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WND – Weight Lifting

December 10, 2009

This is the part where I admit that I’m the most boring person in the entire world.  I get excited about kitchen equipment.  I’m like a bad parody of a 1950s housewife.  My parents asked what I wanted for Christmas/birthday and all I could really come up with was gloves (because I lost one of mine at the end of last winter – and why is is that you only ever lose one glove and never the pair?) and a Dutch oven. 

Actually, to be really precise I wavered between a Dutch oven and a slow cooker because I want both, but only have room to store one.  I polled Dinner to find out if there was a general consensus on which one would be more useful and got a resounding vote for a Dutch oven.  Possibly my roommate was leaning more towards a slow cooker, but I’m still struggling with timing issues on a slow cooker – most slow cooker recipes are timed for 7-8 hours, but I’m leave the house at 7:30am and don’t get home until 7:00pm.  I know you can get slow cookers that have a timed on switch so I could set it to come on at 10-10:30, but that still means that you’ve got raw meat sitting out for 2-2 ½ hours and while theoretically anything that developed would be killed dead by the cooking it still makes me a little uneasy, so until I get over that I can’t quite convince myself to use a slow cooker.

Anyway, long story short (or at least shorter) apparently my mother has taken over ordering my birthday presents because last year I got an awesome oven safe skillet (used just a few days ago to make skillet pizza – thank you America’s Test Kitchen for my favorite quick easy dinner recipe) and this year I got a huge red Dutch oven.  Since I’m having trouble imagining that my father really understands why these are exceptionally cool things to give as presents I’m guessing that my mother is being persuasive, for which I’m very appreciative.

Since I got the Dutch oven, and got it before I went to the store on Sunday, I clearly had to use it to make Dinner this week and I’ve been wanting to try braised beef short ribs ever since every cooking blog in the world rediscovered them more or less simultaneously and every where I click I come across a new recipe and someone else gushing over how good they are.  The recipe I used actually comes from epicurious but that’s mostly because it involved dried fruit and red wine and those two things in combination are pretty much guaranteed to make me try a recipe, although I did see a recipe for short ribs braised in chocolate and coffee that was also very tempting.  As with most stewed/braised meats as far as I’m concerned I’d be perfectly happy to just eat the gravy with noodles and skip the meat, but the meat did cook up to a lovely fork tender, falling off the bone consistency which I’m told is a sign you did something right.

Beef Short Rib Tagine
Egg Noodles
Broccoli

Mini Napoleon Things

Beef Short Rib Tagine

5 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb onions, chopped
16 3- to 4-inch pieces meaty beef chuck short ribs, any tough membrane trimmed

3 Tbsp all purpose flour
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 ½ cups dry red wine
1 cup prune juice
1 Tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
2 oz pitted dates, diced
2 oz dried pears, diced (or apples or apricots or peaches or whatever lightly flavored dried fruit floats your boat – I used apples)

1 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 325°F. Heat 3 Tbsp oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until brown, about 20 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer onions to large bowl.

Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Add 1 Tbsp oil to same pot. Add 8 short ribs and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer ribs to bowl with onions. Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil to pot. Add remaining 8 ribs and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer ribs to same bowl.

Whisk flour into drippings in pot. Whisk in 2 cups broth. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Mix in remaining 2 cups broth, wine, prune juice, tomato paste and spices. Return ribs to pot, arranging close together on their sides in single layer if possible. Add dates and pears; add onions and any juices.

Bring liquid to boil; cover pot. Place pot in oven and bake until ribs are tender, about 1.5-2 hours.

Using tongs, transfer ribs to large bowl. Strain cooking liquid into medium bowl, pressing on contents of strainer. Freeze liquid until fat rises to top, about 30 minutes (or refrigerate separately from ribs overnight). Spoon off fat. Return liquid to pot. Add honey; boil until sauce is thick enough to coat spoon and is reduced to 3 cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. return ribs to pot, spooning sauce over to coat. (Short ribs can be made 2 days ahead. Refrigerate until cold; then cover and keep chilled.)

Rewarm ribs over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Notes:

I didn’t turn my oven on until I started browning the ribs, because it really doesn’t need to preheat for the hour or so it takes to brown the onions, brown the ribs and put the sauce together.

I removed the ribs and refrigerated them separately and let the sauce cool overnight and then scooped the fat off.  This is not a step you want to skip because there is so much fat that will render out of the beef ribs (see picture below for visceral visual proof).

Like most stews/braised things this gets better if it sits in the fridge overnight.

The original recipe calls for you to serve this with a honeyed glazed butternut squash.  I did it with egg noodles because we have one member of Dinner who is being slowly converted to the appeal of cooked orange vegetables and I thought this might be just too much cooked orange vegetable, particularly since there wasn’t much else on the plate.  I do, however, think the flavor combination would be amazing.

Mini Napoleon Things
Not made by me.  We have a friend who is a pastry chef, and when she asked if I wanted a dessert for my birthday I requested anything with pastry cream because I love pastry cream and I’m never going to make it myself.

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