January 16, 2013

The Maine Ingredient: Humble short ribs gain stature

By BROOKE DOJNY

Interesting how cuts of meat come in and go out of vogue. A few years ago, short ribs (meaty tail ends of the beef ribs) were scarcely on the radar but now you see them on trendy restaurant menus all over the place. And they are delicious, with a rich meaty flavor and connective tissue that melts with long cooking to create a wonderful tenderness.

The braising liquid cries out for a starchy accompaniment -- in this case, a smooth puree of potatoes and celery root. Just add a leafy mesclun salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette for a winter meal fit for any night of the week.

BRAISED MUSTARD-HORSERADISH SHORT RIBS

Tangy mustard and horseradish add a piquant dimension to the rich sauce.

Serves about six

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 to 5 pounds beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried, crumbled sage

½ cup dry red wine

1 (15-ounce) can beef broth

2 bay leaves

Water, if necessary

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in 1½-inch lengths or baby carrots

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1½ tablespoons prepared horseradish

Minced parsley

In a large stew pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Sprinkle the ribs generously with salt and pepper. Cook ribs over medium heat, turning often, until well browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove ribs from the pot and add the onion, garlic, thyme, and sage and cook, stirring often, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add wine, raise heat to high, and boil until liquid is reduced by about half. Return ribs to the pot, add broth and bay leaves and enough water to just cover the meat, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook until meat is fork tender and almost falling off the bone, 1½ to 2 hours. Tilt pan and spoon off as much fat as you can. (Or refrigerate overnight and lift fat off top of stew.)

Meanwhile, simmer carrots in boiling salted water until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain.

Whisk mustard and horseradish into stewing liquid and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until sauce is lightly thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in carrots and parsley, and season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

POTATO AND CELERY ROOT PUREE

Celery root -- "celeriac" in French -- is my new favorite root vegetable. It's knobby and brown and unpromising-looking, but the flavor has an intriguing celery-mushroomy taste. It's great in combination with potatoes. Cut off the stem end and then use a vegetable peeler to remove the brown skin.

Serves about six

1½ pounds all-purpose or Russet potatoes

1 large celery root (about 1 pound)

2/3 cup milk or half-and-half or cream

2 tablespoons butter

Grating of fresh nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel potatoes and celery root and cut into 1½- to 2-inch chunks. Cook in a pot of boiling salted water until both are very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, return pot to low heat, and shake for about a minute to release moisture.

Put potatoes and celery root through a ricer or mash with a potato masher, adding milk and butter and beating until smooth. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made ahead and reheated in a microwave.)

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently "Lobster!" (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

 

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