Short Rib Ragu Over Pappardelle

If you haven’t heard, humble cuts of meat are in. Once unpopular, these tough, fairly inexpensive cuts are now on the rise, making frequent appearances on restaurant menus and dinner tables everywhere.

Short ribs, cut from the rib and plate primals of the steer, are a favorite in my house. Braising breaks down the tissues and tenderizes the beef, resulting in rich, meaty flavor. In my book, braising and wine go hand-in-hand, so I decided to pair some short ribs with a robust bottle of Zinfandel. The outcome was insanely delicious. Shred the beef and serve over pasta for a meal guaranteed to impress.

Short Rib Ragu Over Pappardelle

Serves Four

What You’ll Need:

5 lbs bone-in short ribs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-Virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bottle (750 ml) red Zinfindel wine
3 cups low-sodium beef stock (approximate)
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
1 lb pappardelle (or other flat pasta)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pat the ribs dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat about two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ribs on all sides, in batches, if necessary. If the olive oil gets soaked up between batches, add some more before searing the next batch of ribs. Once browned, remove the ribs to a plate.

Add the onions to the pot and cook till tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Pour in some of the wine and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Pour in the remainder of the bottle of wine, then add the porcini mushrooms. Return the short ribs to the pot. Add enough beef stock to completely cover the ribs. Add the rosemary and thyme, then bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the ribs are tender and falling off the bone, about 2.5 to 3 hours.

Remove the ribs from the pot and set aside to cool. Using an immersion blender, blend the juices and vegetable until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce until thick, about 20 to 30 minutes.

When the short ribs are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred. Return the beef to the pot with the reduced sauce. At this point, the ragu can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for the following day. This will allow the flavors to fully develop. This is a great make-ahead dish!

When you’re ready to put the meal together, re-heat the ragu. Fill a large pot with water and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and combine with short rib ragu. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday ~ November 21st

It’s crunch time, folks! Only three days till Thanksgiving! Hopefully, those of you with frozen turkeys have already put yours in the fridge to defrost. Remember to allow one day of defrosting for every four pounds of turkey! My bird is on a sheet pan at the bottom shelf of my fridge, ready to brine on Tuesday. Yes, I go the brine route. Why? It results in juicier meat. After using Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” Roast Turkey recipe, I’ll never go back.

This will be a pretty simple week, menu plan-wise, since most of the focus will be on Thanksgiving. Tuesday will be spent doing some prep work, chopping veggies, making pie crust, that type of thing. On Wednesday, I’ll be prepping and cooking my side dishes, allowing Thursday morning free to concentrate on the turkey and gravy.

Here’s this week’s menu:

Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: New York Strip Steaks, Scalloped Potatoes, Buttered Peas
Wednesday: Pizza
Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Leftovers

What’s on your menu this week?

My Latest Toy: OXO Adjustable Potato Ricer

Say hello to my latest kitchen gadget:

After lots of thought, I finally decided to buy a potato ricer. What’s it used for? Potato ricers help you achieve the fluffiest, lump-free mashed potatoes you can imagine. You can also use it to rice potatoes to make gnocchi, which I hope to learn to do one day. The ricer shown above, made my OXO, is available exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. It has an adjustable disk that allows you to switch from fine to medium to coarse settings. With Thanksgiving coming up, I wanted to make sure my mashed potatoes were smooth, buttery and delicious. I’ll let you know how they turn out!

Only Two Weeks Until Thanksgiving!

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Hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is just two weeks away! This year, I started my holiday planning a lot later than intended. In fact, I haven’t even given any thought to what size turkey I’ll be roasting. Until last night, I didn’t even know whether or not we would have any guests joining us! The husband works on Thanksgiving Eve and into the following morning, so we planned on having dinner in our home. I expected my in-laws to join us that day, since we usually alternate the holiday between John’s family and mine. Last night, however, I found out they have other plans, so I’ll be making Thanksgiving dinner for me and my boys.

Since I’ll only be cooking for us three, the menu is small, but definitely not lacking! For Thanksgiving, I love to prepare a big meal and be left with plenty of leftovers. Transforming leftovers into a deliciously different dish is almost as fun as planning for the holiday itself. I know to some, that may sound utterly insane. Many people can’t wait to get the holidays over with and completely loathe spending time in the kitchen. I am definitely not one of those people! Although the madness can sometimes be overwhelming, I truly enjoy cooking for my family.

In my family, Thanksgiving dinner is eaten early, usually around one or two o’clock in the afternoon. This year’s menu will still include appetizers, just so my boys can have something to munch on while the turkey roasts. Here’s what I have planned for this Thanksgiving:

Hor D’Oeuvres:
Stuffed Mushrooms
Spinach Artichoke Dip (a request from the hubby!)

Main Course:
Roast Turkey with Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Sausage and Chestnut Stuffing
Green Bean and Mushroom Saute

Bread Basket:
Dinner Rolls

Pecan Pie with Whiskey Maple Cream Sauce

Have you started planning for Turkey Day? What’s on your menu?

Menu Plan Monday ~ November 7th

It’s that time of year — light jackets have been swapped for down parkas and puffy coats, local restaurants have added hearty soups and stews to their menus, store windows are decorated for the holidays…and cold viruses are going around like the plague. Logan spent nearly a week battling a persistent fever that appeared with a nasty case of Strep throat. A few days ago, my husband got sick, too. Although he isn’t as ill as Logan was, he’s still pretty miserable. I spent the weekend chewing Vitamin C tablets and praying I didn’t get sick, too :-/

Sunday’s steak dinner was swapped out for soup, since Johnny is still feeling pretty miserable. I must be feeling very soup-y this week, because I have two of them on the menu, a creamy butternut squash soup and a hearty sausage and kale. With this week’s temperatures rising to only the mid 50’s, tis the season for something warm in my tummy!

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Monday: Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Tuesday: Steak with Onions, White Rice, Pink Beans, Avocado Salad
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Potato and Onion Pierogies with Sausage, Side Salad
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: White Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup, Roman Bread
Sunday: Roasted Chicken with Ratatouille

What’s on your menu this week?