Monday, June 25, 2012

The Next Generation Cooks, Too
What’s cooking? Braised Short Ribs with Polenta and Chard



My nephew Bradley turns 33 today. Because he lives on the West Coast, I didn’t see a lot of him in the years when he was growing up. But with both my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday and an East Coast family wedding last year, I’ve had more opportunities to get to know him as an adult.

And what fun it has been. He’s a computer whiz, a wilderness explorer, an amazing photographer, and...[drum roll, please] a cooking geek like me!

One of the nicest things about Bradley – aside from his good looks and fun personality – is that he appears to be absolutely fearless in the kitchen. He tackles everything from Crispy Pata (a Filipino dish of deep fried pork legs) to artisan pizza. It took me years to get over my fear of making a mistake in the kitchen, until I learned that it’s like planting a flower that doesn’t grow – you just throw it out and move on. Or order pizza. I don’t know how often Bradley gets to the pizza-ordering stage, but we should all be so daring.



For the family wedding last year, I put together a recipe book for the bride and groom, and Bradley contributed the recipe below. He serves his Braised Short Ribs in a beautiful presentation with polenta and chard, shown in this photo. (Remember, I said he’s a world-class photographer in addition to being a terrific cook.) And he blogs occasionally about his culinary adventures, at a site he calls Oakland Skillet. The Kitchen Goddess is green with loving envy.



Braised Short Ribs with Polenta and Chard

INGREDIENTS

For the Short Ribs:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 pounds English-style beef short ribs (English-cut short ribs)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups full-bodied red wine
16-oz can of peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, with their juices
1 cup dark chicken stock
½ bunch thyme
½ bunch rosemary
½ bunch oregano

For the Polenta:
4 cups water
1 cup corn meal (polenta)
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter
1½ cups freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, or 1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano

For the Chard:
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium shallot or ½ onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch chard cut in ½-inch strips, thickest part of stems removed
1 Tablespoon wine vinegar (red, white, or champagne)
salt and pepper to taste

TO BRAISE THE SHORT RIBS:

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and brown them over high heat until deep brown all on sides. Work in batches. [Kitchen Goddess note: For best color and flavor, be careful not to overcrowd the ribs in the browning process. With too much meat in the pan, the juices will accumulate and you’ll end up boiling the meat instead.]

Move the browned short ribs to a plate and set aside. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the pan and cook over high heat until browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the red wine, tomatoes and juices, chicken stock and herbs, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge the brown bits. Bring the mixture to a boil and return the short ribs to the pan. Cover and place in the oven for 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and literally falling off the bones.

Remove ribs from braising liquid and set on a plate. Strain braising liquid into a saucepan. Discard solids and place ribs back in the pot in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve. Reduce the braising liquid by half over medium-high heat.

FOR THE POLENTA:

Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan. Add salt. Slowly add polenta, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. When polenta begins to thicken, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add butter and cheese. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and cover.

FOR THE CHARD:

To a large skillet, add garlic and olive oil. Turn on heat to medium high. Heat garlic and oil until the garlic begins to turn a golden color. Add shallot or onion and stir until softened. Add chard. Toss until the chard begins to wilt. Add vinegar and toss for 5-10 minutes until desired softness is reached. Salt and pepper to taste.

ASSEMBLY:

Spoon about a half cup of polenta in the center of a plate. Place a serving of the chard on top of the polenta. Place two short ribs on top of the chard. Spoon the reduced braising liquid on top of the meat and around the outside of the polenta.

2 comments:

  1. What a cool idea for a wedding present!

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  2. The hardest part is getting the recipes from all the family members, but it sure was worthwhile. I used Tastebook, which makes the whole project very polished.

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