Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Short Rib Bucatini

Anything after labor day is fall, right? I don't care that it was 82 degrees in Chicago today. I don't even care that the leaves are still bright green on the trees, and the beaches are still full of people. I've got the fall itch, and while you won't see me standing in line at Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte, you will catch me in the kitchen braising something.

Up until now, I have only made my short ribs one way. A very good way, mind you, but I was in a rut and it was time to branch out. I am sure I will find myself braising some short ribs in red wine and beef stock at some point this winter, but for now, this version suits this summer-ish fall season just fine. Plus, it let me use the last of my fresh basil from my teeny tiny herb 'garden' that I have somehow managed not to kill this summer. (By 'garden' I mean two window boxes hanging from my deck rail.)

Short Rib Bucatini
recipe adapted from Food & Wine

4 tbl olive oil
3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 large vidalia onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbl tomato paste
2 - 28 oz. cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 pound dried bucatini
fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat olive oil in a large enameled cast iron pot over medium high heat. Season all sides of the short ribs generously with salt and pepper. When oil is hot, brown all sides of each piece of short rib, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove short ribs to a plate and set aside. Pour all but two tablespoons of fat our of the pot, and return to medium-low heat.

Add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and gently browned, about 12-15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook for about 2-3 minutes, string constantly. Add the tomatoes and gently mash as you are stirring them in. Add carrots, bay leaves, and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a simmer. Place short ribs and all the juices that may have accumulated back into pot and turn heat to the lowest setting. Cover loosely and simmer gently for about 4 hours, until meat it tender and is falling off the bone. Stir occasionally to turn short ribs and to monitor any scorching that may occur in the bottom of the pan. When meat is cooked, remove to cutting board, and discard the bones and any excess fat and connective tissue. You can either chop the meat into small pieces or gently pull the chunks apart with two forks.

Remove the bay leaves from the tomato sauce and carefully transfer to a food processor and pulse until pureed. Alternatively, you can leave the sauce in the pot and use a immersion blender, or you can leave the sauce chunky as is. Return sauce to pan over low heat, and return short rib meat to sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and hold over low heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the bucatini until just al dente, then drain, and add the pasta into the sauce. Simmer the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes, adding some reserved pasta water if you find it is too thick.

Chiffonade a few leaves of fresh basil and grate some parmesan cheese to garnish.

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