Thursday, November 24, 2011

Braised Short Ribs

Curt and I go to a local farm to buy fresh grass fed beef.  We don't have enough room in the freezer to buy a whole quarter of a cow, so we end up buying a share of a cow.  Basically, we get 2 grocery bags full of random cuts of meat.  In the last one, we got some short ribs!  To me, short ribs are perfect for cold weather!  Most recipes call for the same sort of ingredients, so here's a different rendition!

Braised Short Ribs with hidden veggies

* 4 lbs of short ribs
* 1 cup red wine
* 1 whole onion
* 1 small can of tomato paste
* 1 cup of carrots
* 1 cup of mushrooms
* 2 stalks of celery
* 2 cups of beef broth
* 5 cloves of garlic

First, I seasoned all sides of the short ribs with salt and pepper.  I heated up some bacon grease in a heavy bottomed pot and browned all sides of the short ribs.  I'm not totally sure of the science behind why you want to brown the meat before cooking it for a long time, but I know all of the professionals do it, so I did it too!

While the meat was browing, I started working on the veggies.  I had to shred the carrots and celery in the food processor.  Make sure the lid is on tight though!  I guess I didn't have mine closed all the way and carrots flew all over the place!  Kylie was just wishing it had rained short ribs, rather than carrots. haha

Here's a picture of the shredded carrots and celery.  I figured that the smaller they were shredded, the faster they would cook and really break down.  I thinly sliced the onion and garlic, but I did that by hand.

Once the short ribs were browned on all sides, I removed them from the pot and set them aside.  Then, I added in a little bit extra bacon grease.  Then, I added in the onions and garlic to let then start cooking.

Next, I added in the carrots and let everything start to cook through.

Next went in the tomato paste.  I just let everything get all combined while still on medium heat.

Next went in the red wine.  I kinda eyeballed it, but I think I used about 1 cup.

I stirred everything together until it looked somewhat like a veggie soup.  Then, I put the browned short ribs back into the pot.   I put the lid on and baked it in the oven at 400 for 1 hour.  Then, I lowered the temperature to 250 and let it bake for another 3 hours.  It probably would have worked in a slow cooker too, but I just felt like using my pretty new cast iron pot.  :)    Also, when cooking short ribs, I think I heard that they are better when they are cooked for a long time. 

When I took it out of the oven, I again removed the short ribs and set then aside.  I added in the mushrooms.  I didn't add them in the beginning because, well, I forgot they were in my fridge.  Then, I realized that I had them, so I chopped them up and threw them in the pot.  The heat from the soupy mixture cooked them through pretty quickly.

I did put the pot on medium heat to thicken up the sauce a bit.  Like I've said before, Curt wasn't a huge fan of veggies, so I wanted to puree everything so he couldn't pick the mushrooms and stuff out.  So out came my immersion blender.

I just blended everything for a few minutes so that it was just a nice yummy, super flavorful sauce.  I left it on the stove on medium to thicken up a bit while I shredded the short ribs.  They had cooled down enough for me to handle them a bit.  They had cooked for so long that the meat really just pulled apart easily.  I removed the bones and shredded the meat into fork sized pieces. 

Then, I added the shredded meat back to the sauce to warm up.  Then, it was ready to serve!

I  served mine over some mashed cauliflower.  It was a perfect little comfort food meal for me.  The dish had a lot of flavor, but few veggie chunks, which I'm sure that Curt loved. 

I'm definitely going to make this dish again! Curt liked it a lot too. I sent it with him for lunch, so I didn't really see much first hand reaction, but he ate it all, so I'm assuming he enjoyed it :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fantastically Foolproof Fish

Soooo it's been FOREVER since I've made a posting.  Things have been crazy around here with school lesson plans to write, my own grad school research projects to complete, and housing renovations in the works.  Sadly, that meant that my poor little blog has been left on the back burner.... Hopefully, I'll be able to keep up with postings so I can share all of the yummy recipes I've been trying out!

Sometimes you want a simple and yummy meal.  I was watching the food channel and they were making fish en papillote.  This seemed pretty easy and I needed a fast dinner for me and the hubby.  This is a really simple, healthy, and tasty dish that you should definitely try!

Fish en Papillote


* 1 zucchini
* 1/2 red bell pepper
* 1/4 red onion
* 2 cloves minced garlic
* 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
* 2 sole fillets
* 2 tbs grass fed butter
* 2 lemon slices
* 1 tbs white wine
* 1 tsp thyme (fresh is best)

The first thing I did was to julienne all of the vegetables.  I don't know that this is a necessary step, but I think that all of the vegetables cook better and more evenly when they are the same size. 

I will say that when I did this, I had put all of the vegetables in when they were all raw.  When it was finished, the onions were still pretty raw since they take a bit longer to cook through.  There was just a lot of bite to the onion in the dish.  I recommend slightly sauteeing the onions first or else cut them REALLY thin. 

I threw all of the veggies into a bowl and tossed them with the thyme, then added a bit of salt and pepper.

I cut 2 pieces of aluminum foil to a size that would be enough to fold some of the foil over the fish.  I put 1 piece of fish on each piece of foil.

Then, I covered each fillet of fish completely with the veggies.  I like having a lot of veggies with my meal, so, as you can see, the veggies totally cover the fish.  I put a lemon slice and a little bit more of the thyme on the very top.  

Then, I added in a little dollop of butter and 1/2 tbs of the white wine to each packet, just to give it a little extra flavor.

After everything was assembled, I rolled the foil down and sealed it so that all of the steam from the wine, fish, and lemon juice would get trapped and give some extra flavor to the fish.  Don't these look like giant Chipotle burritos? haha

I had the oven preheated to 375, and threw the fish packets in for only about 12 minutes.  The fish is very thin, so it doesn't take long to cook through at all.  One nice thing is that you don't have to worry about overcooking the fish.  Obviously, you don't want to keep it in the oven for too long, but since its basically steaming, it's hard to really mess up!  Thus my title Foolproof Fish!

I let the fish packets sit for a few minutes just to cool down a bit.  If you open the packets right after you take them out of the oven, you could end up with a pretty bad steam burn!

So here's the fish in a dish for you to eat when you wish ( sorry, I teach elementary school and every once in a while, the Dr. Seuss has to come out!)  Anyway, the fish was really, really good! It was so incredibly simple (you can even buy frozen julienned veggies to help make your job even easier!).  It had a nice flavor, it was very good! 

Like I mentioned above, the only thing that I wasn't a huge fan of was the fact that the veggies and fish were all cooked, but the onions were still a little bit raw, giving the whole thing a bite.  I love onions, but I think that when you have such a tender fish, the flavors all have to be pretty light. 

Overall, I'm totally making this dish again.  It was easy, cheap (sole isn't expensive at all), and it was fast!