I swing both ways in the kitchen. I like to make what I call my five-minute meals like this grilled salmon which makes an ordinary day of the week seem celebratory because the food is so good. Then on other days, I like my food to linger for hours in a cast iron pot braising away, soaking up the nectar of red wine, the sultry flavors of onion, the earthiness from root vegetables and aromatic notes from herbs.
Five minute food fits my personality because I tend to move fast. But, then this other side of me finds a dutch oven kind of sexy. The kitchen smells good. The flavors build one by one as they concentrate and linger, and I can’t think of anything sexier at the moment than Thomas Keller’s short ribs, braised in wine, sitting on top of a mound of vegetables which are encased in a cheesecloth. Leave it to Mr. Keller to be so genteel with the meat to protect it from getting little pieces of carrot on it.
I found the recipe in Ad Hoc at Home, a book that has a permanent place in my kitchen. It’s not the Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. Oh, it’s the same guy, but this is the food that is a lot less fuss, and a bit more realistic for the home cook. I see a trend in the better restaurants serving this kind of food more and more. I recently dined at Watermark in Nashville during restaurant week and a very similar dish was on the menu as one of the main courses for the night. While their dish was served over mashed potatoes with kale, I decided to serve mine over spinach mashed potatoes. I tucked raw baby spinach leaves inside of hot mashed potatoes ensuring a perfect flavor and texture. You could do more to the potatoes by adding in some garlic or freshly grated parmesan. I kept it simple with just a touch of nutmeg, because the wine sauce had three hours to reduce and its flavored more than carried the dish.
The recipe calls for one 2 1/2 pound of boneless short rib, which is braised in one piece. I purchased boneless short ribs already cut, and you could go either way. This recipes yields a lot of sauce. Unfortunately, I didn’t show a picture of it.
Spinach Mashed Potatoes
Using my basic mashed potatoes recipe, I added in handful of spinach per two potatoes. You can judge for yourself how much you would like to add in. Trim the stems of baby spinach leaves and add in raw, after the potatoes are mashed and are still hot.
- Ingredients for Red Wine Reduction
- 1 bottle dry red wine, such as Cabernet Saugvignon
- I cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup sliced peeled carrots
- 1 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 2 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 6 flat leaf parsley sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 large garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
- Ingredients for Braise
- wine reduction
- 2½ pounds boneless chuck short rib
- sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
- 1 onion diced
- 1 cup carrots
- small handful of parsely
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 cups beef stock
- Red Wine Reduction
- Combine all ingredients for red wine reduction in a heavy pot or dutch oven.
- Bring to a high heat, reduce and simmer for 50 minutes. If you are using a cast iron dutch oven, reduce to very low heat.
- If using one large piece of meat, move any connective tissue where the bones were connected. Leave on fat and silver skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Add oil to a large frying pan, and brown meat on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
- Heat oven to 350.
- Add the second set of onions, carrots, garlic, thyme and parsley to the wine reduction.
- Cut a piece of cheesecloth 4 inches larger than the diameter of pan. Moisten and place over the wine reduction and tuck underneath the vegetables. Place the meat on top, and cover with oven proof lid (or piece of parchment paper).
- Reduce heat to 325 and cook for 2 hours. Meat should be fork tender.
- Remove heat, transfer to a warming dish.
- Strain wine reduction. If there is a lot more liquid than necessary, heat on top of the stove until reduced further.
- To serve reheat, meat in oven with some of the juice. Serve on top of mashed potatoes with the red wine sauce.