Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beaujolais Braised Short Ribs

This dish was inspired by my Arnold’s Farm grass-fed beef package, Harvest Moon Farms CSA and a magnum George Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages. I had never prepared short ribs before and felt that braising was my best option. I had some nice onions and apples around and had just picked up a $6 magnum of the aforementioned Beaujolais from the Discount Wine Center.
I started off by caramelizing the the diced onion in olive oil & then added a couple of cloves of minced garlic, two small apples (sliced), a couple of teaspoons of ground ginger, a tablespoon of fresh thyme, a tablespoon of ground coriander, salt and pepper.
Let this saute for about five minutes & then add 3/4 of the magnum (about a regular-sized bottle and a half). Bring the wine and aromatics come to a boil & then simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce the volume of the liquid & intensify the flavors. While the wine reduces, season the short ribs with a liberal amount of salt and pepper and sear for about three minutes on all four sides in an extremely hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Be sure not to over crowd the skillet (work in batches if you have to), so you get some really nice browning. Once the braising liquid has reduced slightly and the ribs have all been browned nicely, add the meat to the liquid, making sure the meat is mostly submerged, cover, place in a 300° oven and braise for about 3 hours - turning the meat at the half-way point.
At this point the meat should be fork-tender & the bones should just fall away from the ribs, remove the ribs and strain the liquid - be sure to press as much of the liquid as you can out of the onions and apples. Allow the ribs to cool enough to handle and then remove the bones & any large areas of fat - you basically want to get rid of all but the good stuff. wrap the meat in foil and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
I usually do all of this the day before, so the liquid gets tossed in the chill-chest as well. When you are finally ready to bring all of this together, pour the liquid into a medium pot & bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes or so. while the liquid is simmering away, pull out a pair of kitchen shears & cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add the meat to the braising liquid allow to come to heat.
Serve the meat, drenched in its cooking liquid, alongside some potatoes and veggies or over wide egg noodles. We enjoyed ours with boiled and smashed, oven browned potatoes as well as some herb-lemon roasted onions.

The Beaujolais could be replaced by any red wine or semi-sweet beer (nothing bitter though) and this beverage would be the perfect accompaniment to this meal.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ground Cherries

These little gems popped up in my CSA basket & then again at this past week's Logan Square Farmer's Market. Prior to my CSA encounter a couple of weeks before, I had never heard of this fruit. This cousin of the tomatillo (which also grows inside of a husk) is said to be similar to a Cape Gooseberry (which again I have never heard of) and is native to North America. The texture was very similar to a grape tomato, but the flavor is much sweeter - closer to a grape. So far I have used the Ground Cherries in a salsa (combined with jalapeno, onion, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper) as well as a sweet addition to a smoked trout salad. Keep an eye out for these delicious little bastards.


smoked trout salad with ground cherries and arugula