Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta
I'm back, baby! Unfortunately I had to take a break from blogging for the past few weeks because of some family happenings. We lost my beloved grandfather a couple weeks ago; he was 84-years-old. As sad as it was to lose him, those events always have a weird bright side. He's at peace after a tough sickness, plus I got to reconnect with lots of family and learn things about my grandfather I hadn't known before.
Take a look at him in his Mad Men days as an executive at Xerox. Also, peep this photo of him and my grandmother as newlyweds in their early 20's... this would have been the late 1940s/early 1950s. I actually got to read through a letter she left him in their senior high school yearbook from 1948. It was so sweet and so crazy to imagine my grandparents wooing one another as teens.
He was a jazz-loving dude with a serious sweet tooth. Whenever we visited, there was lots of ice cream and apple pie to go around. He traveled a ton and always humbly shied away when I'd ask him to tell me about canoeing down the Amazon or exploring Vienna. He was also the funniest person I've ever met; I can't tell you a joke or routine he had. His humor was simple including little more than a perfectly-timed head cock or raised eyebrow. I'll miss him a lot.
While my sisters were all still in town, I had them over for a feast that was made up of these short ribs and this creamy polenta. I actually recreated the pavlovas for dessert too! My original plan was to go fancy with some osso bucco, but DAMN that stuff is expensive. Also, I'm never sure if I'm OK with veal, so I went with short ribs instead. Oh boy were they greasy and yummy and rich and the best.
Serve 'em up with a Shirley Temple (or kiddie cocktail as grandpa Jack called 'em), or for the adults, a whiskey sour in his honor. Anyway, hug the ones you love and make 'em yummy food. xx!
Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta
- 3 lbs short ribs
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
- 2 oz bacon, chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup chopped carrot
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2/3 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 14 oz canned tomatoes
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 5 cups water
- 2 Tbsp butter
- grated parmesan, to taste
For the Polenta
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut ribs into pieces along each bone if not done already. Mix together flour, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Dredge each rib in flour mixture until fully coated and set aside.
- Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until fat is fully rendered. Meanwhile, blitz onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in a food processor until you have a paste-like mixture. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Using a paper towel, soak up excess bacon fat in Dutch oven, leaving behind about two tablespoons. Add in ribs and brown on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Cook onion mixture in hot bacon fat until most of the liquid is released and bits begin to brown. Push mixture to the side and add in pepper flakes and tomato paste, allowing it to toast for a minute until aromatic. Stir into rest of onion mixture.
- By this time, there should be toasty brown bits sticking to the Dutch oven. Pour in red wine and vinegar and stir, scraping up those bits as the pan deglazes. Cook until liquid has reduced a bit, about four minutes.
- Next add in tomatoes, stock, thyme, bay leaves, and oregano. Return short ribs to pot and cover. Place in oven and let braise for two hours.
- Thirty minutes before ribs are done, set water to boil. Once boiling, whisk in cornmeal and a big pinch of salt. Stir for two minutes as mixture thickens. Turn heat to low and let cook for about 35 minutes, stirring every few minutes to make sure polenta doesn't stick to pan. Stir in butter while still hot.
- Spoon polenta onto plate and top with 2 - 3 short ribs and some extra sauce. Top with grated parmesan.