THE ART OF ITALIAN DINING
I just landed back in Phoenix last night. The flight was late. Nothing to be surprised about when you fly Continental.
The last eight days in New York City were as inspiring as they have ever been. The food, better than I ever tasted. The charm and energy as lively as i have ever seen. I tried to remember how many times i visited the city in my life. Twelve times if i recall correctly, but each journey is something unique, something that is and will be engraved permanently in my mind. Something that to my eyes never looks alike.
Now that i am back in the Valley of the Sun for a couple of days, between catching up with mail, crafting menus and quotes for clients, and advancing the pile of dirty laundry I have to take care of, I found the time to gather all my good friends for an early Italian Thanksgiving dinner. This evening the menu will read homemade lasagna, pig roast over mascarpone polenta, braised fennel, roasted brussels sprouts and of course…short ribs.
I love braised short ribs for three reasons: one, they’re unstoppably, almost obscenely good; two, they’re impossible to screw up; and three, they require no hands-on time once the guests arrive. Entertaining, for me, is all about not having to start from zero once the guests arrive. Chopping and blanching and reducing – and sweating — while my friends stand in the kitchen, hungry, with one eye on the clock. It’s about having a glass of Barbera and diving into a dinner that is ready to go, but that also feels simultaneously casual and special. And when everything goes right, you can almost forget — for a few hours, at least that you have to be awake at 5:30 the next morning to make ravioli from scratch for 150 people.
By the way, if you’ve never heard of beef short ribs, the best cuts come from the lower (ventral) section, between the 6th and 10th rib, often called the short plate. The short plate is what gives them their name (not the fact that they are short). The meat itself is on top of the bone, about 1-2″ in height. Make sure to select a package with meaty hunks as lots of times they are packaged with more hidden fatty pieces inside.
Perfect for the holidays, i hope you will find this recipe as comforting as i do. In the cold months of the year, with a good glass of Chianti and paired with truffled mashed potatoes, short ribs are all your guests could ask for.
Happy Holiday Seasons friends!
‘BRASATO AL BAROLO’
BAROLO BRAISED SHORT RIBS OVER TRUFFLED MASHED POTATOES
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and cook them over high heat until deep brown all on sides, about 15 minutes total.
Remove the short ribs to a plate and set aside. Add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the pan and cook over high heat until browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the red wine, tomatoes and juices, chicken stock and herbs, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge the brown bits. Bring the mixture to a boil and return the short ribs to the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and literally falling off the bones.
To make the gremolata:
In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest and horseradish and toss loosely by hand.
Place one short rib in each bowl, top with a little of the pan juices and a handful of the gremolata, and serve immediately.
TRUFFLED MASHED POTATOES
*White truffle oil and black truffles are available at Italian markets, specialty foods stores and some supermarkets.
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes to pot. Stir over medium heat until excess moisture evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add half and half, butter, olive oil and truffle oil, parmesan cheese. Mash until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in chopped truffles, if desired. Transfer to bowl and serve.