I can’t quite decide if this Daylight Savings thing is working for me. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to leave work while the sky is still brightly lit. On the other hand, waking up at 5:30 in the morning has once again become quite difficult – and as I make my way to the subway in the morning, they sky is dark and gloomy. And it is still very cold. Which is probably why I am still a bit incredulous that this thing called spring is ever going to arrive.
It has been a stressful year for the markets so far, and thus for me at work. Though I am not an economist or a strategist, I have a very strong feeling that this sub-prime issue is not going away any time soon and everywhere you look in financial news-sources, the word “recession” turns up a few too many a time and the markets have been steadily declining on the heels of seemingly never-ending bad news. Coupled with it the rising cost of food, fuel and commodities while the consumers are watching their spending – makes for a glum story indeed.
Which is probably why a few weeks ago, I had the craving for precisely this kind of a comfort meal: warm, rich, flavorful, with a thick sauce. I’ve been waxing poetic about braised short ribs to KS and he would nod approvingly, but I could just see in his eyes that he wasn’t really following me. Not until he tasted it, did he understand why I have not stopped talking about it. We both had seconds and needless to say there were no leftovers. And because it rained that entire day, this dish was like manna from heaven. It warmed and comforted us. I have to mention here also, that this dish is super easy – all it requires is time. If you can slow-cook this in your Le Creuset or the equivalent for 3+ hours, you are guaranteed something truly amazing. It’s pretty much fail-proof. Another note is that I chose not to puree my vegetables as the original recipe suggests because I like my vegetables chunky. And instead of cooking potatoes separately from the short ribs, I cooked them in the same pot, letting them absorb the flavors of the stew.
And though I can’t get enough of these warm, rich stews, with this vacation coming up next Friday, I just can’t wait to leave behind my winter coat and winter eating and put on my bermuda shorts and have an umbrella drink! For one glorious week we’ll be basking in the Carribean sun, lazing around on the beach and catching up on reading.
Perhaps upon our return, spring will have officially kicked off and I’ll have more spring cooking on my mind. But for now, with another rainy day facing us, I’d rather have this warm, comforting meal, over a cold, crisp salad.
Adapted from Bon Appétit
5 whole black peppercorns
1 small bay leaf
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons (packed) fresh sage leaves
4 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, well trimmed
1/2 cup corn oil
4 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for potatoes
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle red wine – we used a Primitivo*
6 large white-skinned potatoes
*Syrah or Cabernet Franc can be substituted.
Grind first 5 ingredients in spice mill. Sprinkle beef with additional pepper and 3 1/2 teaspoons herb-salt mixture. Heat 1/2 cup corn oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Working in batches, add beef and brown well, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer beef to large bowl. Pour off oil from pot. Add 1 cup broth to drippings in pot and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour deglazed pan juices into small bowl.
Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery; sauté until beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and sauté 2 minutes. Add deglazed pan juices and bring to simmer. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pot. Add wine and remaining 3 cups broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low.
Season with pepper. Cover and cook until beef is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 2-3 hours. About 40 minutes prior to being done, place potatoes in the pot and mix well.
Tilt pot and spoon off fat from surface of sauce.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.
Makes 6 servings.