24 February 2012

Short Ribs Braised in Wine - Comfort Food Classic

Short Ribs Braised in Wine / www.delightfulrepast.com

Short ribs braised in wine is classic winter comfort food. Pick a day you're planning to hang around the house for several hours. There isn't that much work to do, but the first stint in the oven takes nearly an hour and the second, two and a half. Your main job will be to simply savor the aromas wafting out of your kitchen! Though you could eat the short ribs the same day you cook them, they are even better when made a day or two ahead.

If you've ever had short ribs, you know they are like mini pot roasts of the most succulent sort! But (Isn't there always a but?) they are so meltingly tender and delicious after long, slow cooking because they have so much fat. But I do something about that at four different stages, so what you end up with is really quite good for you after all.

Most recipes I've seen for braised short ribs just have you taking the short ribs out of the package, briefly browning them on the stove, popping them in the oven, and then serving them up after a mere skimming of the braising liquid. That just doesn't cut it with me! 

First, I trim off lots of the visible fat. Second, I put them in the oven for a long stretch of flavor-building browning, which produces lots of fat you can drain away. Third, after braising, I put the strained braising liquid in the refrigerator and let the fat rise to the top and solidify for easy removal. Fourth, I remove lots of fat while I'm separating the meat from the bones.

I know it sounds like it, but it really isn't all that much work. And the end result is worth it. Especially when you're using really good short ribs like the organic grass-fed short ribs sent to me by Rocky Mountain Organic Meats, a company that incorporates environmentally friendly agriculture practices, healthy land stewardship and--most important to me--the ethical treatment of animals into their production of certified organic, grass-fed and grass-finished beef.

Short ribs are sometimes served on a bed of polenta or noodles, both delicious, but I prefer mine on a bed of creamy smooth mashed potatoes. Which do you prefer?

Short Ribs Braised in Wine - A Comfort Food Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Short Ribs Braised in Wine

(Serves 4)

5 pounds organic grass-fed bone-in beef short ribs
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 cups drinkable dry red wine
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups lower sodium chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Make day ahead so you can chill liquid and easily remove fat.

1 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange meat, fattest side down, in single layer in oiled roasting pan; season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast 35 minutes; turn and continue roasting for 15 minutes, until very well browned.

Note: You need a roasting pan that can be used on the stovetop as well as in the oven. After frustrating years of making do with cheapie roasting pans, when I finally invested in a "real" roasting pan, I never looked back. It's the Calphalon LRS1805P Stainless 16-Inch Roaster with Nonstick Roasting Rack, and it can do anything! 

2 Transfer ribs to plate; set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Pour off fat from roasting pan and place roasting pan over burner on medium heat; add wine and bring to simmer, scraping up browned bits. Set aside.

3 In 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pan and cook until soft, about 12 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in liquid from roasting pan, chicken broth, diced tomatoes,1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and seasonings. Bring to boil and add ribs, completely submerging in liquid; return to boil, cover pan with foil and lid and simmer in 300 oven for 2 1/2 hours.

4 Transfer ribs from pot to 2.5-quart oval Corning casserole. Strain braising liquid into 4-cup glass measure, pressing out liquid from solids; discard solids. Refrigerate for easy removal of fat. When ribs are cool enough to handle, separate the meat from the bones; discard bones.

5 Remove fat from sauce. Add water, if needed, to bring volume of sauce to 2 cups. Pour over ribs in casserole. Refrigerate until one hour before serving time.

6 One hour before serving, heat casserole at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Serve in shallow soup plate over mashed potatoes. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley.


17 February 2012

Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese - Sneaky, Huh?

Sneaky Macaroni and Cheese is what I call this recipe when young picky eaters are on the scene, but I just called the post Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese 'cause we're all grown-ups here, right? There's a serious amount of cauliflower in there, but can you even see it? See what I mean ... sneaky.

I thought I should make a comfort food classic like macaroni and cheese this week because ... drum roll, please ... this week is my Second Blogiversary as a blogger of comfort food! Should have had a cake for the occasion, but I wasn't in the mood for anything sweet. Help me celebrate by following Delightful Repast and telling your friends about it: Stumble it, Pin it, Tweet it, whatever.

Do you have a picky eater in the house? Do you ever "disguise" vegetables in a sneaky way? Do leave a comment and tell me your best tips. And put a little cauliflower over on your picky eater!

Sneaky Macaroni and Cheese

8 ounces elbow macaroni

1 medium (about 1 3/4 pounds) head cauliflower, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 quart milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 pound medium cheddar, shredded

1 In large pot, at least 5 1/2 quarts (I use Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven), bring 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Lightly butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish or two smaller, shallow baking dishes.

2 About 5 minutes before adding the macaroni to the boiling water, preheat oven to 375 degrees and start sauce. In 3-quart saucepan, heat butter until foaming but not browning. Add flour, salt, dry mustard, pepper, red pepper flakes and cayenne; whisk for about a minute. Gradually whisk in milk and cream, whisking or stirring constantly until mixture slowly comes to a full boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in cheese.

3 Meanwhile, add macaroni and salt to rapidly boiling water; cook for 3 minutes less than the maximum time specified on the package. Add cauliflower to the pot for the final 3 minutes.

4 Drain pasta and cauliflower in colander; return to pot. Add cheese sauce, and stir until well combined.

5 Pour into prepared baking dish(es). Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

10 February 2012

Baked Beans - From Scratch

Baked beans are part of my heritage in two ways. They're a New England thing, and my paternal grandfather's people started out there when they stepped off the Mayflower nearly 400 years ago. And they are something my dear Aunt Sissy (who died in 2010) made regularly for family and friends.

She used a pottery bean crock, similar to this Brown 3-Quart Ceramic Baked Bean Pot. I don't have such a pot, so I just use my multipurpose CorningWare French White 2-1/2-Quart Round Casserole Dish with Glass Cover. It works great, even if it doesn't look as "authentic." And you do need a proper dish in which to bake the beans if you are actually baking your baked beans. Aunt Sissy was just about the only person I've ever known who did. Most people do a stovetop version with canned beans.

I've deviated from Aunt Sissy's recipe before by cooking the beans entirely in the oven rather than an hour on the stovetop followed by time in the oven. But the beans are every bit as good when started on the stove, so I'm going to tell you her way instead. The end result is perfect.

In the UK, baked beans are an essential element of the full English breakfast and of the comfort food favorite beans on toast. They are not baked but rather canned beans in a tomato sauce with about half the sugar of canned baked beans in the US.

Aunt Sissy's Baked Beans (more widely known as Nana's Baked Beans)

(Makes 8 servings)

1 1-pound package navy or small white beans
6 cups water
4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
1/2 cup finely minced onion (1 small onion)
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/4 cups ketchup (Muir Glen organic)

1 Rinse and pick over beans to remove any debris. In 3-quart saucepan, soak beans overnight (8 to 24 hours) in 2 quarts of water salted with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt.

2 Drain and rinse soaked beans, and add 6 cups fresh water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Drain in colander over a large bowl, reserving the liquid.

3 Cut 2 strips of bacon the diameter of your casserole; reserve for garnish. By hand or in the food processor, finely mince the remaining bacon. In skillet, cook bacon until crisp; add to beans. Pour off all but about a tablespoon of bacon fat (or add oil to make 1 tablespoon fat) and saute chopped onion until soft; add to beans.

4 Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Add remaining ingredients to beans; stir until thoroughly combined. Pour into 2.5-quart lidded casserole. Add enough of the reserved liquid to cover the beans (In my CorningWare French White 2-1/2-Quart Round Casserole Dish with Glass Cover, that was 1 1/4 cups).

5 Cross 2 strips of bacon on top of the beans. Put on the lid. If you want to keep your lid clean, cover the casserole with foil before putting the lid on. Bake for 2 hours at 300 degrees.

02 February 2012

Homemade Slider Buns - Pulled Pork Sliders

Sliders have slid right out of fashion, or hadn't you heard? I find trends, in general, rather tiresome. So, of course, the minute I hear that some food is cliché, passé and "so over," I have to whip up a batch!

In or out, I like what I like. And I like small sandwiches. Whether you call them sliders or something else, if it's a delicious small sandwich, I want one!

The slider (or small sandwich, if you prefer) pictured above is a Southern classic, pulled pork and tangy slaw. (A dozen people pronounced it delicious last Saturday!) I'll save those recipes for another day. (30 August 2012 update: I just posted my recipe for Pulled Pork.) Today we're making homemade slider rolls; they can also be used as small dinner rolls.

If you're one of the more than 163 million viewers expected to tune in to the Super Bowl on Sunday, you're going to need some food! What could be better than a big tray full of Super Bowl Sliders--pulled pork or otherwise?

Where do you stand on the issue of sliders? of food trends? of trends in general? 

Pull-Apart Slider Rolls or Dinner Rolls

(Makes 24 small rolls) 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 
1 cup water, room temperature 
2 1/2 tablespoons organic canola oil 
3 1/2 packed cups (17.5 ounces/500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided 
1/4 cup sugar 
2 teaspoons instant yeast 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 large egg, slightly beaten 

1 If your kitchen is cold and you want to speed up the rising time, preheat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. (If you have a really old pre-electronic ignition gas oven, just the heat from the pilot light will be sufficient.) Grease a 2-quart bowl* with 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter (for first rise). Grease 13x9x2-inch baking dish with 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter. 
*Using the straight-sided Pyrex 8-Cup Measuring Cup makes it easy to tell when dough has doubled. 

2 Put water, oil and 2 tablespoons butter in 1-quart glass measure. Microwave on high power until water is warm (110 to 120 degrees), about 2 minutes, depending on your oven. Stir until all the butter is melted. (I use my Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer because if the liquid is too hot it can kill the yeast.)

3 In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour, then add water mixture and egg to the well. With dough whisk or large wooden spoon, slowly stir until soft, shaggy dough comes together. 

4 Spread 1/4 cup of flour onto work surface, and reserve 1/4 cup to use as needed. Turn the dough out onto floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed (to keep the dough from sticking to the surface), until the dough forms a smooth ball. Place smooth ball of dough in buttered bowl and turn to coat all sides of dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. If the oven rack feels quite hot, put a potholder between it and the bowl. 

5 Punch dough down (by pressing down in center and folding in edges), turn out on lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces by first dividing it into 4 equal pieces then rolling each piece into a thick log and cutting each log into 6 equal pieces. Keep dough pieces covered with plastic wrap or overturned bowl as you shape each piece into a ball by rolling it on the counter and between your palms. Place in 4 rows of 6 in buttered baking dish. Spray the same piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray, cover dish lightly and return to turned-off oven until rolls have doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

6 Remove dish from oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Uncover rolls and bake for about 15 to 17 minutes, or until well browned. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Keeping rolls together, remove rolls from baking dish and cool on wire rack for 2 hours. If not serving until later, return completely cooled rolls to the baking dish and cover with plastic or foil. Store at room temperature until later in the day or even the next day, whenever you're making the sliders.

7 Cut rolls in half horizontally and assemble sliders just before serving.

Note: Oh, yeah, you'll need some dessert! Try my quick and easy feeds-a-crowd chocolate buttermilk sheet cake!