Sunday, September 08, 2013

Mario Batali's Braised Short Ribs & Christmas Cove

When it comes to food, it's no secret that I'm a big fat copy cat. I take from the best, of course. But what's more fun that having something you like and then trying to perfect it at home? In Maine, one of the highlights was a three-family dinner in the impossibly beautiful Christmas Cove, where each family brought a course.  (Can you see why I loved Maine, now? It looks so much like Norway!)

Christmas Cove, Maine (photo not mine)

Christmas Cove at dusk

MissW trying out grilled oysters - yum!
Now there was some serious jockeying going on. Clearly competitive cooking was a subtext. These guys take their food seriously! I was in heaven. The menu: a selection of local cheeses, olives, salami. Grilled peppers with goat's cheese. Oysters grilled in their shell with herb butter. Buttered lobster (a la Thomas Keller) with risotto. Short ribs with gremolata and chunky tomato salad. Peach and raspberry crisp and vanilla ice cream. I think I was rolled out of there.

the beautiful Jen making tomato salad

lovely Charlotte, Rick & MissW at Christmas Cove

grilled oysters on rock salt

And since then I've been on a mission to perfect short ribs. They're surprisingly easy. The best recipe I've found is Mario Batali's:

Brasato Al Barolo (Braised Short Ribs)
Makes 4 Servings | Region: Piemonte | Book: Babbo Cookbook (Clarkson Potter 2002)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 16-ounce beef short ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups Barolo, or other full-bodied red wine
1 16-ounce can of peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand with their juices
1 cup brown chicken stock
1/2 bunch thyme
1/2 bunch rosemary
1/2 bunch oregano

Leaves from 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
Zest of two lemons, cut into julienne strips
1/4 pound fresh horseradish, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and cook them over high heat until deep brown all on sides, about 15 minutes total.
Remove the 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 with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and literally falling off the bones.

To make the gremolata:
In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest and horseradish and toss loosely by hand.
Place one short rib in each bowl, top with a little of the pan juices and a handful of the gremolata, and serve immediately.

Serve with risotto milanese and (in my opinion) a lovely, fresh heirloom tomato salad.

short rib, Clive's risotto & tomatoes (image: @lucylean)

Risotto Milanese (from Mario Batali)
Serves 4
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 teaspoon saffron threads
3 1/2 cups chicken stock, hot
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for sprinkling

In a 12 to 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile add the saffron to the stock, stirring to infuse. Once the onions are translucent add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the wine to the toasting rice, and then add a 4 to 6-ounce ladle of the saffron-infused stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese until well mixed. Portion risotto into 4 warmed serving plates, serving with extra cheese. 

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