Friday, January 27, 2012

I'll be honest, this post is a bit of a repeat. The photos are fresh, and some changes made to the recipe, but déja-vu, nonetheless

But here's the thing: Everybody should have a go-to meal. Whether for that mindless mid-week dinner, or when you're hosting friends on a Saturday night, it's handy to know a dish inside out, to feel confident that the meal will come off without a hitch. Maybe it's the first time you're cooking for your new girlfriend, or perhaps a colleague is coming over. Take the pressure off and  learn to perfect one great meal.

Our friend Daniel, he heads for Coq au Vin. T.J. can do a Roast Beef Dinner like nobody's business. Paul can whip up his famous from-scratch Mac 'n Cheese in his sleep. And, Natasha, well . . . F her. She can do anything, even if it's her first run at it.

For me, the now-famous Pork Roast with Apple Chutney is my usual go-to. I'm 99% confident it'll be a hit every time, which reduces Host Related Stress Disorder by a big margin. Once you've managed one great meal, try for two, or three. 

Another from my wheelhouse? Braised Beef Short Ribs. Perfect for an icy-cold January night. Wine-soaked meat that falls off the bone. On a heap of creamed corn. With a side of crispy green beans. It's tough to get bored of this meal.

They're not brain surgeons or high school gym teachers, so no need to be intimidated. I used to be terrified to ask questions or worried I'd look like a jag if I said the wrong thing. Most butchers (while appearing surly and often with terrifying eastern-European accents) are nice guys, and happy to answer questions. It makes them feel like the Meat Masters they are. So instead of lurking at the counter searching terms on your iPhone, step up and ask, "Hey there. I want to braise some short ribs. I'm cooking for 4. What am I gonna need?" Easy.

Beef Short Ribs

2lbs beef short ribs
A cup of flour
Olive oil
2 large carrots, loosely chopped
6 small shallots, loosely chopped
2 ribs of celery, loosely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh ginger, loosely minced
6 cloves of garlic, yeah, same, hackjob. (Don't be fussy with your vegetables for this.)
2 cups red wine
½ cup of balsamic vinegar
½ cup of Woodford Reserve Bourbon (or your favourite)
3½ cups beef stock
Several sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Salt your ribs generously and dredge in flour. In a large, well-oiled dutch oven, sear the ribs all on sides. Remove and set aside. In the same pot sautée your vegetables, garlic and ginger for a few minutes, then add the liquid and the herbs. Bring to a quick boil for just a few minutes. Gently add the ribs back to the pot and place, covered, in the oven for 2 or more hours until the meat is tender. You can't F this part up. Just let 'em ride.

Remove the meat again, tenting under foil, and strain the mire poix and liquid through a fine sieve. Discard the flavoured-up bits, and carefully pour the liquid back into the pot and place on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, reducing and thickening. Let it boil for 3 or 4 minutes, lower your heat and then leave to simmer. A few minutes before you're ready to plate, add the ribs back to the pot and get 'em all juiced-up. Serve with a healthy coating of this boozy-jus. Enjoy.

2010 Villa Maria Pinot Noir. $19.95, LCBO. Light, fruity, tart. Cherries. Very tasty.

Family Dinner - Pork with Apple Ginger Mash (September 9, 2010)
Gritting my Teeth | Chili Recipe (March 14, 2011)
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (April 19, 2011)
Beef Ragu with Maccheroni (March 24, 2011)


  1. Can't wait to try this recipe! Thanks for posting it!

  2. Made this tonight - SO yummy! I paired it with ricotta gnochhi and green beans. While the liquid was reducing I cut the fat off of the ribs and cut the meat up into smaller bites to serve right over the gnocchi. The flavor was amazing! Thanks!

  3. Oh Maura, that sounds amazing.
    I might recommend using another cut of meat to save yourself the time and trouble of hacking it off the bones. Just grab a hunk of veal shoulder or a chuck roast, cook similarly and shred. You'll get more meat out of it!

    In fact, check out this post: