Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spare Me Your Idle Musings!

I imagine someone might tell me that someday about my blog.  Or much worse, my memoir.  That's okay, though.  They can go read themselves some flash fiction and get over it.

I have another one of those recipes that I just kind of stumbled on and figured I'd try but didn't document in precise detail photographically or anything.  It didn't seem like a blog-in-waiting.  But that's not really the way to live life, right?  Anticipating the next blog?  Shouldn't it all just come naturally? Well yeah, that's the hopeful idea, but if you're not on the lookout then you're going to have a hard time keeping the thing updated.  You have to be ready to savor and remember culinary adventures, and when something catches you by surprise, that's a lot of fun too.

I'd been craving beef, specifically short ribs.  There have been a couple of short rib short films on Food Network recently, including this guy that cooks them on a Himalayan salt grill.  Uh, YUM.  In most applications they require a long, smoldering braise that makes them especially wonderful for Crock-Pots.  You have to buy what looks like a lot for the amount of people you're serving (I had to buy 4 pounds worth for Matt and I), but each piece is a good percentage of bone and fat.  Once you separate the meat from that flavorful waste, you're left with beef that is tender yet still retains its texture.  You don't want to eat meat-flavored baby food, after all.  Tenderness has a tipping point. 

While I was perusing through the New Seasons flyer, I noticed that they were having a sale on short ribs.  Mmm, short ribs.  The craving commenced again.  Like I mentioned, I had to buy 4 pounds' worth at the butcher's recommendation (I did stipulate I wanted leftovers, so you could probably get away with 3 lbs).  There's this guy at the New Seasons Mountain Park meat department that makes ground beef into volcano shapes.  How much fun would that be?  MEAT VOLCANO!  You could have some yummy chipotle spice sauce oozing out of the top and set up a taco bar.


I pulled out my gigantic Recipe File and pulled out the slim collection of 'Beef' recipes.  My beef section is probably the least-clipped.  I'm not a huge red meat fan, so when I'm flipping through magazines they usually don't catch my eye.  I'm always ripping out things like Butter Chicken with Cilantro-Coconut Rice or Lamb in Cherry-Pinot Sauce.  That doesn't mean I ever end up MAKING them, but I guess I read Bon Appetit like I read a menu.  Nevertheless, I'd saved 2 different recipes for Short Ribs.  One was a Martha Stewart Everyday FOOD for Root Beer Short Ribs, the other several years old from Cooking Light--Curried Beef Short Ribs.  I've been running a ban on Cooking Light since they redesigned their magazine into a yuppie, yoga-pose-instruction treatise and I had some serious failures with a couple of their recipes.  Several savory dishes were completely lacking in flavor, and I made some chocolate cookies that tasted like cardboard.  Granted, when making cookies, you should generally just not try a "healthy" recipe.  Take the extra 30-calorie hit and don't skimp.  If you want a cookie, eat a normal cookie as a treat and move on with your life. 

But curry sounded way better than root beer, so I decided to go with that.

The night before when I was putting everything together, I got treated to two wonderful smells: the smell of searing meat, and the smell of coconut milk and curry.  Sweet and spicy with a hint of a fruity tropical paradise that's nowhere near Oregon in January. 

When I got home that night, the coconut and curry smell had really mellowed out.  I was a little bummed, since it smelled so good the night before, but they still tasted fantastic.  Just not as blatantly Asian as I'd expected.  The next time I'll probably follow the comments I see online for the recipe, which calls for using the whole 4 oz of curry paste and entire can of coconut milk.  Either way, absolutely serve them over rice, and add a little Thai Chili Sauce on top.  A good squeeze of lime like the recipe calls for gives it an extra pop of freshness after such a long simmer. 

Try to use the best quality short ribs that you can find.  Otherwise you'll have way too much fat and you might end up eating beef-flavored jelly on top of your rice.  Not cool.

Leftovers keep beautifully!  I ate them today at my desk before I remembered to take a picture I was so intoxicated by the smell again.  Damn it!!  Oh well, you'll just have to take my word that they come out a deep mahogany color and the extra bag-sifting step keeps the greasiness to a thankful minimum.  I got my fix, but with a treat this good, I'm not sure my short rib craving is gone.  Maybe the carne asada tacos we're having tonight will help.  

Curried Beef Short Ribs from Cooking Light, whom I may have to give a second look to
  • 2  teaspoons  canola oil
  • 2  pounds  beef short ribs, trimmed
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/3  cup  minced shallots
  • 3  tablespoons  minced garlic
  • 3  tablespoons  minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4  cup  water
  • 2  tablespoons  red curry paste
  • 1/4  cup  light coconut milk
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  fish sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  grated lime rind
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lime juice
  • 4  cups  hot cooked basmati rice


1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ribs with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add half of ribs to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place ribs in an electric slow cooker. Repeat procedure with remaining ribs.
2. Add shallots, garlic, and ginger to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup water and curry paste; cook 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk, sugar, and fish sauce. Add coconut milk mixture to cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours.
3. Remove ribs from cooker; keep warm. Strain cooking liquid through a colander over a bowl; discard solids. Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour cooking liquid into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into a small bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Stir in remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, rind, and juice. Shred rib meat with 2 forks; discard bones. Serve sauce over ribs and rice.

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