The temps are FINALLY starting to drop in Orlando and it really feels like fall in the evenings. I've been longing to have a Sunday where I can take as much time as I'd like to make slow braised shortribs and a hearty fallish meal. My work weeks are so hectic and weekends seem to go by in a the blink of an eye, designing for PoshBetty, family obligations, catching up on housework, visiting with friends...there's never enough time! That being said, last Sunday was all mine, (in fact, I don't even think I spoke to anyone on the phone) and I loved every minute of it. Shortribs are an item I'll always order when they are available to me, I'm a sucker for any sort of meat that is so tender and succulent it just falls from the bone. The funny thing about this dish is that it always looks so complicated, like it's really hard work to do, yet honestly, it couldn't be simpler. The dutch oven pretty much does the work for you, you just need some precious time.
Although there are tons of ways to prepare this meal, I was going for traditional and I wanted a comfort food with flavors I can relate to my past. Growing up, my mother always prepared a pasta dish called Spaghetti Genovese. It was a bigtime favorite in the house and it consisted of slow braised chunks of beef with carrots and onions. It created this amazing broth that would thicken as soon as the parmigiano entered the pot. Although I wasn't planning to add parmigiano to my shortribs, I knew the sauce I created would have a very similar taste.
Early in the afternoon, I started out by seasoning these beautiful ribs with sea salt and cracked black pepper. They were followed by a quick searing in olive oil on all sides for a few minutes until they turned dark, rich and crispy. I set the oven to 350 degrees as I prepared the remainder of the pot. Setting the ribs aside I threw in my finely chopped onion, garlic, celery, tomatoes and carrots. As the veggies started to cook down, I returned the shortribs to the pot and added nearly an entire bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. When you are going to braise a meat it's important to cover all of the meat with liquid, the liquid will cook down once it finishes in the oven. I added about a cup of water to the pot to balance out the wine a bit. Lastly, I made a little bundle of fresh herbs containing rosemary and thyme and dropped that into the pot. Putting the lid on, I slid it into the oven to cook for one and half hours.
What hearty meaty meal isn't complete without potatoes? I had loaded mashed potatoes on my mind. I fried up about 5 slices of bacon and set it aside on some paper towels once crisp. I boiled a few yukon golds until fork tender (about 30 minutes) and drained. Returning the potatoes to the pot, I added a bit more butter than I care to mention but balanced it with a few drizzles of olive oil. I usually add olive oil to all of my dishes that require butter. For me, it's a way to cheat using too much butter but still maintain a rich buttery flavor. The loaded mashed potatoes are of course meant to simulate a baked potato. To avoid using sour cream, I subbed in plain Greek yogurt, awesome substitute I might add. I must confess that I reserved a bit of the bacon grease and "might've" put in a teaspoon or two, did I just admit that? The last ingredient to my potato madness, a handful of freshly shredded Vermont cheddar. A bit of cream and milk, sea salt and pepper and it's time mashing time. The potatoes are super creamy and take on the perfect whipped texture. I set my potatoes aside in the pot until dinner.
After the first leg of cooking the shortribs, I uncovered the pot and let it cook for another one and half hours. Man, was the house smelling fantastic...I really do wish I could bottle that smell! As the time was up for the ribs, I removed the herb bundle and meat. I used an immersion blender to blend the cooked veggies and create a sauce. I'd use this sauce to set beneath my shortribs. Once the sauce was blended, I returned the meat back to the pot to leave in the oven on it's lowest setting until ready to eat.
And of course the buttery and cheesy loaded mashed potatoes, finished with chopped chives and crispy bacon.
Dinner was out of control delicious and really, every Sunday meal should be this fantastic. I can't wait to make shortribs again and I already have a different version in my head for a spicy, sweet spin...all I need is a little free time.