Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Eve Menu Dinner and Dessert

I'm so excited that Cook's Illustrated finally published one of my favorite tester recipes of the year since at last I can share it with you. This Braised Boneless Short Ribs recipe makes for a wonderfully rich, hearty meal with a very economical cut of meat. Cheap, tasty and impressive. I started about two hours before guests arrived so the dutch oven would be bubling fragrantly in the oven during our long New Year' Eve cocktail hour. Note that the recipe I tested so many months back did not include carrots, which they've since added. I say, take 'em or leave 'em.

We paired these with a bottle of Mount Veeder Winery 2004 Reserve (a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Petite Verdot). It was wonderfully velvety and round and stood up very well to the richness of the ribs.

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Guinness and Prunes

Cook's Illustrated Jan 2009
Serves 6

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 1/2 lbs boneless beef short ribs , trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions (2 large onions)
1 tablespoon tomato paste

6 medium garlic cloves , peeled

1 cup Guinness stout

1 cup beef broth

4 large carrots
, peeled and cut crosswise in 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup pitted prunes, cut in half
4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon gelatin powder

Place oven rack in upper-middle position and preheat to 300°F Pat beef dry with paper towels. Stir together salt and pepper and sprinkle over beef. Heat 1 tbsp oil in Dutch oven until smoking. Add half of beef and cook without moving, 4-6 minutes, until well browned. Turn beef over and cook second side until well browned, another 4-6 minutes. If fat begins to smoke, reduce heat. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining oil and beef.

Reduce heat to medium, add onion, and cook, stirring often, until softened and barely browned, 12-15 minutes. (If onions darken too quickly, add 1-2 tbsp water to pan.).

Add tomato paste and stir constantly until it browns on sides and bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook unitl fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Turn heat up to medium-high, add Guinness, and simmer, scraping up fond from sides and bottom. Add beef broth, carrots, prunes, thyme, and bay leaf. Add beef and any juices in the bowl. Cover and bring to a simmer. Transfer to oven and cook 2 to 2½ hours, turning meat twice with tongs during cooking. When done, a fork will slip easily in and out of meat.

Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer meat and carrots to serving platter; tent with foil. Strain cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a fat separator. Press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard solids. Allow to settle, then strain off fat. Return liquid to Dutch oven and reduce to 1 cup over medium heat, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bloomed gelatin; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over meat and serve.

Chocolate Truffle Tart
from Gourmet Feb 2007

The only addition I make to this very rich tart is fresh whipped cream. It cuts the richness of the filling nicely. For a holiday note, a little peppermint schnapps added to the cream is great too. Note that the tart requires 6 hours to cool and chill.

For crust
28 chocolate wafers such as Nabisco Famous, finely ground in a food processor (1 1/2 cups)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled completely

For filling
1/2 lb fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), coarsely chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Special equipment: an 8-inch (20-cm) round springform pan

Make crust:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap a sheet of foil over bottom of springform pan (in case of leaks). Lightly butter side of pan.

Stir together ground wafers and butter in a bowl until combined, then pat mixture evenly onto bottom of pan and 1 1/2 inches up side. Bake until crust is slightly puffed, about 10 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack, about 15 minutes. Leave oven on.

Make filling while crust cools:
Melt chocolate and butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth, then remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

Whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined well.

Assemble and bake tart:
Pour filling into cooled crust and rap pan once on counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake until filling 1 inch from edge is set and slightly puffed but center trembles slightly when pan is gently shaken, 20 to 25 minutes. (Center will continue to set as it cools.)

Cool tart completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. Chill, uncovered, until center is firm, about 4 hours. Remove side of pan.

Cooks' notes:
• Tart can be chilled up to 3 days. Cover loosely after tart is completely chilled (covering before may cause condensation).
• Crust, without filling, can be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.
I barely had time to take pictures of the tart slices as they were being gobbled!
We paired this with
2005 Jessup Napa Valley Zinfandel Port. A wine that we discovered on our Napa trip (Jessup's Tasting Room is in Yountville), it is not to viscous and stood up to the tart's richness perfectly. It is also, apparently, wildly popular as Jessup has already sold out of it! I'll be looking forward to their release of the '06 Zin Port.


k8nyc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
k8nyc said...

I love the pictures along the way! It's so nice to see how something's supposed to look as you're making it.

Leslie said...

Oh good. There would have been more short ribs pics if I weren't worried about hostessing!