Ina Garten is my kind of socialite. She's all about keeping things simple while maintaining the specialness of the main event. She's not afraid to use a LOT of butter or most importantly, to eat her own food. But Ina would not be Ina if she did not have her food muse: her husband, Jeffrey. Their romance is quite possibly the cutest story ever told. Despite the fact that Ina and Jeffrey are rarely seen together on camera, he's ever-present in the kitchen. When she cooks for Jeffrey, everything is extra special. And when Jeffrey is unavailable, she fills the void with food and friends (and lots of wine).
Since Jacob went away to grad school in Michigan last August, this too has been my way of coping. I've spent what free time I have trying out new recipes, things I'll want to eventually make for Jacob. Being relatively new to this whole cooking-on-a-regular-basis thing, I tend to make mistakes the first time around. But I learn quickly and by the second try, I'm ready to share it with Jacob. I was always told that the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach. This is true, but what they don't tell you is that it's even quicker if you cook everything with bacon!
Today's test run was Ina Garten's Wine-braised Short Ribs, and I have to say it was MOSTLY successful. It is rather time consuming, but for most of that time it is hidden away in the oven. For example, I had time to go to the gym and fit a 20-minute run in before coming back to take a peek in the oven. My roommate, Alden, was my guinea pig and we were debating the safety of leaving the oven on unattended. It probably was not the safest for us to both leave to go to the gym, but it's rare that we both want to work out at all, so we did it anyway. When we came back, all was well, but an hour later our carbon monoxide detector started beeping relentlessly! I guess our oven isn't quite used to being on for hours and hours at a time, or on such a low temperature. Luckily, the food was pretty much done so we opened some windows, turned off the oven and stove, and chowed down. And we didn't die.
Without any further ado here is the recipe:
6 beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (2 onions)
4 cups large-diced celery (6 large stalks)
2 carrots, peeled and large-diced
1 small fennel, fronds, stems, and core removed, large-diced
1 leek, cleaned and large-diced, white part only
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (750-ml) bottle burgundy or other dry red wine
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Fresh thyme sprigs
6 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and add the onion, celery, carrots, fennel, and leek and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour the wine over the vegetables, bring to a boil, and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the rosemary and thyme together with kitchen twine and add to the pot.
Place the roasted ribs on top of the vegetables in the Dutch oven and add the beef stock and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.
Carefully remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside. Discard the herbs and skim the excess fat. Cook the vegetables and sauce over medium heat for 20 minutes, until reduced. Put the ribs back into the pot and heat through. Serve with the vegetables and sauce.
This is the finished product after we had already eaten most of it. Pictures kind of fell by the wayside.
Alden does not like fennel (or anything anise flavored) so I substituted a second leek for the fennel bulb. Normally though, I swear by fennel and I could write a whole post about fennel and its uses. Sounds like a topic for another time though.
The bottle of wine I used was a red blend from the Rhone Valley in France. It was $7.99 so I went for it.
I snuck a taste before it went into the pot. "The Old Farm" is full-bodied and smooth, but sadly with not a lot of flavor. Again, $7.99 at Whole Foods so who cares. The end result was quite delicious.
I served the short ribs with roasted golden beets and a crusty French baguette to soak up the juice. I peeled the beets, quartered them, and rolled them around in the fatty meat juice in the sheet pan the short ribs were baked on, added a little more olive oil, salt, and pepper and added them to the oven for 30-40 minutes. The result was sweet and caramelized, but a tad bitter. I'm no beet expert so I could have picked out some under-ripe beets, otherwise I have no explanation as to why they were bitter. I wanted to steam some spring asparagus to go with the meal, but ran out of patience. I finally went to the gym, so I wanted to stuff my face.