Monday, August 27, 2012

My Take On Bittman's Ribs

It's not fancy or hip or probably acceptable to the ever growing food elite, but I love my crock pot -- especially since our oven has, well, expired. I love that with very little preparation I can have something for dinner bubbling on the counter (no need to clog up the stove top).  And, there are a myriad of cuts that benefit from hours of braising at a low temperature -- the crock pot is perfect for holding temperature steady without danger of burning or drying out. Tonight's long cooking specialty is boneless short ribs.
There are some cooks and chefs who's recipes I trust and some I steer away from. Ina Garten -- too much mayonnaise. Bobby Flay -- his flavors just aren't that interesting to me. I can't even think about looking at recipe form Paula Dean or (shudder) Sandra Lee. But, I never find fault with Mark Bittman.
Bittman is one of America's great cooks. He has been called America's best home cook and his consistently solid ideas and recipes are a great place to start looking when I'm ready to start cooking.
His short ribs simmer for hours in a sauce of chiles, red wine, and coffee -- flavors James loves. I knew this one would be a hit.
I started by browning the well seasoned meat in a hot pan with olive oil. I put the meat into the crock pot. With the pan on low I tossed in a chopped onion, 3 chopped cloves of garlic, a dried chile d'arbol and a pimiente d' espellette (not what Bittman uses but it's what I had and they are both flavorful pods). After about 15 minutes the onion was soft and ready to add in the liquid. I poured in 1 cup of strong coffee and 1 cup of red wine. With the heat on high I reduced the liquid by half and poured everything over the meat in the crock pot along with a pinch of cinnamon and about 2 TB of brown sugar. Eight hours on low and this fairly fuss-free dinner was ready to serve with buttery mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans -- direct from our garden.
"This is really good honey," James said between bites. "Hold onto this one."

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