"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Garlic/Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

[Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs w/Parmesan-Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts]
Have you ever taken your first bite of a meal where you get an explosion of flavors and texture in your mouth, and you just close your eyes so you can slowly savor every second of that first bite? If you love the complex flavors of food as much as I do, you know it when you have tasted something that just gives you an indescribable sense of enjoyment the minute you taste it.

Tonight, I had a culinary experience that I will remember for a long time! I recently found this recipe in Bon Appetit for red wine-braised short ribs that sounded delicious when I read it. So, I decided today was the perfect day to try making it because it was a "chill down" Sunday for our family. We had a long day (and night!) yesterday because, on top of ballet and soccer games, our kids' school had its annual auction. We were up really late. And, with the time change, we were so looking forward to the extra hour in the day.

[Short ribs cut by the Butcher on order.]
[Nice Cab as my braising wine.]
So, yesterday, I went to Berkeley Bowl and got some short ribs. I had the Butcher cut the ribs into pieces for me. When I was ready to cook, all I had to do was season the meat, and it was ready to go. That's less work for me! I used a bottle of J Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon to braise the ribs. It's really important that you use good quality wine when you are braising meat. The quality of your wine dictates the quality of the flavor of your meat when it's cooked. You don't have to use something really expensive, but use a decent bottle of wine - the meat will take on the flavor of your wine. Here is the recipe (modified, as noted in bold):

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

5 pound bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2" pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups low-salt beef stock

[Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs - After 3 Hours of Braising]
Preheat oven to 350°F. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

Cook until short ribs are tender, 2-2 1/2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes with sauce spooned over.

[NOTE: I braised the ribs for about 3 hours, and the meat fell off the bones, and was literally melting in my mouth. The great thing about braising is that you put it in the oven and forget it until the timer goes off. So, you have time to do your chores around the house, go for a walk or run, or just enjoy a movie with the family. For me, while the ribs were braising, I picked up my 6-year-old son from a play date, I helped my daughter and 4-year-old son with homework, I did laundry, and went for a run.]

Side Dishes?
For sides, I made this amazing, buttery, creamy garlic Parmesan mashed potatoes. Here is a rough recipe:

2 pounds of red potatoes (washed under cool water)
1 whole head of garlic
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons of salted butter
1/2 cup of sour cream (Light is okay)
1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
Salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon of ground white pepper (use fresh ground black pepper, if you don't have white pepper)
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (plus 2 Tablespoon for "au gratin" crust)

[Garlic/Parmesan Mashed Potatoes]
Cut off the top from the head of garlic and place the body on a small piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle the olive oil on top. Season it with a couple of rounds of fresh ground black pepper. Loosely close the foil. Place the garlic in the oven while the ribs are cooking, and roast the garlic for about 1 hour (or until soft and you can just squeeze it into the mashed potatoes).

Boil the potatoes (with skin on) until soft and ready to be mashed. When cooked, drain and let cool. Then, peel the potatoes and return the peeled potatoes in the pot. Squeeze in the garlic (without the skin) into the potatoes. Add the butter, and about 1 teaspoon of salt, and mash. Add the sour cream and mix well. Add the whipping cream and stir to mix well. If the potatoes are a bit dry, add a little more sour cream and/or whipping cream. Stir in 1/2 cup of the the Parmesan cheese. Taste to see if you need more salt. If you do, add some more salt and add the pepper.

Once you have a nice creamy (and well-seasoned) mashed potatoes, spoon it into a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Bake it in the oven while the ribs are cooking for about 20 minutes. When the ribs are done, remove everything from the oven. Turn the broiler on HIGH. Return the potatoes in the oven, and broil the top for about 2-3 minutes. Make sure you watch it so it doesn't burn. Remove from the oven, and serve with short ribs.

[NOTE: When you combine a bite of the short ribs with a spoonful of the creamy mashed potatoes, there is a chorus of flavors singing songs of joy in your mouth. The meat is soft and delicious from all the herbs and hours of braising. The mashed potatoes are smooth, velvety, and buttery. I guarantee you, it's very hard to just have one serving.]

Tonight, I also made some roasted brussels sprouts, which I think go very well with braised meats and mashed potatoes. Roasted is the only way I eat Brussels sprouts.

Wine Pairing?
Of course, you can have any full-bodied, flavorful wine you have on hand. But, I think a nice Cabernet goes very well with the short-ribs - keeping the flavor profile. Tonight, we went with a really delicious and inexpensive bottle of Cabernet. It's Robert Hall's 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, CA) [http://www.roberthallwinery.com/product/2009-Cabernet-Sauvignon].  This wine is about $10 at Cost Plus (regularly $18). It has a beautifully intense dark ruby red color.  On the nose, you are greeted with wonderful aromas of dark ripe plums, black currant, and hint of cocoa powder.  On the palate, you are sure to enjoy delicious flavors of dark red fruits, a taste of dark chocolate and a hint of spice like star anise. The taste is smooth with a very nice finish. The rich and velvety flavors of this Cabernet compliment the exploding and earthy flavors of the short ribs very well.

I hope you and your family had a wonderful weekend, and took advantage of the extra hour from daylight savings time.

Until next time . . . Cheers!


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