Saturday, March 26, 2011

Winter's Bone

Well, I'm not sure Santa Barbara got the memo that Spring is here. It's more like Winter: Act II. The good news is that this recipe for short ribs is very fitting even though April is literally right around the corner. I made this dish for an Oscar party and also for my friend Meredith's birthday.

It's definitely a crowd pleaser: comfort food at it's best. It's one of those home-cooked meals that just makes you feel loved. So if that's what you're going for, I'd highly suggest you make this — and as soon as possible as I do hope the cold and rain will soon come to an end.

The rosemary-infused wine gravy provides the most wonderful flavor to this humble cut of meat. They're meaty and fatty, in the best way possible, and still on the bone for added depth of flavor. And the mash really is the perfect side, freckled with rosemary and slightly sweet from the addition of parsnips. It will make you rethink what mashed potatoes should be.

I will issue one warning: This recipe does call for an entire bottle of Zinfandel, so if you like to drink while cooking (like me), make sure have a second bottle handy.

Zinfandel-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Rosemary-Parsnip Mashed Potatoes
compliments of Bon Appetit

3 Tbsp room temperature butter, divided
4 lbs meaty beef short ribs
Coarse kosher salt
2 1/2 cups chopped red onions
2 cups 1/2-inch peeled parsnips
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 750-ml bottle Zinfandel
2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 Tbsp all purpose flour

1 stick unsalted butter
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb large parsnips, peeled, cut into 3/4-in cubes
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat over to 325 degrees. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in heavy large oven-proof pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ribs with coarse salt and pepper. Add to pot in single layer and saute until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Note: you have have to do this in two batches. Transfer ribs to a large bowl. Add 1 Tbsp butter to pot. Add onions and parsnips and saute until beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Mix in garlic and rosemary. Add wine and broth; bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits.
Return ribs and any accumulated juices to pot, arranging in a single layer if possible. Bring to a simmer; cover and place in oven. Braise until ribs are very tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Using tongs, transfer ribs to clean bowl. Spoon fat from pan juice. Boil juices until just beginning to thicken, about 10 minutes. Mix 1 Tbsp butter and flour in small bowl to smooth paste. Whisk into juices in pot; simmer until thickened enough to coat spoon, about 5 minutes longer. Don't skip this step. It creates the most luxurious dimension to the gravy. Season gravy with coarse salt and pepper. Return ribs to pot and spoon gravy over.
Note: This can be made 2 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over low heat before serving.

Cook potatoes and parsnips in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile bring milk, butter, and rosemary to simmer in a small saucepan. Drain potato mixture and return to pot. I personally like my potatoes very silky so try to use a ricer if I can. Stir briefly over medium heat to evaporate excess moisture. Add milk mixture and mash well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Note: You may find you need to add more liquid to the mash. Chicken stock is a wonderful substitute for milk, butter, mayo, sour cream, etc. But those options also work wonderfully and also create a rich and satisfying dish. The rosemary is subtle but key to create this wonderfully balanced yet elevated side. And you could certainly use all potato instead of the mix with parsnips, but you should at least try it. It's mashed potatoes but with a slight sweetness to them. Not like sweet potatoes but with a complexity that makes them seem special even if you can't quite put your finger on why.

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