Friday, November 16, 2007

The first thing I did with my share of the 1/4 of a cow

I made short ribs, for the first time ever! Mmmm, mmmm short ribs.

On Thanksgiving weekend, my Dad, sister and I were driving up Vancouver Island on our way to Maple Bay for a cozy cabin day and dinner. We made the essential stops for veggies to accompany the turkey who lived a happy life, bread to go with Betty's delicious soup, and of course, special-cheese-shop-cheese. But there was one more stop on the way, unrelated to Thanksgiving... The butcher! We parked the van outside and ran through the rain and into a big square warehousey place.

Inside, it was like a bigger version of a regular meat shop, except that there was lots of glass behind the counter, through which we could see all the butchers working on one side, and all the cows hanging up to age on the other side. Very cool. Even my recently un-vegetarianized sister thought it was very cool. We chatted with the girl behind the counter, who's great grandfather started the farm and the butcher business. We actually spent a long time chatting with her, because we discovered that when you buy a 1/4 of a cow, you get to make lots of complicated decisions about how you want it butchered. So we learned a lot. And about four weeks later (all of the beef is aged for at least 21 days) my Dad showed up at our apartment with a cardboard box full of carefully wrapped beef in all of the cuts and sizes we'd decided on!

This past Monday just felt like a short-ribby kind of day, so I started looking for recipes. I looked in all of my cookbooks, and Mark Bittman (How to Cook Everything)was the only one who offered short ribs. So I looked online, read through many recipes on Epicurious and several random southern cooking sites. But I didn't find what I wanted. I was planning to make short ribs in an Italian-style tomato sauce, to serve over the fancy tagliatelle noodles Darryl picked out a Parthenon the weekend before. So, I made up a recipe. I roughly followed Mark's method for short rib stew (with carrots and potatoes and such) as I really didn't have a clue about how to approach cooking these things, but ignored the ingredient list and threw a bunch of stuff in that I thought would be tasty with pasta.

It took about three hours, but it was delicious! Really rich and comforting. Definitely I'm-trying-not-to-despair-that-it's-winter food. I am trying to trust that winter offers good things this year (since summer kind of betrayed me, not enough to loose its favourite season status, but enough to make me consider other contenders) and I can tell this recipe's really going to help.

Short Ribs with Tagliatelle

2 tbsp canola oil
6 beef short ribs

1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4-1/2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
* I used dried herbs cause I didn't have any fresh on hand, but if you've got fresh, throw them in!

6-8 roma tomatoes, cut in 1/2" chunks
1/4 cup port
2 cups diced tomatoes in juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 red/yellow peppers, roasted, skinned, seeded and chopped roughly
2 heads garlic, roasted and scooped out of the skins

tagliatelle noodles

The first step is to brown the short ribs. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the ribs well on all sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as they cook. It should take about 20 minutes in total - I turned them over about every 5 minutes, until all sides were nicely browned.

Remove the ribs from the pan and set aside. Pour out all but 2 tbsp of the fat. Add the onions to the pot and saute them in the remaining fat. After the onions have softened a bit, add the mushrooms and the herbs as well. Once these are all nicely sauteed, pour in the tomatoes, tomato juice, and port. Stir in the sugar and balsamic vinegar.

Now return the browned short ribs to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to low and cover. You want the sauce to simmer slowly, braising the ribs until they are nice and soft, and beginning to fall off the bone. Mark says this takes about an hour. I think I cooked them for closer to two hours, but just cook until they're the texture you want. I wanted to be able to tear/cut them up into small pieces to add to the sauce. About halfway through the cooking time, I added the chunks of roasted pepper and the roasted garlic.

Once the ribs are cooked to your liking, remove them from the sauce, let them cool a bit just so they're not too hot to touch. [This is a good time to put the pasta on to boil.] Remove the meat from the bones and break it up into smallish bite-sized pieces. Meanwile, reduce the sauce - remove the lid and turn the heat up to high, stirring frequently.

Add the pieces of beef back into the sauce, laddle the sauce over the tagliatelle, and you're ready to go!


Anonymous said...

hi meg,
never had ribs that way. the southern way is to bake or barbecue and keep spreading on the tomato/garlic/mustard etc sauce cooking till quite crisp on the outside.
looks like another recipe for your book. is another good recipe source. some good cranberry recipes this week as it's american thanksgiving.

Cathie said...

Meg, I can almost tast these. I haven't had ribs for years,and I'm sure I never tasted ribs like these! I love your story behind the scenes and your trying to love the dark season.

Tessa said...

dear sister,
I just used this recipe to cook ribs from the same 1/4 cow, and yummm . . . it was so rich, aromatic, and earthy-sweet! I used a jar of the tomatoes we canned and fresh basil, both of which added lightness to a rich dish. Thank you for your culinary ingeniousness!

Tessa said...

ymmm . . .just made these again. This time served on top of crispy polenta!

darryl said...

mmm, I bet it's awesome on polenta!