Thursday, January 21, 2010

Comfort Food: Short Ribs with Parsnip Puree

I couldn't think of a better way to start off the new year (and my new blog) than with a meal that was evocative of the season. For New Year's Eve, somewhat due to post Christmas travel colds, my boyfriend and I decided to stay in, cook a delicious meal, cozy up and watch a very orange and (quite frankly) incomprehensible Dick Clark ring in 2010. We missed out on our original plan - a lazy dinner with friends at Flatbush Farm - but I think we made up for it with the meal I whipped up. I didn't start cooking the short ribs until around 9, so I made some crostini with minted pea puree beforehand to tide us over and we had no problem making our way through a bottle of Cab. Since the entree itself was supremely hearty, I thought we needed something light for dessert: lemon pudding cake from Moosewood's Book of Desserts (a holiday gift given apropos)!

Recipe for Braised Short Ribs (in the style of Anne Burrell):

What You'll Need:
6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 lbs) - - For ease, I asked my butcher to cut them into 2-3 inch pieces and since I was only cooking for two, I bought about 2 3/4 lbs and simply cut the recipe in half.
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves

Season each short rib generously with salt and add them to a pot that has already been coated with olive oil and brought to a high heat. Brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, making sure not to crowd the pan. (I cooked them in two batches) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until they form a rough paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the puree. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and form a crust on the bottom of the pan; this should take about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir and let the crust form one to two more times before adding the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine while scraping the bottom of the pan. At this point, you can lower the heat and reduce the sauce by about half.

Return the short ribs to the pan and add enough water to just cover all of the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves, cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid for the last 20 minutes of cooking and let the sauce reduce. When finished, the meat should be tender but not falling off the bone.

I served my short ribs with parsnip puree, which was quite simply prepared as any basic mashed potato recipe would be: cream, butter, s & p. I also added a good helping of thyme to tie the flavor back to the meat.