It’s family dinner time! Here in single San Francisco, family dinner may be little different. I invite six of my closest 30-something friends to my apartment on Sunday night, knowing they (ok, we) will be at least 30 minutes late, half are gluten free, and we’ll all spend so much time talking about the upcoming Game of Thrones episode and sipping margaritas that we’ll (a) forget the food on the stove and (b) eat at least an hour later than promised. Whether that describes your family dinner or not, the universal theme of family dinners is that we miss time with those around us if we’re slaving away at a stove the whole time. So this dinner is centered around pre-prepared mashed potatoes, a big pot of meat that just sits there until you’re ready, and a lovely friend who delivers a side salad.
Tonight’s dinner consists of:
Pre-Made Healthy-ish Mashed Potatoes
Click on the link above for several variations of Mashed Potatoes. I find the Rosemary Pureed Potatoes pair perfectly with the short ribs. And before you begin, check out my 411 on Perfect Mashed Potatoes for my 6 rules for not messing up potatoes ever again.
Sarah’s Kale Salad
Special thanks to Sarah for bringing over her adorable pup, Kray, and this unique, healthy, and incredibly tasty Kale salad. Click on the link above for her recipe, which I basically stole by watching her out of the corner of my eye (I’m a sneaky girl).
Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs
Braised short ribs are the perfect solution to a family dinner as they can be made in a huge pot and left for hours unattended. There is almost no such thing as over cooking (in fact, the longer they cook the better) and don’t required many finishing touches so you can enjoy all of the margaritas and conversations you want without worrying about them.
5-6 lbs short ribs, bone-in
Salt & Pepper
3 tbs grapeseed oil
1 tbs butter
1/2 white onion, diced coarsly
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
4 celery stalks, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 bottle Zinfandel or Cabernet
1 bay leaf
1 rosemary sprig
1 tsp herbs de provence
1 – 2 cups beef broth
Salt & Pepper
Before you start, I need you to remember a few things before you start. Memorize, visualize, and commit these to heart. All of these things will help you perfect your short ribs!
1) ROOM temperature meat: helps cook everything evenly!
2) BIG (7 1/4 quart) Le Creuset enameled French Oven: meat must lie down in one layer on the bottom of the pan when braising, get hot enough for searing, and be oven proof. This tool is 100% worth your investment
3) HOT oiled pan for proper searing
4) DON’T crowd your pan when searing
Got it? Pretty easy. But absolutely necessary for preparation! Ok, now we’re ready to start.
Using ROOM temperature meat, trim off all fat and cut ribs into individual pieces between each bone. Salt & pepper generously. Don’t they look pretty?
In a BIG (remember the 7 1/4 pot?) oven-proof pot, heat grapeseed oil and butter on slightly higher than medium high heat. Your pan should be HOT, smoking, and the butter should be turning brown. When you add the meat, it should sizzle and smoke. Like this!
Sear meat on each side, about 4-5 minutes each and browned on each side. DON’T crowd your pan when you do this. Leave meat enough room between pieces to let air flow. You will likely need to do this in 2-3 batches. Remove from pan and leave on a large plate.
Reduce heat slightly and add onions. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add carrots and saute 4 additional minutes. Add celery and saute 4 additional minutes. Add a few splashes of the red wine, let it boil slightly, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to mix in all of those little flavor bombs stuck to the pan. Then, add remaining wine. Add back the short ribs and all juices that have collected on the plate IN ONE LAYER. If you don’t have enough room, bring out another pot as crowding the meat will not allow all the happy juices and veggies to soak into the meat. Add all herbs and beef broth until meat is just slightly covered.
Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours until meat is extremely tender and easily falls off the bone.
Remove from oven and skim off layer of fat. Add S&P to taste and remove bay leaf and rosemary sprig. These are best served over the mashed potatoes from above.
Two alternate endings you can use (other than just serving as above) are:
1) Gently puree the veggie/wine/beef broth with an immersion blender for a thicker “gravy”
2) Leave overnight in the fridge and serve next day. Some find that the flavors meld and more fat rises to the top (scrape that crud off!) overnight. Me? I can’t wait. I eat ’em right away. And look at all the happy faces. Even though we ate an hour late, it allowed us to enjoy our margaritas and catch up while the ribs just got better and better in the oven!