Tuesday, April 17, 2007


as you already know if you live on the east coast, it rained on sunday. no, i'm sorry, that's wrong—it motherfucking rained on sunday. as stephen said, "i've seen it rain harder, and i've seen it rain longer, but i've never seen it rain this hard for this long." pouring, pounding rain for at least 12 hours straight. so i decided that it was the perfect day to cook up the short ribs that i bought at the farmer's market a couple of weeks ago and that had been lingering in the freezer ever since.

i'd never cooked short ribs before, but i was prety sure i should just braise them. i looked on the interweb, and got confirmation of my hunch, plus some hot tips. so here's what i did:

1) browned the ribs. which is absolutely necessary when braising any kind of meat, but a pain in the ass, what with the spattering oil and the entire house ending up smelling like fried. but i found a new method, from james beard, via jeremiah tower, by way of regina shrambling. throw them in the broiler! so much freakin easier! just brush or spray the meat with some olive oil, salt + pepper it, put it in the broiler, and turn it turn it turn it so that each side gets some flame. granted, i had to clean the greasy broiler pan, but i think if i had used heavy duty foil i wouldn't have even had to do that. so. much. better.

2) put them in a deep ovenproof pot/pan/dutch oven along with a quart or so of beef stock (enough to cover them almost entirely), a sliced-up onion, some fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary), and a couple of splashes of sherry vinegar. then i stuck it in a 300˚ oven for about 3 hours.

3) made a sauce. i took the meat and bones (which the meat had fallen off, yum) out of the pot and set them aside. then i de-greased the stock, which could have been a much easier process if we owned a dang baster and i could have just sucked the layer of grease off the top. as it was, i had to pour the stock through a strainer (to weed out the onions and branches of herbs) into a gravy separator, then pour it back out into a different pot (because i had to do it in batches, since there was about 4 cups of stock and the gravy separator holds about a cup and a half). which was a whole lot of effort, and a whole lot of implements that needed to be washed. don't let this happen to you! go forth, procure a baster! also, tie up your herbs with twine or wrap them in cheesecloth so that you can just pluck them out in one fell swoop.

anyway, once it was all de-greased, i threw it back in the original pot, threw the bones back in, and put it on the stove on high heat to reduce. i also splashed in a litle more sherry vinegar, like the internet had told me to do. which, when i tasted the sauce a little later, i thought was a big mistake; it was really vinegary. but once it went on the meat, it was perfect. the meat is so rich, it really needs a sauce with bite to balance it out. then i made a quick faux-roux, by melting a couple of tablespoons of butter in the microwave and whisking in a couple of tablespoons of flour, which i whisked in to the stock when it was just about reduced as far as i wanted it. it's right when it will coat a spoon like cough medicine. then i took out the bones, turned off the heat, and put the meat back in for a couple of minutes to warm back up.

all done! it was warm and delicious and just the right thing for a rainy, gross day.

oh, and i made some swiss chard to go with it, which was delicious. i used to go through a totally annoying blanch-then-saute song and dance with greens like swiss card and spinach, becuase somewhere along the way some cookbook or food show or something told me that you couldn't just saute the greens without blanching them first or they would get too oily by the time they were done. or too soggy. or something. i don't even remember anymore. i just did it, like looking in the bathroom mirror while i brush my teeth, another unnecessary habit of mine that i have absolutely no good reason or justification for. anyway, when i was down in sunny port st. lucie, my mom just threw her spinach in the pan with a little olive oil, sauteed it for a couple of minutes, and it was perfect. huh. so i did that with the chard, sprinkling in a little water and salt too, and it was the best chard i've ever cooked or eaten.


Anonymous said...

thanks for that!! i'm definitely saving the tutorial for another rainy day. (hopefully not till next spring. enough!!)

casey said...

ok. that sounds really effing good. yum!

and btw, it rained/sleeted for roughly 52 hours straight here. FIFTY TWO. freaking insane. thank gods we live on a big, big hill.

hey mama said...

52!!!!! daaaaaamn. i feel like a big wimp now. but isn't that how you mainers are supposed to make the rest of us feel? :)