You know who I will never understand? Those advocates of “grown-up” fighting with your significant other. You know, indoor voices, certainly-don’t-get-angry-and-say-something-in-the-heat-of-the-moment people. I feel like those are the people who would walk in on their spouse cheating, sit on the end of the bed, and say, “let’s talk it out, hunny.”
Now of course, I don’t recommend being disrespectful or mean. It’s just that; I like to argue. A lot. And I like to be right even more. But ultimately, I love a worthy adversary. Someone to keep me on my toes and toss me back when I cross the line; because I will. Someone who knows me well enough that they can think one step ahead of me, and make me laugh when I’m still angry as hell. I need that fire. I just don’t understand how life is worth living without it. Sure, I could find a relationship with a very consistent, boring, daily routine full of social norms and forced niceties. But Jesus Christ what could be more depressing?
For any of you Social Psychology nerds out there in the interwebs, you’ll follow me here when I reference Sternberg’s Triangle of Love. I won’t bore you with all the categorization stuff here; but I always found the commitment-intimacy (or “companionate”) types so sad. (think – a couple after many years who still confide in each other and are committed to being monogamous but don’t have the spark any longer, if they had it at all). There are worse things, sure. I just want to assume in my dream world that out there exists the possibility to be head over heels, passionately in love with someone and never fall into the trap of taking it for granted.
This is all coming to mind because I happened to get into a fairly heated argument with someone last night. Most people would probably be upset or still fuming today, however I’m glad. I got some great insight into how he thinks and feels, but most of all, I feel the process confirms that you care enough about someone to get upset and need to be heard. That’s never a bad thing, in my opinion.
That said, let’s make some official “passion” food – (translation = date night, man-food :P) Home-dates are fast becoming my favorite kind of date. Tons of fun, especially if you have a fellow foodie on the premises. Plus, lots of room for dessert 😉
As you’ll discover, I’m a big advocate of taste, adjust, and alter to your own preferences. If you’re simply following a recipe word for word, you’re missing the most important element: you.
Now, the braised ribs are VERY forgiving and if you follow the main concepts they will be utterly delicious; I promise.
First, grab some short ribs. I happened to get boneless ones because they were on sale, but generally I would prefer bone-in. (For the most part, bones = flavor.) You’re going to salt and pepper both sides of the ribs liberally, while heating up a large dutch oven on the stovetop (medium-high). Drizzle some olive oil in your pan, and sear the meat. It is very important to a) be patient during this step. Let the ribs take on beautiful, deep dark brown color. That color is flavor baby. Make sure you do each side of each rib. And b) don’t overcrowd the pan. I did about 3-4 ribs at once, and removed/added more when they had finished doing their thing in the pan.
Ok. So your ribs are all done and removed from the pan (just set them aside on a plate or cutting board). Now here’s where you get to do whatever you want, for the most part. I added in an onion (cut in large chunks), a couple of carrots, and a few stalks of celery to start sweating a bit in the still-hot dutch oven. Don’t get fancy here with your knife skills; you’re going to be straining the whole mess anyway.
Once the onion/carrot/celery begins smelling fantastic and loses some of that raw-veg crunchiness, you’re going to deglaze the pan with red wine. Use whatever you have open; just dump the entire contents into the pan. Scrape up the brown bits that are now loose on the bottom to incorporate them into the sauce. Now, add the ribs back in. Add in a couple cloves of garlic (just smash them with the back of your knife, no need to chop), and whatever aromatics you adore. I personally love rosemary and thyme for this so that’s what I tossed in. Oh, and a bay leaf.
Now add the ribs back in, and if they aren’t covered in liquid then add in low-sodium or homemade beef stock to ensure they’re covered. That’s it! Pop them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours or until they are so moist and tender that you can cut them by looking at them.
Here’s what my ribs looked like when I peeked in at the 2.5 hour mark:
mmmm. Want some? 😉
Ok. So now remove the ribs and strain out any of the solids that we don’t want in our finished sauce. (I just put the ribs on a plate with tinfoil tightly covering to keep them warm). Just keep the now-strained liquid in the dutch oven on the stovetop until you’re ready to begin reducing it.
Now, here is where I made my mashed potatoes, but because I’m a complete space cadet I forgot to take pictures of that process. I included the recipe below, but really mashed potatoes are *so* individual. Basically, I boiled my potatoes in salted water until they yielded nicely under my fork. Then, I drained them and placed them back over the low heat. I had about a cup of cream gently heating in another sauce pan in the meantime (with a bay leaf and clove of garlic in it, infusing). I alternated between adding a splash of the infused cream and a hunk of butter while simultaneously smashing the potatoes. You know you’re making mashed potatoes correctly if they essentially are a vehicle to hold as much cream and butter as humanly possible. It’s also essential to taste/adjust throughout the entire process; careful about over or under salting here. Season to taste (and I like LOTS of fresh ground black pepper).
Now for the green beans. Trim the yucky ends off; they’ll look like this:
Why do I have a mysterious ray of light emanating from my pinky finger, you ask? I do not question things I will never understand.
Now you’re going to chop a shallot, and zest and orange. (I zested a little bit of lemon here, too).
Grab a hunk of butter. Be generous here.
Add in the yumminess.
………..where is my wine?
Whew. Narrowly avoided crisis right there.
Now, assemble! Reduce the sauce on the stove to the desired consistency. Plate it up!
Braised Short Ribs:
- short ribs (I had 10)
- olive oil
- carrots (I used two)
- onion (I used a regular white, but it really doesn’t matter. Use what you have on hand)
- celery (I used two stalks)
- 2 cloves garlic
- fresh thyme
- fresh rosemary
- 1 bayleaf
- red wine – whatever you have on hand
- low sodium beef stock
- take cleaned short ribs and liberally salt and pepper them (both sides)
- take a large dutch oven and heat over medium/high. Add olive oil, and brown the short ribs on all sides. Brown until very very dark
- when all the ribs are brown (and you’ve been removing them as you go) toss in an onion, a couple carrots, and a few stalks of celery. Don’t get fancy with your knife skills here because you’ll be straining in the end
- let those get slightly browned, then deglaze the pan with as much red wine as you have open/on hand. Put the ribs back in the pot, and add enough beef broth to fully submerge them under the liquid
- add some smashed garlic cloves, some thyme, rosemary or whatever other aromatics you love and wish to add
- bring up to a boil on the stovetop, and then place in a preheated oven with a tightly sealed lid for 2-3 hours, or until it yields under your fork
- when they’re done, remove them and strain out the solids from the broth. Reduce the broth over the stove until it has a lovely consistency, and then drizzle back over the ribs (which can be placed on your favourite carbohydrate!)
- 4 potatoes – I used red
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- Scrub potatoes
- Boil in salted water until they yield nicely under a fork
- While potatoes are boiling, heat the cream gently in a small saucepan with the garlic clove and bayleaf
- Drain potatoes and place back on low heat over the stovetop
- Using a hand-held smasher, begin breaking up the potatoes while adding bits of cream and butter. The amount of butter really depends on your own taste; keep gauging the texture and tasting as you go. When all the cream is incorporated and the texture is fabulous, salt and pepper to taste.
Green Beans with Orange Shallot Sauce
- green beans (the amount depends on how many people you’re feeding. Get as much as you need)
- 1 shallot
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- a few knobs of butter
- Trim the yucky ends from your green beans
- Quickly boil them for 3-4 minutes in rapidly boiling, salted water (you want them to still have a nice bite and be bright, vibrant green)
- Chop your shallot, zest your orange and a bit of the lemon (that is optional)
- Over medium-low heat, toss in a couple knobs of butter. Throw in your shallot and the zest
- Let that cook until the shallots are softer, adding more butter as needed (keeping in mind that it’s going to need to be a sauce consistency)
- Slice your orange in half and squeeze the juice directly into the pan
- Take the sauce off the heat, and toss/top the green beans!