Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Short, Yet Oh So Long

I needed to cook some short ribs. No really. I’ve looking at the damn things at my butchers, Los Paisanos in Brooklyn, for months, just waiting for a point in my life when I had the time. I looked up recipes, which in the end, I ignored. (Including a video of Mark Bittman, NY Times food columnist, practically having a orgasm after cooking them.) I had a jones I needed to get over.
So the initial idea was to braise in beer, dark beer. But I just never got around to getting any. Since our most gracious friends let us use their house while they are in Ireland for a year and are between renters, I made the most of a real kitchen. Ya know, counter tops, a stove that throws real heat, and an oven that you can set to a temperature and it stays at said temperature. I brought over my magic pot and since I had a bottle of wine hanging around the apartment, I figured I would just use that. Not that I really, really wanted to. I had my heart set on beer. I wanted that deep malty flavor along with the beef. But, it was all I had and I was too lazy to stop at the store, and actually too cheap to spring for it.

I separated the ribs at home into their individual meat laden selves, and headed over to our friends place. God Bless them and their kitchen. I got the magic pot nice and hot, added a little oil and set to giving them a nice browning on all sides. I was still unsure of how I wanted to braise them, and went to raid their cupboards. I needed a drink first though. Upon opening there liquor cabinet there it was. Hell, if I couldn’t have beer, I’d have Bourbon as a braising liquid. Ah just so damn perfect. I just couldn’t use it straight. I had to cut it with something and it was back to the cupboards. Bless the house owners little vegetarian heart. She had one of those little 4 packs of vegetable stock, ya know in those annoying cardboard containers. Ok, so it was a little out of date, those things really don’t go bad though right? I finished browning the ribs, took them out, and caramelized some onions and celery. Poured in the two little containers of veg. stock, I smelled it first of course, and poured in about three glugs bourbon and let it come to a hard simmer to boil some of the alcohol off. It had a very strong bourbon smell that worried me a bit. But, I couldn’t do much about it now. So in went the short ribs, put the cover on and set my baby in the oven at 300 degrees.

It simmered a little too hard, so I dropped the oven to 250, then 200. For about 4 hours they hung out there, braising away, disturbed only a few times for a turn. I roasted some potatoes along side the last hour and a half. I let the ribs rest while a skimmed the braising liquid of most of the fat, and boiled it down a bit. To my amazement, the strong bourbon scent that it had when it went in was almost gone, with just a hint of the bourbon sweetness, and ended up with a very rich and mellow pan sauce.

And the short ribs, holy crap, man I can’t believe it took my 43 years to have these beautiful pieces of heaven. What an ass.

Oh, there will be a new bottle of bourbon waiting for you when you get home.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Heart Attack Grill

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Remember The Turkey?

So you might think I would need to have my head examined. After cooking a full bird on Thanksgiving a few months ago, half-assidly I might add, I decided I needed to cook some turkey in a different way. Well, I had two extra legs in the freezer that I didn’t take out to cook with the big bird. So I decided I would try out, on a small scale, what I planned to do next Thanksgiving. Yep, going to jettison roasting the whole bird and braise the damn thing. In parts of course. Taken apart. So I can get the dark and the white meat cooked correctly without doing the back flips it takes to roast the damn abnormally bred fowl we use for that oh so thankful holiday. It was far enough away from the actual holiday, so the memory of that crappy turkey was far enough back in the rear-view mirror

I browned the legs quickly in a hot pan with oil, took the legs out, and then added some vegetables, some brussel sprouts, carrots and potatoes, to give them a little browning. I put it all in a roasting pan, and threw in a halved apple for good measure. Little white wine (it was a bit too fruity, but it was what was open), a bit of turkey stock I had made with the carcass just after the Thanksgiving meal, and the drippings from the pan used for the browning. I set it in the oven for a slow roast, about 225, for a few hours. The liquid was about half way up the meat and was plenty to last the whole braising in an uncovered roasting pan.

After it looked right, I swear I’m not using a thermometer any more and just learning to do it by feel. I pulled it of the oven, pulled the legs out to rest on a board for a bit, put the vegetables on a platter and cooked down the pan sauce after skimming off some of the fat.

Eh, sauce wasn’t so bad.,.would have been better with a drier white wine. Turkey was perfect though, moist, flavorful with a nice crisp skin on top. Vegetables had a real nice flavor after swimming in the braising liquid and roasting a bit. The apple was killer. ( I had one slice cut side down and one up to see the difference, keep it up, falls aprt too much if you don’t.) My roasting turkey days may be over. No more wrestling with a 20 pound bird at eight in the morning and worrying all day about it. Just braising my fowl to make it right.

Monday, January 5, 2009