Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quote of the week


I am more modest now, but I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, I with my brain and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.

― M.F.K. Fisher

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Braised short ribs (be a beginner, continued)

As some of you know, I'm taking a class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. I'm enjoying it tremendously; the instructor is skilled and welcoming, the other students are fun to learn with. In all honesty we've not done much that I'm not familiar with, however the class is helping me learn better general technique and reminding me of the joy of cooking to recipes. All of this is useful and working in a professional kitchen is a kick.

Last week we focused on wet cooking - stews and braises. Each class we're given a recipe packet and teams of students work on each recipe. I made a pork and squash stew, which was wonderful and redolent with cumin, but by far, my favorite dish was the braised beef short rib with dried cherries. It was so delicious that I cooked it this past weekend for friends.

The best word I can think of for this dish is unctuous. The sweetness of the cherries, the mouth-feel of the soft meat, the depth of the wine... all of it together was extraordinary. This is now my new go-to dish for special guests.

This recipe is adapted from the one provided by the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.

Preheat the oven to 325f.

Season about 5lbs of beef short ribs (for me this was six pieces) with salt and pepper, then dredge in 1/4c of flour, shaking off the excess. Sear them on all sides in 1/4c olive oil, heated in a large oven-proof casserole on the stove on medium-high heat. Remove the meat once it's seared on all sides and pout out the excess oil, the deglaze the pan over high heat with 1-1/2c red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Rhone). Make sure you get up all the little seared bits. Reduce the wine to 3/4c.

Whisk in a quart of chicken stock (I used homemade chicken/duck stock, yum). Once it's smooth, return the seared ribs to the pot along with any oozed liquid. Tuck a piece of parchment paper into the pot, so it's snug against the meat and liquid (this helps the meat cook in moist heat throughout), bring to a simmer, put the lid on and slide it into the oven. Cook for 90 minutes.

Read, watch a movie, play a game with your friends, take a nap. The house will soon smell wonderful.

Remove the lid and parchment paper, add 1-1/2teas. salt, 8 peeled garlic cloves and 8 peeled shallots, more or less. Cover with the paper and lid, cook for another hour.

Start salivating.

Remove the lid and paper, add 1-1/4c (I probably added more) dried sour cherries, set the lid at an angle, and simmer until the ribs are falling off the bone tender and the cherries are plumped.

Remove the ribs, cherries, shallots and garlic to a deep and wide serving dish. Cover to keep warm. The recipe says to strain the liquid, but I didn't. Let it sit for a little while, then carefully spoon off the floating fat. Simmer the de-fatted sauce for five minutes or so, then taste, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed, pour the sauce over the meat and veggies.

Serve.

Swoon.

text (c) 2012 Laura Packer
recipe (c) Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quote of the week


'If you are careful,' Garp wrote, 'if you use good ingredients, and you don't take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day; what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane.'

― John Irving, The World According to Garp

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quote of the week


No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.

― Laurie Colwin