Meat & Potatoes

There is nothing quite like the smell of braise permeating the walls of your kitchen. The quiet bubbling of a stew in your oven. It is such a romantic and wonderful process.

A few weekends ago while there was still a chill in the air I decided to make a beautiful short rib and some olive oil mash. Uncomplicated, unkempt, just delicious.

The method is very simple.

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Braised Short ribs:

6# of shortribs

1# of Mirepoix, cut into large dice

4 cups of red wine

1 Qt of beef stock

4 Sprigs each of: Rosemary & Thyme

4 leaves each of: Sage & Bay Leaf

3 T of fat (I used rendered pork fat)

Salt & Pepper

Dry the ribs very well and season liberally & in the pot heat up fat. Heat the oven to 325˚.

I used rendered pork fat because I like total utilization & had some reserved. It worked great searing the meat as well. Sear the ribs on a high heat. Work in batches, dont crowd the pot or else the ribs wont sear properly.Once all of the meat is seared, reserve to side. Remove all but 2 T of fat from the pot.

Cook in the same pot all of the mirepoix. I like to start with the carrots and then add the onions; celery last. Make sure to season. Once caramelized, add herbs and the wine, I used a sturdy Cabernet. Add in the ribs. I let the wine cook out with the ribs, uncovered for a bit to let the  flavors of the wine develop with the meat. Add stock to fill the pot just to the level of the ribs, not compleatly covered.

Cover the pot and place into the oven for as long as you like. I let mine go 3 hours. I also removes the beef and vegetables and reduced the sauce to make a slightly thicker nappé; this is optional.

Pair with your red wine of choice. I find it went well with the Cabernet Sauvignon I ended up cooking with. The Dreaming Tree Cabernet held up well to it also.

Whipped Olive Oil Pommes Puree:

Very Simple, always delicious. I always roast my potatoes; it keeps all of the nutrients in the potatoes instead of them being leeched into the water.

10 Potatoes

Olive oil to taste

Salt & Pepper

Wash all potatoes & wrap in foil. I recommend wrapping parchment around them as well to prevent the aluminum from leeching into the food. Place onto a sheet pan.

Slow roast the potatoes in the oven while your stew cooks. Since the oven is at a low temp it may take some time, be patient and check intermittently to see if they are soft.

Once cooked take out of oven and quickly scoop out & rice all of the potato insides. By doing this while the potatoes are  hot prevents them from being gluey.

Reserve the skins for potato skins with cheddar! Total utilization has never tasted so good.

Whip olive oil into the potatoes and season. This part is all about mouth feel and taste. I love using a rich Extra Virgin olive oil for this part. I added chunks of sharp vermont cheddar and shredded some on top of the potatoes. Bake again in the oven until the top is browned and crispy. Oh, so good.

Ten things

My Food writing teacher asked us to write ten flavors/ingredients we cannot live without. Imagine, just ten things out of the millions and trillions that exist in our culinary world! What a challenge.

1. Olive Oil- Olive oil makes up the basis for most of our cooking in my kitchen. Regardless, I happen to adore the flavor. Every once in a while I buy a few different varieties of what I think is considered a good olive oil and taste it in some of my dishes. Good olive oil should be drizzled on top of a soup, or on a light tasting fish dish and should never be cooked. By doing so you really can taste the complexities and flavors of the oil.

2. Tomato- I find myself exploring the flavor of tomato more and more. Tomatoes are a big part of my families kitchen culture. A quick tomato sauce is instantly a meal with some pasta and parmigiana added. This is something I have been eating since I was a little girl and crave it. I love making tomato sauce. Adding the garlic to the olive oil and adding the canned tomatoes once the garlic aromatizes. Watching the bubbles as the tomato cooks. Crushing the whole ones and tasting it as it slowly cooks on the stove top. It brings my whole life back to me in an instant. Memories of my grandmother and cooking together for all of our holidays with my mom; all is remembered from a spoonful of sauce hot from the pan. As the smell fills the house it brings everyone to the kitchen it brings a warmth to our home and a smile on everyone’s face.

3. Peanut Butter- I have an obsession with peanut butter. The creamy texture and the flavor of the roasted and crushed peanuts is such a comfort for me. Usually I eat it with a bit of chocolate.

4. Dark Chocolate- My mom introduced me to dark chocolate. I make many desserts with this ingredient, as does she. When I was a child I would go into the cupboard and sneak pieces of bakers chocolate and I still do today. The bitterness of the chocolate with the creamy texture that melts in your mouth is why I love it. The little caffeine kick is such a pick me up from a long day.

5. Coffee- Most flavors that I cannot live without come with strong memories. As a child I loved the smell of coffee in the morning. I would jolt up from the smell, as if the scent alone was a caffeine kick. Every morning until I went to college I would wake up and sit with my mom as she drank her coffee and we would watch the news together. The house completely silent and peaceful, it was our twenty minutes of quiet together. Since, I have grown my love for it. There is a whole world of coffee that is much like wine. The beans all have their own terroir which create different flavors and complexities. The bitterness, full body, crema or oil slick at the top are all reasons why I love it. Right now I am very into Cinco de Junio, a coffee from Nicaragua. It is bold and full-bodied, but with low acidity so it can stand up to some soy milk and sugar without overpowering them.

6. Garlic- I don’t know how to describe garlic other than it is very strong, slightly bitter, and has a bite to it when raw. A flavor I use in majority of my cooking at home; I could not work without this aromatic.

7. Soy- I eat a lot of Asian cuisine and Soy is in almost all of that style of cooking. The salty, umami flavor instantly adds complexity to a dish that would be lackluster without it.

8. Salt- Sodium is necessary for life, but more importantly for flavor composition. We cannot eat most, if not all things without it. Salt draws out complexities that would otherwise go unnoticed and adds roundness to a dish.

9. Chili/ Spice- Ever since I was a little girl I have loved the flavor of hot sauce and chili peppers. This is really a love/hate situation because of the painful burning my heart feels once consumed, but, nevertheless, I can’t let it go. The burning sensation on my tongue and the complex flavor of the capsaicin is interesting and fun for me. It adds an unforgettable component to a dish, especially when my mouth won’t stop burning afterwords.

10. Vinegar/ Sour- The acidic, sour flavors of vinegar and citrus is an essential in my kitchen. Many fish dishes, especially, need a little acid and sour. It is very similar to adding salt, but adds a new roundness to the dish. For example a shallow poached salmon is instantly brightened with a little vinegar or lemon.

What flavors speak to you?

The Most Important

Breakfast; oh, how I love it. It truly is a great part of the day.

Sunday breakfast has always been a big deal in my family. Every Sunday we all gather into the kitchen, the kids pile ontop of my mom on the couch to watch cartoons and news while me and my dad whip something up. We always have french toast, chocolate chip and dried cranberry pancakes, waffles, locally made sausages and uncured bacon and, my favorite, eggs.

He makes the best eggs! Poached, over-easy, omelets with veggies from our garden. He knows his way around a fry pan. I definitely gained an appreciation of how delicious they can be from him. I just anticipate our breakfasts so much sometimes. Always think of great new recipes to try, new ingredients to use. We have a lot of fun with it.

Sometimes even my mom gets involved; though it’s usually just my dad who makes breakfast. Once in awhile she’ll wake up really early and make morning glory muffins or her famed pudding rolls. They are very similar to monkey bread, but bigger and with pudding baked into them!

I always whip out the espresso machine too and practice my latte art. As italians, we all love our espresso drinks. I have yet to get the technique down, but it’s a lot of fun and my mom appreciates a great latte drink regardless.

If you don’t do so now then give it a try! Next Sunday invite some friends over or make a breakfast for your family. I promise it will be a memorable meal.

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