This month’s selection from Hugh Acheson’s cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen, was another attempt to use up something we had in the freezer – a three pound rack of beef short ribs. It was one of those “Manager’s Specials” my husband purchased at Kroger – you know, the package of meat that’s quickly approaching it’s due date and has been drastically reduced in price. I know my husband probably thought “barbeque!” but I thought braised short ribs instead.
However, these short ribs weren’t very short. In fact, they were twice as long as what would be served in Hugh’s restaurant. Lacking a band saw, I decided to make due and forge ahead with the ribs as is. So instead of two little elegant rib pieces, I had to serve up Fred Flintstone sized ribs instead. No biggie.
So, when buying ribs, make sure you’d have enough to serve one rib to each person. (The rack I had consisted of six ribs and was three pounds, so I doubled the recipe.) If I was buying ribs, I’d ask my butcher for four ribs weighing in at 1 1/2 pounds – and I would ask to have the ribs cut in half.
Weeknight cooking strategy
This recipe takes four to five hours to make, so it’s something you’d make on the weekend. However, you could make it during the week with a little planning. Here’s how:
Evening 1 – after dinner, prepare your “mise en place” – your chopped vegetables, measured seasonings, measured out liquids, etc. Place everything in small bowls or measuring cups, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. This will take you 30 to 45 minutes including clean up time.
Evening 2 – while cooking dinner (if possible) or after, cook up steps 1 through 10. Place ribs back in the Dutch oven and store in the pot in the refrigerator. Also, don’t bother skimming the fat off the braising liquid. By storing it in the refrigerator overnight, you’ll have a thick, congealed layer of fat on the top, which you can spoon off. So much easier and more healthy, too! This will take 3 to 3 1/2 hours including clean up and storage time.
Evening 3 – cook up steps 11 through 17 and serve. You may need to heat ribs in the stew 5 minutes longer since they’ll be cold from the refrigerator. This part will take 25 to 30 minutes.
A note on hominy and Dutch ovens
Hominy is made from dried corn that’s been soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, and hulled. Here in the Georgia, I was able to find canned hominy – both white and yellow variations – in the canned vegetable aisle near the beans. If your store doesn’t stock hominy in that aisle, try the Hispanic section or buy it at a Hispanic market as hominy is a popular ingredient in pozole soup.
Since the short ribs have to be cooked both on the stove top, then in the oven, you need to have cookware with a lid that will work in both. I used my two ancient Le Creuset 5 1/2-Quart Round French Ovens, since I doubled the recipe. But secretly I would have loved to have a Le Creuset 7 1/4-Quart French Oven or a couple of Le Creuset’s 5-Quart Round Braisers. If wishes were fishes…
If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can sear the ribs in a skillet and transfer them to a casserole dish with a lid for braising.
Not-So-Short Short Ribs with Hominy Stew
- 4 (6 ounce) portions short ribs, trimmed of connective tissue
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus additional per taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled and coarsely cut into a large dice
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
- 1 celery stalk, leaves removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 dried ancho chile
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 15.5 ounce can hominy – yellow or white
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 leek, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch dice (use just the white and light green parts of the leek)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons canned roasted green chiles
- 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- On a large platter or cutting board, lay out the short ribs and evenly rub all sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in a cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ribs to the pan and sear on all sides – about 2 minutes per side. If needed, do the ribs in batches.
- With ribs still in the Dutch oven, add the onion, carrot and celery. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chile, bay leaves, thyme sprig, and red wine. Cook to reduce the wine by half – about 15 minutes.
- Add the beef stock and bring to a simmer.
- Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven. Allow to cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is starting to pull away from the bone.
- Remove the short ribs from the Dutch oven and place ribs aside on a large plate or bowl. (You’ll be using the Dutch oven for the final step, so don’t wash it! Instead, lightly wipe out any remaining fat or vegetable matter.)
- Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the braising liquid into a 2-cup or larger measuring cup. Discard the onion, celery, bay leaves, thyme and chile.
- Skim off all the fat from the surface. If there’s less than 2 cups of braising liquid, add enough beef stock or water to bring it up to 2 cups.
- Drain and rinse hominy, and set aside.
- Place Dutch oven on stove over medium heat. Add the butter, leek and garlic. Sweat the vegetables for 5 minutes, while occasionally stirring.
- Add the roasted green chiles, diced tomato, cumin, thyme, and the 2 cups of braising liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes and season with salt to taste. (While simmering, feel free to scrape the sides of your Dutch oven to add the “brown yummy goodness” from the braising to your vegetables.)
- Add the hominy and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the short ribs to the stew to reheat. Stir to cover the ribs in the stew and cook for 5 minutes.
- Turn off heat and stir in the parsley.
- Ladle the stew into 4 bowls, placing the ribs on top. Enjoy!
- Serving size: 1 rib plus 1/4 of stew
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Last month, I attended the Buick Encore Lifestyle Event in Atlanta as the “plus one” of my friend, Eileen Calandro, the Chief Mom Connector of Mom Central. She was invited to test drive the new Buick Encore before it hits dealerships in February, 2013.
I was looking forward to spending time with Eileen while driving a luxurious crossover around the Atlanta metro area including a stop at a local Toys “R” Us to shop for the Toys for Tots program. However, I was just about out of my mind that we would meet celebrity chef and Top Chef Season 10 judge, Hugh Acheson at his restaurant, Empire State South, and tour the Love is Love urban farm. Have fork will travel!
Love is Love Farm at Gaia Gardens
Driving through suburban Decatur, Georgia, you’d never know the Love is Love Farm at Gaia Gardens is there. Yet over 15 years ago, the housing development East Lake Commons was built to include a working, organic farm. The farm grows a surprisingly wide diversity of crops, enough to accommodate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
Our Buick Encore Lifestyle group met with farmer, Joe Reynolds, who showed us around while explaining how the farm manages planting, irrigation, composting, and crop rotation. Joe also told us that the Love is Love farm has a close relationship with many Atlanta restaurants that provide the vegetable scraps for their impressive composting piles. In turn, the farm sells them organic, hyper-local produce, big bags of which we loaded into our Buick Encores to be cooked up for our dinner at Empire State South.
The farm tour was fascinating and I loved Joe’s passion for local, sustainable organic farming. It made me wish I lived closer so I could take advantage of their CSA.
Dinner at Empire State South
After a quick stop back at Twelve Atlantic Station at our gorgeous suite (complete with a full kitchen), Eileen and I were driven in one of the Buick Encores to Empire State South for dinner. Our group hit the bar for cocktails, appetizers and charcuterie. I had two unique cocktails, Orchard Punch, a bourbon drink, and Death on the Moon, made with absinthe. The charcuterie was marvelous, and I’d order it again as a meal, along with a glass of red wine.
Then it was off to a private dining room for a cooking demonstration from Hugh Acheson! He was as funny, personable and down to earth as he appears on Top Chef. He told us a story about appearing on a food panel with Paula Dean. While he likes Paula a lot, he doesn’t agree with her that Southern cooking means fried foods and tons of butter and sugar. Instead, his philosophy is cooking with traditional foods grown in the South, in a modern, sophisticated way.
While he demonstrated his Turnips and Their Greens Risotto (recipe included below), Hugh told us about the Southern goodness of Carolina Gold rice and making your own chicken stock in the slow cooker. (Loved that tip!) We sampled the risotto along with our dinner.
First course was Local Lettuces with roasted Brussels leaves, beets, pickled carrots, ESS fromage blanc, and served with a crisp sourdough. Second course was a choice of Roasted Georgia Trout, Chicken Roulade, or Prime Ribeye. (I had the rib eye, which was served rare with celery root and bread gratin, roasted kale with shiitakes, and a shoyu vinaigrette.) For dessert, we had Meyer Lemon Parfait clementine, bergamot brioche, candied cranberry, and sweet potato sorbet.
Eileen and I agreed it was a fabulous meal. I can’t wait to go back to Empire State South with my husband!
Turnips and Their Greens Risotto
- 3 small hakurei turnips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
- 1 cup Caroline Gold Middland's broken kernel rice
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock
- 2 cups finely chopped turnip greens
- 1/2 cup finely grated (rasp) Parmagiano
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon finely cut bias cut onion top for garnish
- Very thinly slice the turnips. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt and set aside. These will finish the risotto.
- Warm your chicken stock in a pot and place a ladle in it. Keep this on the back of the stove. Place a good pot on the stove over medium to medium high heat and add the remaining olive oil. Add the minced onion bulb and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until the onion is translucent but not charred at all, about five minutes.
- Add the rice and lightly glaze the rice. From the moment the rice goes in, the is about 17 minutes to completion, so keep an eye on the clock. You should be stirring a lot but no need to stir all the time.
- Start adding the stock, about a cup at a time and stir and cook until the stock is absorbed. Then add more. Repeat. After a while you will see this luxurious, starchy liquid surround those little rice kernels. This is good. After about 15 minutes taste your rice. it should have a slight crunchiness to it but you have to soothsay what it will taste like after two to three more minutes as it sits in the bowl before consumption.
- Let's finish this up. Add the butter and the parmesan - and stir well to fold those beautiful finishes into the risotto. Then add the turnip greens to wilt them into the risotto. It's done. When it gets in that bowl it will set up well. Spoon into shallow bowls and garnish with the raw turnips and some more Parmagiano.
- Serving size: 1/4 of recipe
More about the Buick Encore Lifestyle Event
Eileen posted about the Buick Encore and our Toys “R” Us shopping spree for Toys for Tots at Luxurious, Affordable Design with the New Buick Encore at Mom Central’s blog. If you love cars and auto design, you'll love her post.
Don't forget to check out the Buick Encore, too! My favorite color is Ruby Red with the Saddle interior. What’s yours?
Disclosure: I was invited to an all expenses paid editor’s trip by Buick. I also received a signed copy of Hugh Acheson’s cookbook, A New Turn in the South, and some promotional items. All photos except for the Empire State South collage were provided by Buick. All experiences and opinions are my own.