Monday, August 11, 2008

A GOOD Dinner: Braised Buffalo Short-Ribs


This weekend, Tim came up to hang out. We pretty much cooked and hung out and watched the Olympics, which made for a great weekend. I'm tired and watching the Olympics now, so I'll put the full recipes up tomorrow. For now, here are the pictures from my GOOD dinner and the following breakfast. Enjoy!

OK, I'll see if I can remember all of the ingredients and how I put all this together. Here goes.

Ingredients:
  • Cooking Music: Bombadil, A Buzz, a Buzz
  • Short-Ribs
    • ~5lbs Grass Fed Buffalo Short-Ribs from Cibola Farms, which I got at the Arlington Farmer's Market.
    • 2 Brothers Big Tattoo Red wine (2005), Chile
    • Onion
    • Celery
    • Tomatoes
    • Roasted Red Pepper
    • Fresh Thyme
    • Fresh Rosemary
    • Kosher salt
    • Black pepper
    • Paprika
    • Bay leaf
    • Garlic
    • Olive oil
    • Water
    • Sauce for Ribs
      • The above stew after removing the ribs
      • another roasted red pepper
  • Main Course Wine: Tittarelli Malbec (2004), Argentina
  • Pilaf
    • Red Quinoa
    • Frozen vegetables
    • Kosher Salt
    • Black Pepper
    • Garlic
  • Salad
    • Fresh Mozzarella
    • Tomato
    • Fresh Basil
    • Roasted Red Pepper
    • Olive Oil
    • Balsamic Vinegar reduction
      • Balsamic Vinegar
      • Cane sugar
      • Honey
      • Bay leaf
  • Berry Topped Ice Cream
    • Vanilla ice cream
    • Dark chocolate
    • Berry Topping
      • Raspberries
      • Cherries
      • Cane sugar
      • Water
      • Vanilla Extract
  • Desert Wine: Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc (2007), New Zealand
  • After Dinner Wine: Smoking Loon Pinot Grigio
  • Late Night Nachos
    • White Corn Tortilla Chips
    • Shredded Cheese mix
    • Salami
    • Olives
    • Valentina's
  • Tim's Morning Bloody Mary's
    • Pepper Vodka
    • Tomato Juice
    • Celery
    • Lemon Juice
    • Olive Juice
    • Worchestershire Sauce
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Tabasco Sauce
    • Horseradish
    • Celery Salt
  • Breakfast
    • Forest Fed Pork Sausage, from Babes in the Wood farm, Alexandria Farmer's Market
    • Free Range Bacon, from EcoFriendly Foods, Arlington Farmer's Market.
    • Free Range Eggs, from Smith Meadows farm, Arlington Farmer's Market
    • Tomato
    • Gluten Free Toast
    • Homemade Apple Butter
Procedure:
I got out the door later than planned, around 10 Saturday morning, to hit some Farmer's Markets. I got forest fed pork sausage from the Alexandria Farmer's Market, then eggs, bacon, buffalo short-ribs, and tomatoes from the Arlington Farmer's Market. The Arlington market was much bigger and had a much better selection of food. This was my first time going because it is a lot farther away than the Alexandria market. Then I went to Whole Foods to get the wine and other ingredients. I'll go through the procedure I used for each dish in the order eaten, not in the order cooked.

Salad: For the salad dressing, I took balsamic vinegar, sweetened it with cane sugar and honey, flavored it a little with a bay leaf, and reduced that for about half an hour. That made a nice dressing, thicker and sweeter and more flavorful than plain balsamic vinegar. That went onto a simple salad of sliced mozzarella, sliced tomato, julienned roasted red pepper, and fresh basil. I also had avocado and kalamata olives, but I completely forgot about them. Oh well, it was good.

Short-ribs: Anyway, I got home around noon, planned things out, got a snack, and started working on the ribs at about 1. To start with, I seasoned the ribs with kosher salt and black pepper. Then I browned them for about a minute on all sides. After browning, I cut them up into single ribs, which I probably should have done before browning. These were then set aside.
To start the braising stew, I carmalized some onions and peppers with lots of seasoning. The 2 Brothers red wine went into that to get all the seasoning out of the pan. This went into a large pot with the ribs. I then added more wine, chopped tomatoes, some water, a bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, and more spices. I brought the mixture to a boil then reduced the heat to let it simmer for about 3.5 hours. Around 2 hours in, I threw one of my roasted red peppers in. I was going to put it in the sauce anyway, probably didn't make a difference.
When the ribs were done, I pulled them out of the braising stew. This was made difficult because the meat was perfectly done and falling off the bones. I had to be gentle to keep the pieces from falling apart under their own weight. Then, I skimmed as much fat off the braising stew as I could. I brought the heat back up and reduced the stew for another half hour. When the volume was down a bit, I scooped some of the stew into a food processor, along with another roasted red pepper. That was all blended up into a nice sauce that was served over the ribs.

Pilaf: The pilaf was supposed to be served with the ribs, but I forgot to start it until I served them, so we just had it as a separate course. To make it, I just followed the same procedure I have in several previous posts - I cooked the quinoa normally, but added a little extra water, frozen vegetables, garlic, and some seasoning. It is a very simple, filling, healthy side dish. Some people aren't very familiar with quinoa and its awesomeness, so here is the wikipedia page, very interesting: Quinoa.

Desert: For desert, I made a simple ice cream topping. I took some raspberries and cherries, cleaned both, de-pitted the cherries, then simmered them with water and cane sugar for about half an hour. This is pretty much the same process as making cranberry sauce. When it was done, I added a little vanilla extract, then put the mix in a food processor. This smoothed everything out and saved me from straining it to get rid of the cherry skins. I shaved some dark chocolate onto vanilla ice cream, then added the fruit topping. Nice!

Wine: This was my first try at pairing wine with some foods. With my friend Tim's help, I think we did pretty well. We had an Argentinian Malbec with the main course. It was a heavy red wine that complemented the flavorful, heavy main dishes of buffalo and red quinoa. We then had a New Zealand Cabernet Souvignon with desert. It is a sweet white that went great with the fruit.

Late Night Nachos:
Later, after more wine and watching the Olympics, we needed a snack. So, I whipped up some nachos with chips, pre-shredded cheese, olives, and salami. I put out some Valentina's hot sauce for people to use as they saw fit. They were delicious and went well with the Smoking Loon Pinot Grigio from California that we were drinking.

Tim's Morning Bloody Mary's: Tim mixed up all the ingredients listed above and churned out some tasty bloody mary's.

Breakfast: For breakfast, we fried up a spread of sausage, bacon, eggs, tomato, and toast with homemade apple butter.

Resulting Deliciousness:
This was probably the best overall meal I've ever made. This was the first time I've made short-ribs and they just might be my favorite cut of meat now. They were tender and tasty. I really liked the taste of the free range buffalo, but but I bet the difference between buffalo and beef is probably more pronounced in other cuts, like steaks or burgers. If the quinoa had been ready at the right time, it would have gone right with the ribs in a fantastic way. I was pretty happy with the taste of the salad, but forgot the kalamata olives and the avocado. That would have put it over the top. The desert was simple, easy and crazy delicious. The late night nachos were good, but I think a hot sausage would have been a better topping than that hard salami. Breakfast the next day was great. The sausage was made from forest fed pork and might have been the best sausage I've had in my life. The bacon was free range pork, and pretty solid. The eggs were also free range, and quite tasty, but they fell short of other free range ones I've had. I think the chickens were probably still grain fed, even if they were allowed to see some sunlight and weren't pumped with antibiotics.

I've started to use free range, naturally fed meats, raised as locally as I can find. The book The Omnivore's Dilemma gives a good overview of the many many benefits of naturally fed animal products. While all of the ethical, economic, health, and ecological issues can be a large incentive, I think the taste simply beats the hell out mass produced foods. If you can find a local farmer's market, or a local farm, I highly suggest trying some grass fed beef or free range chicken. You can also order some stuff online, but that will make it much more expensive. Sites like Eat Wild are a great place to look for local places to get this type of better tasting, more healthy, more sustainable food.
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