With the arrival of cooler weather so many think it’s time to cover up their grill in favor of stews and braises. Steve has a different view on that. He has always enjoyed good food and loves his grill, what man doesn’t? In preparation for our life together one of the first things he did was research a grill for the backyard. Steve interviewed vendors, researched the Internet and finally decided on a grill the size of a small car. Having always loved to cook and gather over a dinner table I began to create our backyard entertaining area around our outdoor kitchen.
With the temperature hovering in the 50, I went to the market with some slow cooking in mind. I found beautiful short ribs, prepped the vegetables, Steve selected a Le Creuset and headed for the grill. He loves to brown, sear, and do anything that creates a mess outside being the indoor neat nick he is. He uses his grill year round, even shoveling a path through the snow to reach it.
Steve uses his grill just as he would the indoor cooktop and oven. I cover the grates of the grill to protect the bottom of my Le Creuset and he takes over, browning the meat then moving it off to the side to sauté the veggies. Once the veggies are done he nestles the meat in, adds the braising liquid, places the lid on the pot and closes the cover on the grill to simmer the dish for a few hours. (Never fear, this works just as well in the kitchen if your grill is not accessible. The recipe is written for indoor use.)
The aromas are amazing, it’s hard not to eat it then and there but we know these things improve with age. We cool it down and place it in the fridge, allowing the flavors to marry. I love to let any braise rest, if time allows. The evening we plan to serve it, which means that dinner will be ready in a flash! This is the magic of braising.
Julia and the girls joined us for dinner the next day. Our kitchen is small so the bar is our casual entertaining spot. Steve set up the table, poured the wine and created a cozy setting for the three of us. What a lovely evening for a one dish dinner and conversation. Ah, the beauty of cold weather cooking!
Steve announced that his grill is approaching retirement. He is on the hunt to select a new one for the summer season. Stay tuned for the updates on his research for a replacement.
- 6 pieces of beef shank or short ribs
- ¾ cup of flour
- sea salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 onions, finely diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 3 carrots
- 4 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 zest of one lemon
- 3 bay leaves
- a bundle of parsley stems (about 10-12)
- One small Rosemary Sprig or ¼ Teaspoon Thyme Leaves
- 4 Thyme sprigs or ½ Teaspoon Rosemary Leaves
- 1 bottle red wine + more as needed
- 2 cups beef broth, low sodium if canned + more as needed
- 1 28oz can whole tomatoes, crushed
- Faux Polenta, for serving
- Blot the beef with paper towels. Put the flour in a gallon resealable plastic bag. Season aggressively with salt & pepper, taste to make sure the seasoning is correct. Add the beef, one piece at a time to the bag and shake coating the meat with the flour and tapping the excess back into the bag. Place each of the floured pieces onto a clean cutting board or platter.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat; add the olive oil & butter. Once the butter melts sear the beef in two batches if necessary to prevent crowding. Make sure you get a nice mahogany sear all over the beef, using tongs to turn each piece as necessary adding more oil as needed. Remove the browned pieces to a plate and admire the fond you have created in the pot.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In the pot that you seared the beef add the chopped onion, celery and carrots. Cook the vegetables until they develop some color. Stir in the tomato paste for 30 seconds then add the garlic, lemon zest, bay leaves and the bundle of parsley stems. Cook the vegetables down to get a rich aroma. Nestle the meat in the pot, pour in the wine and cook down until the wine is reduced by half. Add the beef broth & tomatoes, cover the pot and put it in the oven.
- Braise for 2 hours then remove the lid and cook for 30 min. The sauce should be thickened and meat falling off the bones. Serve the Braise over polenta, mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. Sprinkle the finished dish with the gremolata , if desired.
- 1 small cauliflower, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
- 1 ½ cups millet
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- pinch of saffron threads
- 5 ½ cups water or beef broth
- 2 teaspoons salt
- In a heavy saucepan combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes until water has been absorbed.
- Hint: start checking the “polenta” after 15 minutes of simmering to see if more liquid is needed.