return the ribs to the pan. Pour in the wine and broth so that the liquid comes about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ribs, but does not totally submerge them. (At this point, if you are not cooking in an oven-safe pan, transfer all of this to an oven-safe dish with a lid). Put the lid on the pan and braise in the oven for about 2.5-3 hours, until the meat literally falls off the bones.
About 45 minutes before the braising is done, boil a large pot of salted water. Par-boil the potatoes until they are easily pierced with a fork, but not falling apart. Drain. Return the same pot to the stove and heat some olive oil and butter (about 3 T. total) over medium heat. Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and fresh herbs to the pan. Cook them until they begin to get brown and crisp on the skins, stirring occasionally, and smashing a few down so they crack open and suck up the oil.
Whisk together all salad dressing ingredients, then slowly whisk in olive oil to emulsify. Place the thinly-sliced pear into the bowl of salad dressing (to prevent oxidation) until ready to serve. Place some endive on each salad plate. Top with some dressing-coated pears, walnuts, and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle a little more dressing over it all if if seems a little dry.
Serve: place 4-5 potatoes on each plate, along with one short rib per person, topping it off with a little jus from the cooking pan. Serve with the salad. Enjoy!
Ross said that I could "easily charge $25 to $30 for this in a restaurant." [*blush*] And Ross' mom (no shrinking violet in the kitchen herself) said they were the best short ribs she'd ever (ever!) had. I'd say my tryst with braising turned out better than expected - and I have a feeling me and my Dutch oven (we are, it may go without saying, are staunchly Team Edward) are going to be mighty cozy all winter.