I love cooking for my friends, don’t you? It’s a chance to be creative. To be well-fed. To welcome people into your home. And if it all goes to hell in a hand basket, you can order pizza.
A few weeks ago was one of those opportunities, and I had a blast cooking a beautiful French meal. No pizza required.
Okay let me clear one thing up in advance – the French consider themselves to be gourmands and dinner can go on for hours, but that’s not the sort of meal you eat on a daily basis. The typical, every-day meal is simple – a roasted meat or fish, some fresh, seasonal vegetables, and maybe some fresh fruit or berries for dessert.
But the special meal, Oooo la la!
I make such a meal on rare occasions, partly out of time constraints and partly out of just good sense – no one can eat like that on a regular basis.
I had a hankering for wine braised spare ribs. I order them pretty much every time they’re on a menu, but I’ve never actually made spare ribs. Undaunted, I carried on.
I sort of compiled this recipe from things that sounded right in about a half-dozen recipes I read. (Okay, maybe a dozen. Or two.)
The great thing about this recipe is, you do all the “heavy lifting” the day before. And if you know me, you know I love getting things done ahead of time. That gave me plenty of time “the day of” for making fresh baguette and escargot for the appetizer. (You can check out my escargot recipe here.)
I served the drunken little wine braised spare ribs atop parmesan polenta, with some roasted Brussels sprouts on the side.
Dinner was followed by salad and cheese, bien sûr, then dessert – my favorite coconut pie, but with a gluten-free, almond meal crust for my gluten-intolerant friend.
Hold on, I said I made baguette, didn’t I?
Well, if you remember, I recently posted a blog on the difference between bread made from American flour vs. French flour, boldly asserting that for many people who are “gluten intolerant”, the problem could be the wheat grown in America. And my fearless, full-on-celiac-diagnosed friend, was up for the challenge. So yes, I made French bread the French way with French flour.
She was in heaven. It was the first bread she’d had in years. And yes, the next day she was fine. So, voila! (Or as Cliff Clavin from Cheers would say, “Parsed in the Latin declension, my point is still moot.”)
Here’s the recipe for Wine Braised Short Ribs. I’ll be making a video on bread soon – I’m still perfecting my technique.
Wine Braised Short Ribs Serves 4-6
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: About 3 hours to roast, 30 minutes to finish
- 3 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs (about 2-3 per person)
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1-2 T olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 2 cups full-bodied red wine (such as Cabernet)
- 3-4 T balsamic vinegar
- 3 cups beef broth
- Several sprigs of rosemary
Preheat oven to 325F
Lovingly pat the little short ribs dry, and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
In a Dutch oven or heavy lidded pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown each side of the short ribs, cooking them in batches, and remove to a platter.
Reduce heat to medium low, and add the chopped vegetables and bay leaves. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender – about 5 minutes.
Add the red wine and simmer about 10 minutes, until the volume has reduced by roughly half.
Add the balsamic vinegar and beef broth, and return to a simmer.
Place the ribs back in the pan (they should be just about immersed in the liquid), along with several sprigs of rosemary. Cover with a lid, and place in the oven.
Roast for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Meat should be easily separating from the bone but not falling completely apart. Cool on the stove top (you don’t want to put a super-hot thingy in the fridge), then refrigerate several hours or (best) overnight.
About an hour before you’re ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and remove the fat, which will have accumulated on top.
Transfer the ribs to a shallow (about 2”) baking dish and roast uncovered for about 30 minutes at 400F.
Heat the sauce remaining in the pan on the stove top. You can strain the vegetable bits, or leave them in for a more rustic sauce.
Serve the ribs atop potatoes, noodles or polenta with sauce spooned on top.
I hope you give this a try! Or just show up at my place. But give me a heads-up a day in advance.