Now that I have grown children with children of their own (and many of those newbies aren't little anymore), Christmas has long been a holiday with which I must decide where I am going and how many miles are involved.
At Thanksgiving at the White family in Newbury, Mass., my daughter-in-law's parents invited me to their house in Somers, Conn. for Christmas. I would also love to see daughter Molly's new house in San Francisco, but Darcy, from Phoenix, has begun a new tradition. She and her husband, Jeff, have amazed me with visits to Sedona, resort/spa days for pampering and a Southwestern evening with amazing cacti decked in lights.
Because I don't host the holidays at my home, I find a way to get people to come to my house for dinners prior to Hanukkah and Christmas. As I write this, I had seven for dinner and I made braised short ribs, baked potatoes, Brussels sprouts with bacon and a pineapple crisp.
As I said at the beginning of this column, I just don't learn that some of those dinners could easily take place during the doldrums of January, when no one is shopping, wrapping or making cookies. But this recipe, which takes a couple of hours to finish, is even better if you serve it for dinner the next day. And if there are leftovers, that is truly icing on the cake, or is it gravy?
It really does require a Foley food mill to get the gravy really thin. If you don't have one, you can puree the vegetables and the ribs' liquid and it will taste the same, but it won't be quite as pretty.
Braised Beef Short Ribs with Red Wine Gravy
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October, 2009
6 pounds 3-inch-thick meaty beef short ribs
¼ cup all-purpose flour
coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil, divided
3 cups chopped onions
3 cups ¾-inch cubes peeled turnips (about 1 pound)
2 cups chopped peeled carrots (about 8 ounces)
2 cups chopped celery
8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
¼ cup lightly packed fresh thyme sprigs
5 large fresh sage sprigs
5 fresh bay leaves
2 cups dry red wine
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large plastic bag, add flour, salt and pepper. Add ribs and toss until well covered and remove from bag. Heat¼ cup oil in a large wide pot over medium-high heat (if you have a Le Creuset, this is the one to use). Working in batches, cook ribs until brown all over, about 10 minutes per batch. Place ribs onto a platter and wipe out the pot. Add remaining ¼ cup oil, add onions and next four ingredients and cook until tender and slightly browned, stirring often about 12 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes and next three ingredients; stir to coat. Return ribs to pot, placing on sides to form a single layer. Add wine. Simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add broth; cover and bring to a simmer.
Transfer pot to oven and braise until ribs are tender, about 2 hours. Let stand, covered, at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carefully remove ribs to large bowl, keeping meet attached to bones if you can, although most bones may separate from meat. Remove herb springs. Pass all braising liquid and vegetables through a food mill into a large bowl; remove to pot. Put pot into refrigerator to cool, so you can remove the fat. Season gravy with salt and pepper to taste. Rewarm gravy, then return ribs to gravy, cover and simmer.
Do Ahead: Can (and should, if possible) be made a day ahead. If you do, refrigerate uncovered until cool, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over medium heat until heated through, stirring gently, for about 15 minutes.
Do you remember those little spicy cinnamon candies that turn your tongue red? I didn't think much about them until I went to Ocean State Job Lot. I visit the store at least once every week or so. That is where I get my 50-pound sacks of sunflower seed, $1 suet cakes and Bob's Red Mill baking products.
At one in Gales Ferry, I saw a big package of Red Hots. I am not a big candy person, but I remembered a Thanksgiving dinner at the Goodspeeds in New London at which one of the sides was bright red warmed apples cooked with Red Hots, sort of like candied apples that won't break your teeth. If you want the recipe, Google apples with cinnamon Red Hots or email me and I will send it to you. I will be making it for Christmas dinner.
Ferrara Pan Red Hots
At all Ocean State Job Lots
LEE WHITE HAS BEEN WRITING ABOUT RESTAURANTS AND COOKING SINCE THE LATE 1970S. EMAIL HER AT LEEAWHITE@AOL.COM.