Happy New Year! I hope you all are enjoying 2011 - or at least free of your hangover by now!
With all the craziness of the last few weeks, Rafe and I decided that a quiet night at home was just what we needed for New Years. It worked out perfectly because I woke up that morning sick as a dog. But I had planned a meal in my *NEW* Le Creuset french oven and there was NO way I wasn't making it.
Rafe drove me to the Hartford Baking Company where we picked up a loaf of french sourdough for dinner, and had coffee and pastries while I wrote my grocery list. Then fueled by Stumptown coffee and a healthy dose of Dayquil I picked up the last few things for our meal.
In addition to our celebration at home - Rafe was able to get some tickets to the UConn basketball game from his friend and classmate Emily (Thanks Emily!). So I wanted to make something for dinner that I could prepare in advance, and then reheat when we returned home from the game.
I decided a braise would be perfect, and shortribs would be the ultimate treat! I actually made them a few years ago for New Years, so they are new to the blog. They cook all day, and are actually tastiest after they've been reheated. Use a red wine that you like to drink - but don't go throwing something expensive in there - you're using nearly half a bottle....
I was pretty happy with the Rex Goliath Cabernet that I scored for $7.99. I had their Pinot Noir earlier in the week - and the rating on this one was pretty high as well.
I started with 2 lbs of short ribs - 4 ribs. This was enough for Rafe and I and some leftovers - the sauce is VERY rich. But if you're making this for a crowd I'd say 2 per person - to be on the safe side. Luckily, my ribs were pretty lean, but you will want to trim them of excess fat. Season liberally with salt and black pepper. My belief is that you can almost NEVER over salt beef.
After they are trimmed and salted I dredged them in a little flour. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, cayenne and a dash of allspice.
Make sure the ribs are totally covered with a light coating of flour - shake off any excess.
Coat a heavy bottomed pan - or in my case my gorgeous Le Creuset (thanks Rafe!) with about a tablespoon of oil, and brown the ribs in batches.
I did them 2 at a time so I wouldn't crowd the pan. Sear them until they are golden brown on all sides.
Then set them to rest on a plate while you get to work on the veggies and braising liquid.
I removed all but a tablespoon of the grease and oil from the pan and added 2 onions slices into half-moons, two chopped carrots, and a chopped stalk of celery. I cooked these down until the onion was dark and caramelized. I added 3 chopped cloves of garlic and cooked for about a minute, until fragrant. I then threw in a cup and a half of the red wine and scraped up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. I let the wine reduce for about 5-7 minutes, then threw in 2 cups of swanson beef stock and one can of diced tomatoes.
Now that the braising liquid was complete, I added the shortribs back into the pot, added a sprig each of thyme and rosemary, and a few carrots that I had cut into sticks to be less of an aromatic - and more a part of the stew. Don't skip this, the carrots were amazing with the flavor of the wine!
I put the lid back on the pot, put the pot in a 350 degree oven, and let it hang out for about 2.5 hours. I took a shower, a nap, and did my hair in that time.
Then I pulled this from the oven......YUM. You can see the meat falling off the bones in there. I took a taste, and added some salt and pepper.
I let the pot cool, then put it in the fridge while Rafe and I cheered the UConn Men's Basketball team to victory against South Florida. When we arrived home I pulled the pot from the fridge, and skimmed the fat from the top of the gravy. I put the pot back in the oven to reheat while Rafe got started on his famous garlic mashed potatoes.
While waiting for everything to finish cooking, Rafe and I snacked on a mini cheese tray that I had put together - with manchego, marcona almonds, and a cheddar laced with porter. The manchego was our favorite.
We also warmed up our Hartford Baking Co loaf.
MMMM look at that crust!
The finished product: gorgeous shortribs atop garlicky mashed potatoes, with a gravy moat. It's no surprise that after dinner and cleanup Rafe and I immediately put on pajamas to watch the ball drop.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner - and the leftovers the next day.
I love hearty, braised meats in the winter - but now its time for New Year's resolutions and some lighter fare! Well, other than the leftovers from this meal - diet starts Monday.
What are some of your New Year's resolutions?