Happy New Year!!! I hope you all had a fun and relaxing holiday weekend. I’m super excited to share the long list of recipes I have lined up for this year. But first thing’s first– what’s a New Year’s Eve without a delicious dinner? This year J and I opted to stay in and have a cozy meal, watch movies, and experiment with cocktails!
For our main course, I decided to give short ribs a try– because, let’s face it, I think I’ve always been impressed with any meal that involved short ribs. Braised for three hours in a thick veggie and red wine sauce, the meat transforms itself into tender beef heaven. Impressed is an understatement. I served the short ribs with roasted garlic mashed potatoes (one of the first dishes I ever cooked all by my teenage self!), but I’ll be honest with you, the flavor of these ribs outshines anything else on the plate. The best part? This is pretty darn easy to make. Yes, three hours in the oven is a long time, but it’s well worth the wait.
After such a heavy meal (and a cocktail or two… or three) and all our hefty holiday eating, I wanted to make something super light for dessert, so cranberry granita was the perfect thing. And also super easy to make (just takes a few hours with the freezing and scraping you need to do.) A perfect end to a great year, and I’m looking forward to all the new and exciting things 2012 has to offer!
Braised Short Ribs
(Courtesy of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef)
Makes 6-8 servings
6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 lb)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste (this is just under 3 6-oz cans)
2-3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves
Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
While the short ribs are browning, purée all the vegetables and garlic in a food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crud and let it reform. Scrape the crud again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half.
Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water or until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Makes 4-6 servings
6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 lb red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tbsp butter
3/4 to 1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Arrange garlic in one layer on a double thickness of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly. Roast garlic for 30-35 minutes, or until very soft. Unwrap the foil and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy saucepan, simmer potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes, or until very tender. Drain.
In a large pan combine potatoes, butter, and milk. Mash potatoes with a potato masher until smooth, adding more milk if necessary. Peel garlic cloves and mash into potatoes.
Place pan over medium heat, stirring, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
(Courtesy of Everyday Italian)
Makes 6 servings
2 cups cranberry juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 1-2 limes)
1/4 cup vodka
Fresh cranberries or lime wedges, for garnish
Whisk the cranberry juice and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Pour the cranberry mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cool completely.
Whisk in the lime juice and vodka. Freeze until the granita becomes slushy, about 2 hours. Using a fork, stir to blend.
Continue freezing the granita until frozen, stirring every hour to form crystals, at least 5 hours or overnight.
Divide the granita among 6 dessert glasses. Garnish with fresh cranberries or lime wedges, if desired, and serve.