It’s been a long week.
With Daylight Savings Time kicking in and in turn, kicking my ass, I’ve been feeling (and looking) a little like an extra fresh off the set of “The Walking Dead”. When we had an uber productive day on Sunday, I thought, “Take that Daylight Savings Time!” I mean, we got up, got the dogs taken care of, took Gary’s Mom and Dad to brunch for her birthday, hit the grocery store, came home, chilled out for a bit and shot 2 mini episodes of the web series. All on one less hour of sleep! Talk about feelin’ like rockstars…
Then came Monday and I was Daylight Savings Time’s bitch.
So I trudged through the week with the help of some Kona coffee and lots of under eye concealer.
Then today came. And with it, the best news I’d had all week. My good news came in the form of a phone call from the hubs telling me that the rennet and citric acid I’d bought online (also accomplished on Super Sunday) had arrived!
Now, you’re probably wondering, “what the hell is rennet and why is she so freakin’ excited about it?” Allow me to explain.
Rennet is basically a complex of different enzymes that allow milk to coagulate and separate into curds (the solids) and whey (the liquid). Rennet can be obtained from several different sources. Traditionally, it comes from animal sources (calves stomachs to be exact) but there are alternatives to this kind of rennet. Vegetable rennet, microbial rennet and fermentation-produced chymosin are all great substitutes, especially for vegetarians.
Ok, so enough with the science lesson. On to the fun stuff! You see, rennet is a major component in cheese making! If you’ve been following the blog and/or the web series you’ve probably seen (and maybe tried making) my recipe for ricotta cheese. Since ricotta is a very soft curd cheese, you don’t need as strong of a coagulant as a harder cheese, like cheddar, so white vinegar or lemon juice does the trick. But for my project, I needed something a little more stout. See, I was making fresh mozzarella!
Now, I’m not gonna get into too much detail, because we’re gonna do an episode to teach you how to do it yourself! I will say that is was fun, easy, quick and delicious! Very much like home made ricotta, once you try this, you’ll never go back to buying this cheese in the store.
Since cheese making was the event of the evening, I decided to whip up an entree that didn’t require a lot of baby sitting. When I found some beautiful short ribs on sale at the grocery store on the way home, I knew that Gary would appreciate a gourmet spin on one of his favorite combinations, meat and potatoes. The nice thing about short ribs is that once you’ve done your seasoning and searing, they are content to just sit and braise in a flavorful liquid for hours without supervision. The perfect thing to cook on a night when you’ve got bigger fish to fry. Like a nice gooey batch of mozzarella to stretch.
I love cooking short ribs in my Tagine. For those not in the know check out my love letter post to tagines here. Then go out and buy one! Seriously, this is one of my very favorite cooking vessels. Ever. The conical shape of the lid circulates steam and makes it almost impossible to end up with dry meat. Plus it cooks food quickly on low heat. How quickly? Well, I cooked a whole chicken (about 3-4 pounds) in about 40 minutes. On medium low heat. Crazy, huh? Really, you will love cooking with a tagine. If you buy one and get stuck for ideas, just email me and I’ll hook you up.
Anyway, back to the short ribs!
Badass Braised Short Ribs
The Badass says, “It’s amazing how a tough cut of meat gets all buttery and delicious when it’s cooked properly. Short ribs are a perfect example-really big in the flavor department but not so much in the tenderness departement. The trick to perfect short ribs is to give ‘em a nice sear on all sides, then cook ‘em low and slow in a flavorful braising liquid. I give mine the “one-two punch” by cooking them low and slow in a mixture of red wine and balsamic vinegar for extra tenderness and flavor. Pile these babies over sautéed kale and roasted garlic mashed potatoes for a gourmet take on “meat and potatoes”.
Here’s what you need:
3 lbs bone in short ribs (at room temperature)
Kosher salt and pepper (fresh cracked black if possible)
some extra virgin olive oil
3 strips of peppered bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 medium sprig of fresh oregano
1 medium sprig of fresh rosemary
1 cup red wine (I used a Cabernet)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup beef stock
6 canned plum tomatoes, diced
¼ cup of the juice that the tomatoes were packed in.
You’ll also need:
A Dutch oven, Tagine or heavy pot or saucepan with a tight fitting cover.
And here’s what you do:
Season the short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a bit of oil (about 3 tablespoons) in the bottom of your cooking vessel on high heat. Carefully add the short ribs and sear for one minute on each side. Remove the ribs and place on a plate.
Lower the heat to medium low and cook the diced bacon for about 3-4 minutes, or until the fat has rendered off and the bacon is crisp. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for 30 seconds-until the garlic just starts to get golden. Raise the heat to medium high. Return the short ribs to the mix and add the wine, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, tomato juice and stock and cook till mixture starts to simmer. Cover, lower the heat to low and cook for 3.5-4 hours, until beef is fork tender. Serve with the braising liquid either as is, or throw the liquid into a blender and puree till smooth.
Badass tip alert! These ribs are awesome served with sautéed kale and garlic smashed potatoes! For the garlic mash, cook 6-7 cubed red potatoes for 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and mash with 4 cloves of roasted garlic, 4 tablespoons of butter and ½ cup of half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Well, that’s all for tonight. Between the braising and the stretching and the damn Daylight Savings Time, my Badass is officially kicked.
Till next time…
Have fun…and Be Fearless!
(and get some sleep!)