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So I started making my last meal in Plano at 8 am today, and we ate at 6:45. That’s not even including rubbing the short ribs with chopped thyme and pepper last night. I took the ribs out of the fridge an hour before beginning, so they could come to room temperature, and I sprinkled them with salt 30 minutes before cooking time. I preheated my cast iron skillet in the oven, then browned the ribs in batches. I have a nasty burn on my palm because of this, but it was worth it. After the ribs were browned, I added the veggies. Once they were softened, I added a little balsamic and wine. It took 8-10 minutes to cook that down, then I added the rest of the liquid.

The amount of liquid I used ended up being two medium individual pinot noir bottles (not the teeny ones), one can beef broth, and 2 cans of water. Just enough so the ribs would be almost completely covered by water.

Everything went into a soup pot, then into the oven covered tightly with aluminum foil and the lid. I cooked at 350 for 2 1/2 hours. I checked on the ribs, and they were hanging on the bone for dear life. One of the ribs even fell off (There were 7, 2 point something lbs, and 14 something at Central Market.) They fed 5 people perfectly, by the way.

After the braise, I poured everything in another bowl and put it in the fridge. Once I was ready to pull it out, I attempted to scrap the fat off of the liquid. I also scraped some fat off of the ribs when transferring them to the sheet. I roasted the ribs in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. One suggestion Jacob made was to thicken the liquid (by boiling) while the ribs were cooking.

I mostly used Smitten Kitchen’s directions, but I also referred to Pioneer Woman’s recipe for short ribs. She added an extra step of cooking pancetta to help brown the ribs. I omitted Smitten Kitchen’s sides, but I did make the horseradish sour cream, which was a nice contrast to the hot, hearty meat and potatoes.

The potatoes, by the way, were my first attempt in a loooooong time at making mashed potatoes without cream cheese, sour cream, and the added step of baking. I followed Tyler’s chive and garlic mashed potato recipe, with a few adjustments. I had high hopes for these potatoes. I wanted them to be really smooth, rich, and flavorful. I pretty much have only made one type of potato, and I wanted these to be really different. It took a long time to mash them and get them smooth, but Erin and Jacob did a good job. I tasted them a little before dinner time, and they were bland! I was pretty disappointed until I realized I hadn’t added any S&P. Then they were delicious, yay!

This meal was really, really nice, and fun to make. I loved the smells and flavors (especially the wine!), and how cool the meat looked. It took a lot of planning, but it’s relatively simple if you have the time.

Serves 4 (generously) to 6

6 beef short ribs, about 14 to 16 ounces each (ask for 3 bone center-cut) – I asked for 6 at the store, we got 7 (one was really small)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 4 whole sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (once around the pan)
1 1/2 cups port
2 1/2 cups hearty red wine
6 cups beef or veal stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Horseradish Cream (recipe follows)

Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon thyme and the cracked black pepper. use your hands to coat the meat well. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Take the short ribs out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature. After 30 minutes, season them generously on all sides with salt.

When it’s time to cook the short ribs, heat a large Dutch oven [or a large saute pan, if you would like to use a separate braising dish; I aimed to use fewer dishes] over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil, and wait a minute or two, until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the short ribs in the pan, and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to sear the meat in batches. Do not crowd the meat or get lazy or rushed at this step; it will take at least 15 minutes. [I find this takes closer to 45 minutes if you’re really thorough. Be thorough! – I was not, I seared the meat for just a couple of minutes and it was fine. I wanted to not burn the rest of my hands] When the ribs are nicely browned, transfer them to a plate to rest.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme springs, and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Arrange ribs in the pot, lieing flat, bones standing up, in one layer. [If you used a saute pan for previous steps, transfer the ribs to a braising pan at this point.] Scrape any vegetables that have fallen on the ribs back into the liquid. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours. (I cooked them at 350…I don’t think SK ever specified the temp.)

To check the meat for doneness, remove the lid and foil, being careful of the escaping steam, and piece a short rib with a paring knife. When the meat is done, it will yield easily to a knife. Taste a piece if you are not sure. [If you would like to cook these a day ahead, this is where you can pause. The next day, you can remove the fat easily from the pot — it will have solidified at the top — bring these back to a simmer on the stove or in an oven, and continue.]

Let the ribs rest 10 minutes in their juices, and then transfer them to a baking sheet.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F.

Place the short ribs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown.

Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with a ladle to extract all the juices. (I didn’t bother, because I wanted to serve the veggies.) Skim the fat from the sauce (if you made these the day before, you will have already skimmed them) and, if the broth seems thin, reduce it over medium-high heat to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Chive and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered (I had two pounds of peeled potatoes, and that was plenty for 5 people)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 bay leaves (I had 2)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (1/2 cup plus a little more since my potatoes had to wait around for a little bit)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter (2 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp later on)
  • 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed (I used two big ones)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions

Put the cut potatoes into a large pot, cover them with cold water, and add salt and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain well and remove the bay leaves. Meanwhile, in a small pot heat the cream, butter, garlic, thyme, and remaining bay leaves. While the potatoes are still warm, press them through a potato ricer or food mill into a mixing bowl. Add the warm cream, straining out the solids, a bit at a time until the potatoes are fluffy. (I mashed the garlic right in with the potatoes.)Season with salt and pepper and gently stir in the chives. Serve immediately.

Horseradish Cream

3/4 cup créme fraîche (sour cream)
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the créme fraîche and horseradish in a small bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Taste for balance and seasoning.

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