When the wind is howling outside, chilling us to the core with every breath, walking into a warm home with a crackling fire and a hot meal waiting to be served is one of life’s greatest pleasures. During the winter months I crave traditional comfort foods. Hearty and filling, warming and soul soothing, nothing evokes the contentment and happiness we knew in childhood as much as a big meal and laughter around the dinner table.
My mother was not a gourmet cook but she fed our family with wonderful, filling, cost effective meals. She had a limited budget to feed four growing children with appetites that never seemed able to be fully satisfied. I still do not know how she managed to feed all six of us on a single chicken, but she did and we loved it. The food may not have been fine restaurant dining, but the camaraderie, stories, and never-ending jokes that were shared every night at our dinner table made our meals some of my favorite childhood memories.
One way we could feed everyone a healthy and filling meal was to use cheaper cuts of meat and cook them for hours over low heat. Braising helps break down the tough fibers and melts the collagen in meats creating succulent soups, stews, and casseroles. Today’s recipe, Braised Short Ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes is the perfect way to practice this technique. You do not need to spend a lot of money if you have the time to slow cook your way to the most succulent meals you’ve ever made!
Beef short ribs, when cooked gently for a long time in a sauce made with red wine, beef stock, herbs and vegetables, is one of the most classic comfort food dishes and one I crave all year long. These ribs only take a few hours to assemble and cook, most of it unattended so you have plenty of time to do other things. And like a lot of slow cooked recipes, they taste better the next day. So plan ahead, make them a day or two in advance and have a really easy reheated meal for busy days.
I was the youngest of four children and grew up in awe of my older brothers. They were all bigger than life in my eyes. Our father required us to have dinner together every single night of the week – no exceptions. When we were all young that was simple, but as the boys grew up it became more challenging. My father refused to bend on this rule and I am eternally grateful for that. This was the one time when we all gathered at the same time, sharing what we had learned in school that day, laughing together, and strengthening the unity of our family.
As the boys grew up and went away to college, our table became quieter and I longed for the holidays when all my brothers were home, with the jokes shared, tricks played on each other, and bellyaching laughter. My mother and I would cook for hours, making huge feasts in anticipation of long evenings of family togetherness. It was not unusual for us to spend four or more hours at the table, long after the meal was done, dessert and coffee enjoyed. Maybe we all knew it wasn’t going to last and we wanted to treasure every moment we had together.
These memories are a little bittersweet now that my father, mother and one of my brothers have all passed away, but they also fill my heart with hope for the future, that by sharing my stories and recipes, future generations of families across the nation and globe will take up where my family left off, sharing wonderful meals around the dinner table.
That my friends, is my Christmas Wish this year. I hope all of you have the most wonderful holiday season, full of joyous moments, plenty of laughter and fun, and time with the special people in your lives. Thank you for being part of The Heritage Cook Family!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Instead of using a plate for the browned ribs when you remove them from the pot and hold them before adding them back, try using the lid of your Dutch oven. It will hold all the ribs (stacked) and once you’ve put the ribs into the pot, you have one less dish to wash!
One of the tricks to really great mashed potatoes is to warming the milk or cream so the potatoes do not get chilled by adding cold liquid. And by adding the garlic to the milk, you infuse the flavor without overpowering the potatoes or getting bites of raw garlic. Finely mincing the garlic is perfect for infusing the milk.
Make sure that the tomato sauce, ketchup and tomato paste you are using are gluten-free. Read the labels carefully and check with the manufacturers if you have any questions.
- 2 tbsp organic olive oil
- 4 lb bone-in beef short ribs, patted dry with paper towels
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 medium onions, trimmed, peeled and chopped
- 3 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
- 4 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and chopped the same size as the celery
- 2 red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 cups dry red wine, such as merlot or pinot noir (a lighter red is better), or additional beef stock
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups low-salt beef stock
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)
- Finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnishing
- Arrange both oven racks in the lower third and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brown the Ribs: Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it is shimmering, add about half the ribs leaving enough room between them so they will brown. Cook, turning each piece as it browns until all of them are browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining ribs. (See note above)
- Make the Sauce: When the meat is all browned, add the onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers to the same pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano pastes, stirring them into the vegetables. Add the wine to the pan, bring to a simmer and scrape the bottom of the pan, releasing all the browned bits and their flavor. Stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir until completely incorporated. Stir in the beef stock and add the ribs to the pan along with any accumulated juices on the plate. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven.
- Cook the Ribs: Cook for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bones. Remove from the oven and let rest, with the lid on, for 20 minutes. Skim and discard surface fat. Taste sauce and adjust the seasonings if needed. Remove the bones and discard.
- Make the Garlic Mashed Potatoes while the ribs are finishing cooking.
- To Serve: Scoop Garlic Mashed Potatoes into bowls and top with some of the meat and sauce. Sprinkle a little of the Lightly Dried Parsley over the top of each plate and serve immediately.
- To Make Ahead: Cook as directed above. Transfer the meat, sauce and vegetables to a container, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. The next day, scrape all the fat off the surface and discard. Reheat meat and sauce over low heat while you make the Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- 7 to 8 (about 2 lb) medium Russet potatoes
- 1 tbsp kosher or sea salt
- 1-1/4 cups milk or almond milk for dairy-free, plus more if needed
- 1/2 to 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Garlic paste (to taste)
- 2 tbsp butter, optional (leave out for dairy-free)
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Finely chopped fresh parsley
- Peel the potatoes, cut into medium cubes and place in a large pot. Cover with enough water to come about 1-inch above the potatoes. Add enough salt so that the water tastes salty, probably close to 1 tbsp. The amount will depend on the amount of water you need for the potatoes.
- Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in the salt, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, place the milk in a small saucepan. Whisk in the garlic and a pinch of salt. Warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- When the potatoes are ready, drain in a colander. Transfer potatoes to the bowl of your standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment beat the potatoes until smooth with no remaining lumps. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the butter and beat it in. With the mixer on low, very slowly pour the hot garlic milk into the potatoes (pour through a strainer if you don't want the pieces of garlic in the finished potatoes). When all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium-high and whip the potatoes until creamy. If needed, add a little more warm milk.
- Taste and add salt or pepper as desired. Stir the parsley in just before serving.
- If making ahead, cover the mixing bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Turn off the heat under the pan. The potatoes will stay warm for quite a while as you finish making the rest of dinner. Stir before serving and add a little more warm milk if the potatoes have stiffened up too much.
- Yield: about 6 servings
Create a New Tradition Today!
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