weekend dinner with family

my cousin was visiting from out of town this weekend, a rare occasion, so i had her over for dinner (much easier to have a leisurely dinner at home - otherwise we sometimes have to make a quick exit due to the kiddo). she has some dietary issues - no wheat, no dairy, and a few other incidentals - so i begand the day by making a gateau a l'ocean and baguettes, and decided on ribs for our main course. yum.

braised ribs with chard

i was intrigued by a few recipes - esp the 48-hour ribs in the washington post, but i didn't have 48 hours. i settled on a recipe from sunday suppers at lucques because it only needed me to get cracking one night ahead.

i made a few changes of course - i don't have quite as many giant pots and pans as a real chef, and so i used less broth and rearranged the cooking just a little bit. also, i replaced the dairy in the potatoes, and added some garlic (which i find goes a long way to make up for the savoury richness that is lost when you take out cream and butter).

and boy were they good! rich, moist, tasty. i am actually thinking about leftovers right now (even though i just had a slice of leftover cake).

ribs marinating

braised beef short ribs with swiss chard - adapted from sunday suppers at lucques

6 beef short ribs, about a pound each
1 tbs plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus 4 whole sprigs thyme
1 tbs black pepper
36 yellow pearl onions
1/2 cup olive oil
1 c diced onion
1/3 c diced carrot
1/3 c diced celery
2 bay leaves
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups ruby port
2 1/2 cups red wine
4 cups beef or veal stock
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bunches swiss chard, center ribs removed, torn in pieces
s & p

mashed potatoes
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 c unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk
1 c margarine

the night before, season the ribs with 1 tbs thyme and black pepper. coat well, all sides. cover and refrigerate. take them out an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature. after half an hour, season them on all sides with salt. preheat the oven to 425f. toss the pearl onions with 2 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, and grind on some pepper. spread on a baking sheet and roast 15 minutes, until tender. set aside and turn the oven down to 325f.

onions roasting

heat a braiser over high for 3 minutes. pour in 3 tbs olive oil, and let it get really hot. working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides. take your time with this to get them nicely browned, then remove from the pan and set aside. turn the heat down to medium, and add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. add balsamic, port, and red wine. turn heat up to high and reduce liquid by two-thirds.

browning the ribs

add stock and bring to a boil. return the ribs to the liquid, arranging them in a single layer. liquid should almost cover the ribs; i found it didn't really cover them but was about to overflow the braiser so that was that! tuck parsley around the meat. cover and braise in the oven for about 3 hours.

peeled onions

while that is happening, slip the pearl onions out of their skins, and prepare the potatoes. boil the potatoes in their skins with the garlic for 45 minutes, then when they are cool enough to handle, and slip them out of their skins. push through a ricer together with the garlic. when the meat is almost ready, heat up the almond milk in a small pot. warm up the riced potatoes and stir in the margarine. when it's melted through, stir in the almond milk. season well with salt, and keep warm.

potatoes after ricing

when the three hours are up, take the braiser out of the oven and let rest 10 minutes, and then transfer the ribs to a baking sheet.

this is when you start doing 2 things at once. one:

turn the oven up to 400°F. roast the ribs in the oven for 10 minutes, to brown. strain the broth into a small pot, skim the fat from the top, and reduce it over high heat till nicely thickened. season with a bit of s & p.


heat 3 tbs olive oil in a sauté pan, and toss in the peeled pearl onions. add the chard in batches till it's wilted. season with s & p.

to serve: arrange the chard & onions on a platter, and top with the ribs. pour over some of the sauce, serve the rest in a gravy boat alongside.

ribs in their juice

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