Sunday, January 29, 2012


My friend e mailed me yesterday, asking about recipes to make for his very special lady, and then scolded me for not blogging recently. Well no, not scolded, but he brought it to my attention that I've been quiet on the blog these past few weeks. To be honest, it wasn't until he said it that I realized 20 days had elapsed since I last wrote!

This whole "having-a-real-job-that-keeps-you-busy-during-the-day" and "having-a-social-life-that-keeps-you-busy-during-the-evening" really makes the days and weeks fly by!

In the past, when I've taken a mini hiatus from the blog, I like to come back with a BANG-- something that is drool-worthy, both aesthetically and taste wise. Especially taste wise. And in honor of my friend's request, I'll also share with you a dish I think can be a very sexy meal for two (or six).

Braised short ribs atop a mashed potato pillow

Reasons that short ribs make a sexy meal:

1. They're full of that umami flavor that just gets your taste buds all hot-and-bothered

2. They're insanely easy to make, so even if you're not an experienced cook, you can make a fancy meal to impress your date

3. They're ridiculously delicious, and fail proof, so it's guaranteed to blow your date's socks off (figuratively, but possibly literally as well....)

4. The best way to a man's heart is through his stomach

5. The best way to a woman's heart is by doing something special for her and showing her you're a (wo)man of many talents

6. They make your house smell amazing, so the second your date walks through the door they'll be impressed at your mad cooking skillz

7. One bite is guaranteed to make your date moan. (Subsequent moans are up to you buddy...)

8. They have a relatively short prep time, and after that you literally pop them in the oven and check on them every hour or so. Which means that before your big day you can relax and make yourself look pretty/presentable, instead of sweating over a hot stove and making sure that your meat + side dish + veggies + salad + whatever else you're gonna make all finish at the exact same time

Note: People think cooking is hard. Not true. Timing, and getting everything to the table at the right time, now THAT is the most difficult thing in cooking. After years and years of cooking I'm just now starting to get OK at that.

Reasons that short ribs would not make a sexy meal:

1. Your partner is a vegetarian

Vegetarians typically do not like to eat meat

This dish is one of the most hearty, cozy, perfect-for-cold-weather foods I've ever made. And I can't possibly describe to you just how delicious and amazing these short ribs are. Which means you'll just have to make them yourself and find out!

After hunting around, I decided to go with a recipe my friend Mara used on her blog. If I had an extra day I would have followed her directions, but I just followed the ones from the food network recipe she used. And they're super simple.

The ingredient list is pretty straightforward. Meat, veggies, tomato paste, red wine, and thyme.

Thyme: so fragrant... and makes a nice photo subject.

Like most short rib recipes this one has you brown the meat, then add liquids, then cook it low and slow for hours on end.

Unlike most recipes, some of which include veggies and others that don't, this one has you pulse your veggies in a food processor.

 From this...

... to this.

The genius part of this idea is that it makes the sauce around the short ribs really thick and hearty. And while you don't distinctly taste the veggies, you can feel good knowing that at least there's a little bit of something healthy for you in this dish!

The ribs before going into the oven. 
The liquid will reduce and brown as it cooks for hours.

If I had to suggest one change it would be to cook the meat a tiny bit longer. (The recipe says 3 hours.) It was super tender and just fell off the bone, but there will still a little bit of fat connecting the meat that could have been rendered off. But hey, I'm not complaining.

Serve on top of mashed potatoes or creamy polenta, with maybe a nice little salad with greens and balsamic vinegar, and you've got yourself one sexy meal!

Yours in seduction through food,

Braised short ribs, from Secrets of a Restaurant Chef

Note: I highly suggest checking out Mara's post to see how she cooked them for longer, and put them in the fridge for a day in between to deepen the flavor. Next time I'll following her method!

6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds)
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


1. Season each short rib generously with salt.

2. Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with a little bit of olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

4. While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse 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 pureed vegetables.

5. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. (Note: my paste never got that dark, but I cooked them for ~5-7 minutes, until most of their liquid had evaporated). Scrape the crud and let it reform.

6. Scrape the crud again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes.

7. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half.
(Note: the recipe has you reduce the wine, then add water. I don't see the point in this. Maybe there's a reason, but I just don't know. So to save some time I just cooked the wine mixture for a few more minutes, didn't worry about reducing it, and just added less water later.)

8. Return the short ribs to the pan and add water until it has just about covered the meat (2 cups or less). Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours.

9. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. (Note: I checked it every hour at first, then a little more as the mixture started getting darker. Then I would stir the mixture every time I checked on the ribs. Didn't want certain parts to get dry and overcook.)

10. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.


Mara @ What's for Dinner? said...

This is one of my fave recipes ever!! So glad you liked it!

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