Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta

The kids have their 3rd consecutive snow/ice holiday from school today.  WOOHOO!!  Obviously, the kids are thrilled.  We had some very unusually frigid temperatures yesterday and today, it was 14 degrees when we woke up this morning and tonight it's expected to get to another record low of 12 degrees...only a few degrees warmer than the North Pole.  Even with the extremely cold temperatures all of the Super Bowl festivities are trying desperately to get under way.  The Packers continue to practice at Highland Park High School, so there's quite the buzz going on in our neighborhood.  We were invited to Gene Simmon's party last night, but opted to remain hunkered down at home and do what else, but cook up something wonderful.

Last night's dinner was another braised short rib recipe I couldn't wait to try.  These flavorful short ribs perfectly illustrate how braised meat cooked on the bone can turn out succulent and tender enough to cut with a fork.  The bones also enrich the braising liquid, which melds delectably with the cheese-laced creamy polenta.  The ribs would be equally as good over your favorite mashed potatoes if you're not a polenta fan.  A bold flavored red wine is ideal for the pot and table.

For leftover short ribs, you can easily turn them into a heavenly ragu.  Simply remove the bones, shred the meat, stir it back into the sauce and reheat until warm.  Toss with freshly cooked pappardelle.

3 TBSP olive oil
6 lbs. meaty, bone-in, individual short cut ribs
4 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 ribs celery, cut into 1/2" pieces
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3  cup all-purpose flour
2 cups hearty red wine
3 cups beef stock
3 TBSP tomato paste

1 - 1/2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, crushed up, with juice
1/2 cup fresh, Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 bunch fresh rosemary or thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves

For the Polenta:
1 cup whole milk
1 1/3 cup quick cooking polenta
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  In a Dutch oven, heat 2 TBSP of the oil over medium-high heat.  Season the ribs with 2 tsp salt and the pepper.  In batches, to avoid crowding, add the short ribs to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 5 - 6 minutes per batch.  Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 TBSP oil to the pot and heat.  Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir well.  Slowly stir in the wine, then the stock.  Stir in the tomato paste, plum tomatoes, rosemary or thyme, parsley, basil and bay leaves.  Return the short ribs to the pot.  The short ribs should be barely covered with liquid.  If not, add hot water as needed.  Bring the liquid to a boil.  Cover the pot, place in the oven and cook, moving the position of the ribs every 45 minutes or so to be sure that they are covered with liquid and are cooking evenly, until very tender, about 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours.  Transfer the ribs to a deep serving platter (don't worry if the meat separates from the bones), and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Let the cooking liquid stand for 5 minutes.  Skim off the fat from the surface and discard. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook, stirring until reduced by about one-fourth, about 10 minutes.  Discard the bunch of rosemary or thyme and bay leaves.  Return the short ribs to the pot.

Just before serving, make the polenta:

In a heavy saucepan, bring 3 cups water, the milk and the remaining 2 tsp salt to a boil over high heat.  Slowly whisk in the polenta and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook, whisking often, until the polenta is thick, about 2 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan.  Divide the polenta among warm serving bowls, top with ribs and sauce and serve at once.

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