Wednesday, January 30, 2008

sunday supper: tried and true

Sunday supper was a big production this week, but alas, no pictures because I had company. At least, no pictures of anything cooked. Gene and Olivia brought Mom over and I cooked a three course meal. As is my way with entertaining, all of the dishes I made were tried and true. I just don't take chances with new recipes when feeding people other than myself and J-Cat. The meal started off with a Butternut Squash and Carmelized Onion Galette, which I blogged about a few months ago. That thing is so good we would have been happy eating it as the main course, if I had made three times as much.

Course two was Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine, served over rice, with a side of Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts. This is a favorite recipe of mine, and I chose it because it's simple and cooks long and slow, leaving me free to work on the other courses while it braises. Also, everyone loves short ribs, how could you not?

Dessert was an Olive Oil Cake, served with vanilla ice cream and fresh blueberries. Gene also sniffed out some leftover Semifreddo when going back for more ice cream, so he got the double dessert treatment. The olive oil cake is a favorite of mine for its simplicity and unique flavor. The flavor of the olive oil is unexpected and rich without being overwhelming. It's my kind of dessert. The recipe can be found in my favoritest of of favorite cookbooks - Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.

Recipe for the short ribs after the jump:


4-5 pounds beef short ribs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bottle (750mL) dry red wine
3-4 cups beef stock
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 tbsp cornstarch
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven over high heat. Generously salt and pepper the meat. Sear the short ribs on all sides in batches, taking care to not crowd them in the pot. Set ribs aside. Deglaze the pot with some of the red wine, scraping the browned bits of meat from the bottom of the pan. Return the ribs to the pot, add the rest of the red wine and the beef stock, enough to barely cover the ribs. Add the vinegar and herbs, bring to a boil, then lower to a strong simmer and cover. Simmer for 2 hours or until meat is very tender and falling off the bone.

Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. Remove about 1/2 cup of the simmering liquid and mix well with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Pour slurry back into the pot and mix well. Raise the heat and bring to boil, allowing the liquid to thicken and reduce. Adjust seasonings to taste. If desired, you can remove the bones and any of the tough connective tissue from the short ribs before returning them to the pot. Add ribs back to the pot when the sauce is beginning to thicken and continue to simmer until heated through and the sauce has reached desired consistency. This is a matter of taste, you might want to thicken a lot to approach a gravy, or you might be happy with a thinner sauce. Serve the ribs over rice, mashed potatoes or polenta.

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