Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Roasted sauce with short ribs

I've been cooking fresh tomato sauce for weeks now and so there's plenty in the freezer to last me (and the usual suspects; you know who you are) through the year. Recipe? Fuhgeddaboudit. I wing it every time, which means that every batch of sauce, 10 or so in all this summer, has been different. The last couple batches have been especially tasty and feature whole bone-in meats, like the pork butt from a couple weeks back and now these beef short ribs.

This sauce uses up the last of my garden's tomatoes, even a few that didn't ripen. I won't bore you with the details of using green tomatoes, or the roasting process in general, as we've covered the topics before. For the background here's the Roasted Green Tomato Sauce recipe and here's another Roasted Tomato Sauce that combines both ripe and green specimens. These chopped-up garden tomatoes filled my largest metal bowl. I'm guessing it's around 8 or 10 pounds' worth of tomatoes.

Again, winging it is highly encouraged around here. To start a sauce don't be afraid to be creative. I've used huge leeks, hunks of diced-up prosciutto ends or pancetta, a piece of speck I'd been neglecting in the fridge, all kinds of things. But four items you gotta have, in whatever amount you like, are carrots, celery, onion and garlic.

This is 2 pounds of beef short ribs (bone-in). Generously coat all sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. (As I mentioned earlier, a whole pork butt would get the exact same treatment throughout this process should you decide to go that route instead.)

Pour plenty of olive oil into whatever oven-ready pot you'll be cooking the sauce in (mine is a 13-quart dutch oven), brown the ribs and then remove and set aside.

Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic, along with whatever fresh herbs you like, and saute until they've softened. NOTE: You'll also see that there are several anchovy fillets in here. I always use them because they add a depth to the flavor; plus, I don't need to add as much salt. And no, you can't taste the anchovy in the sauce. Use it, don't use it, makes no difference to me.

Add half a cup to a cup of red or white wine (I often use a dry vermouth) and allow it to reduce.

Then return the ribs to the pot.

Add your tomatoes, mix everything up, cover and put in the oven preheated to 350 degress F.

When the meat is very tender (2 hours ought to do it but poke at the meat with a fork to be sure) remove the ribs and set aside to cool. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degreees F and return the pot to the oven for another 30 minutes or so, or until the sauce's consistency is to your liking. If the sauce is already the consistency you like then don't bother cooking it any longer.

After the ribs have cooled enough to handle, shred off all the meat.

All that's left to do now is add the meat to the sauce and mix thoroughly.

Oh, and boil yourslf some pasta to go with it.

But I'm pretty sure you knew that already.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Pasta with corn & gorgonzola

Sometimes it really is ALL about the ingredients.
I was in New York visiting the family and naturally made a stop at my favorite Italian food store on the planet, D. Coluccio & Sons in Brooklyn. If you've never been then do yourself a big favor and get a move on. Now!

Anyhow, they had this beautiful hunk of cheese that I'd never tasted before: a Gorgonzola-Mascarpone blend. One of the cheesemongers, a new guy that I didn't know, offered me a try and I liked it so much that I bought the entire two-pound piece.

Nothing succeeds like excess.
By the time I got home to Maine, the best thing waiting for me (besides about 10 more pounds of ripe tomatoes in the garden and, okay, the woman) was corn season. After plowing through an unknown quantity of fresh-from-the-farm corn and a not insignificant amount of the cheese, the idea of putting the two together came to me.
Normally I steam corn but in this case I filled a big pot with water, tossed in a handful of salt, and blanched two ears for three minutes. Do not throw away the water. It's what you'll cook the pasta in. Get it?
After the corn has cooled a bit carve off the kernels and set aside.
In a large pan saute three or four garlic cloves in olive oil until tender, then add one medium-size chopped fresh tomato. Cook for two or three minutes. This is also a good time to get your pasta started in the pot that you cooked the corn in.
Add the corn and several basil leaves.
Then add about 1/4 pound of the cheese. If you can't find the Gorgonzola-Mascarpone then maybe use a mild gorgonzola instead.
Stir it all up, add some freshly ground black pepper, then cook at medium heat for around five minutes.
When the pasta is ready add it to the pan and incorporate. Make sure to save some of the pasta water and add as needed to keep things moist.
My guess is that corn season will be around a little while longer. As for the Gorgonzola-Mascarpone, well, I'm always looking for a reason to drive down and visit la famiglia!