I haven't posted a "fancy schmancy" meal in a while and on a whim I decided to make some braised short ribs. Not just any short ribs though, but short ribs from Von Geertsem's Butcher Shoppe. That's right folks, I get my meats from a personal butcher. Greg does not charge extra for his artistic meat cutting skills nor do his prices make your wallet hurt. They've actually been the same for the past 3 years.
There's something special about this place you see, it makes you feel important. After meeting Greg only one time, the next time I came in he greeted me with a huge smile and a "Hey Joy how are you doing?" How did he remember my name?? But that's the cool thing about Greg, he remembers everyone's name -- "I have the best customers in the whole world." he'd tell me and since I am now one of them, I say I'd have to agree! :)
Okay with jokes aside, I've found that butcher shoppes in America are quickly dwindling down to extinction. With large chain stores mass producing our meats at a cheaper cost, quality is always the first thing that goes out the window. Aside from the unsanitary conditions the animals are raised in, many meat producers now pump CO2 gas and Nitrogen to keep their meats nice and pink for up to 6 weeks. Ever buy a pack of those steaks that looks nice and rosy on the outside but once you cut into it, it's a dull and lifeless brown? That's why. You're buying rotten meat.
That probably makes your stomach churn, because let's be honest we've all seen it and I'm sure most of us probably have eaten it whether you know it or not. Save yourself. Find your local butcher. Strive to find quality products when you cook. Yes it makes all the difference in the world. Turning a blind eye to the unsanitary and unethical practicies of mass meat production facilities does not fix the problem -- go ahead, explore! If your city does not have a local butcher, buy your meats direct from a livestock farmer.
For this recipe, I originally wanted to make a polenta cake to go along with it -- unfortunately I recently transferred a bunch of flours into large UNLABELED containers and instead of using coarse corn meal I believe I used chickpea flour. Poop. HOWEVER, the ribs were tender and rich and paired perfectly with the lemon thyme corn and vegetable ragout. A good sign that you've made an amazing meal? All plates are returned polished clean :). I adapted this short rib recipe from Epicurious, it was apparently Daniel Boulud's recipe which explains the excellent results. Bon Apetit folks and have a great weekend!
Ingredients for Braised Short Ribs: (serves 4)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F.
Warm the oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Season the ribs all over with salt and the crushed pepper. Dust half of the ribs with about 1 tablespoon flour. Then, when the oil is hot, slip the ribs into the pot and sear 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until well-browned. Transfer the ribs to a plate. Repeat with remaining ribs. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot, lower the heat under the pot to medium and toss in the vegetables and herbs. Brown the vegetables lightly, 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
Add the wine, ribs and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and place in the oven to braise for 2 1/2 hours or until the ribs are very tender. Every 30 minutes, skim and discard fat from the surface. (It's best to make the recipe to this point, cool and chill the ribs and broth in the pan overnight; scrape off the fat the next day. Rewarm before continuing.)
Carefully transfer the meat to a platter; keep warm. Boil the pan liquid until it has reduced to 1 quart. Season with salt and white pepper and pass through a fine strainer; discard the solids. (The ribs and sauce can be combined and kept covered in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Reheat gently, basting frequently, on top of the stove or in a 350°F oven.)
** For the red wine reduction I tasted the meat juices and felt it needed a little bit of sugar. I added 1/4 cup of brown sugar and allowed the liquids to reduce into a syrupy consistency, about 15 minutes on high heat. To serve, plate the sides of your choice (I've chosen corn and vegetable ragout), place the meat on top and drizzle with the reduction.