An extra epecial, romantical dinner

Mar. 05, 2013 @ 08:19 AM

Were you, Gentle Reader, wondering why there was no ode to Cupid, no Valentine’s column?

The lack is because of men, and red frosting.

First off, scarlet icing.  It’s used a ton in V-Day baked sweets and even some candy treats.

And it’s just plain wrong.

I’m not sure what manner of alchemical darkness brings forth this crimson mess, but it’s the very depth of evil.  The flavor it brings to blameless, unsuspecting, buttercream is a perversion akin to putting Robert Johnson on Prozac.

So for once during the year, bakery-case bounty turns me off

Then the men.

Chef Jason Cunningham runs the culinary show at the Washington Duke Inn.  Occasionally, as your intrepid food writer, I will sample some delights put forth by Chef and his staff.

Once I lunched on delicious braised short ribs with blue cheese risotto.  I asked for the recipe. 

He just was able to get it to me.

*Note: These recipes take time.  They also use some ingredients not readily available.  Check gourmet stores and Internet.

Serve this substantial meal with salad and for dessert, berries and cream.


Braised Beef Short Ribs with Red Wine Veal Reduction


For the Short Ribs:


4-5 lb boneless beef short ribs

1 carrot, roughly chopped

1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 rib celery, roughly chopped

6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced

2 cups dry red wine

1 cup chicken stock or low sodium broth

1/2 cup veal demi glace

3 bay leaves

3 star anise (optional)

6 sprigs fresh thyme

½ cup olive oil

2 tbl unsalted butter

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

• Trim short ribs of any significant excess fat, cut to desired portion size and season lightly with salt only.  Reserve.

• Chop vegetables into 1” pieces

• Heat a large heavy pan, preferably a Dutch Oven, over medium high heat and preheat oven to 250 degrees.

• Add enough of the olive oil to coat the pan and then brown the short ribs thoroughly on both sides.  Once the meat is nicely caramelized remove it from the pan and reserve.

• Add the vegetables and the garlic to the pan and allow them to brown as well, stirring occasionally, being careful not to burn them.

• Reduce heat to medium and add red wine to deglaze pan.  Allow to reduce by 50 percent and remove from heat.

• Return short ribs to the pan.  Add the chicken stock, the demi glace and the herbs and spices, making sure all ingredients are distributed evenly inside pan.  There should be just enough liquid in the pan to cover the meat by about 2/3.

• Cover the pan tightly with a lid or with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven.  Cook at 250 degrees for 1 hour

• Remove the pan from oven and turn the short ribs to ensure even cooking.  Cover pan and return to the oven and continue to cook for 40 minutes more.

• Using a fork, check the short ribs for tenderness.  When they are fork-tender and moist remove them from the oven and allow them to cool in the braising liquid.  (NOTE: Cooking times will vary depending on the quality of the meat and the thickness of the cut.  After the first hour I recommend checking them every 30 minutes during the cooking process to ensure that they are cooked through.  On average the cooking time is between two and three hours.)

For the sauce and to serve:

• Once cooled, remove meat from braising liquid and place in a bake proof dish.  Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve and reserve.

• Discard fat from the top of the braising liquid and transfer to a sauce pan.  Pour 1/3 of the liquid over the beef and place the remaining broth on the stove.

• Cover dish of short ribs with foil and reserve.

• Allow braising liquid to reduce over medium heat by about 50 percent or until it begins to coat a spoon.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and whisk in the 2 tbl unsalted butter.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

• Heat the short ribs by placing them, covered, in 300 degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes.

• Divide meat evenly between six large plates.  Pour ¼ cup of sauce over each portion and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Blue Cheese Risotto

2 cups arborio rice

3 qts vegetables stock, heated

¼ cup fresh grated parmesan reggiano

¼ - ½ cup Maytag blue cheese, crumbled

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

1 tbl fresh garlic, chopped

½ cup unsalted butter

½ cup Italian parsley, chopped

 • Bring stock to simmer and turn off heat.

• Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and lightly sauté until tender. 

• Add rice and stir to coat it in butter.  Allow the rice to lightly toast over medium low heat for about 5 minutes. 

• Add 2 cups of the stock, return to a simmer and stir the rice thoroughly until most of the liquid is absorbed. 

• Repeat this process, adding small amounts of stock and stirring constantly until rice is cooked through but should still have a slightly “al dente” texture.

• Add the cheeses beginning with the parmesan and then the blue -- using just enough blue to taste.

• Adjust seasoning, stir in fresh parsley and serve immediately

 Makes 4-6 Servings

Petey is the other male who’s had an effect on this column.

In addition to countless other good qualities, Petey is the most perfect man on this planet to be my spouse.  

He’s also a rebel who hates to be told what to do.

So for holidays that whiff a bit strongly of the greeting card/industrial complex, he shies away.

And I’m absolutely sure it’s not just because February 14th is really scary for guys.

Thanks for your time.