My life will definitely be changing a bit. I'll be changing my whole commuting routine now. Instead of driving to Connecticut every day, I'll be an official commuter taking the train to NYC. (Yay! I won't be hit with the double whammy from NY and CT at tax time anymore!) I'll be able to blog from the train. I have almost unlimited lunch options. Unfortunately I'll also have to dress for work. Gone are the days when I could drag myself to the office in shorts and a t-shirt on a hot summer day and no one would care as long as I wasn't going to be seeing clients.
I will have to start doing some serious baking in hopes of winning over my new coworkers.
I'm enjoying my last week of freedom before I have to return to the cube farms. That's another thing I will miss - my 5 weeks of vacation. I don't know how I can reach my goal of seeing the world and still going to Chincoteague every summer when I only have 10 days a year.
So anyway, this past weekend was Father's Day and I wanted to do something special for the fathers in my life - in other words Dad and Bro. I decided to have a little dinner party for everyone where the dads and the kids and grandkids could enjoy an evening of wine and comfort food together.
I had been formulating an idea for a pasta tossed with a ragu made of short ribs for a while. I thought it would be great for Father's Day since short ribs are one of Dad's favorite foods. You know what I learned about short ribs? People don't like to sell them this time of year because they are a "winter" food. I had been wanting to get them at the farmers' markets, but that's not easy this time of year. Even the supermarkets had a skimpy supply. Fortunately, while shopping at the Larchmont Farmers' market on Saturday morning for supplies, I was able to find short ribs (on sale no less) at Kiernan Farm. Grass fed, grass finished, and no harmful medications pumped into the meat.
I used my Chianti Beef Stew as a template. I braised the ribs in tomatoes, Chianti wine, and tomatoes, but like a more traditional stew, I started off with a mirepoix of carrots, celery, and onion.
I was a little worried about the sauce when I first took the ribs from the oven. For one thing, such fresh, unprocessed meat meant that there was a higher ratio of inedible connective tissue. I was afraid I wouldn't have much meat left after I started separating the meat from the bones and shredding it. I had purchased over 6 pounds of ribs too. With the meat removed from the cooking liquid, I degreased it and then pureed it with a stick blender. I just don't like mushy vegetable chunks. I like a smooth sauce. I wasn't sure if I liked the taste when it was all blended. I put the meat back in the sauce and let it simmer until I was ready to serve it.
Something magical happened in that last half hour or so of cooking. The flavors of all the different ingredients began to meld seamlessly and deliciously. I served it over rigatoni pasta and it was one of the best pasta dishes I had ever made. I would have eaten the whole pot of it if I hadn't been pigging out on the cheese tray all evening. (How did people ever manage to do a cheese tray before Trader Joe's?)
Dessert I made an s'mores ice cream pie. This started with a graham cracker crust (a sleeve of graham crackers crumbed, a stick of melted butter, two tablespoons of sugar, press into pie plate and bake at 325 for 8 minutes), some chocolate ice cream (I made a batch of milk chocolate ice cream from Dave Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop- I added half a bag of mini chocolate chips to the ice cream in the last few minutes of churning it too), topped the whole thing with mini marshmallows and then put it under the broiler for two minutes to brown and melt them. The whole thing gets garnished with more graham crackers.
Short Rib Ragu` Pasta
- 6 lbs of short ribs
- 2 oz. pancetta, diced
- 4 small carrots, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 ribs celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 28 oz. cans plum tomatoes
- 2 cups Chianti wine
- 2 lbs hearty pasta like rigatoni or large noodles like pappardelle
- Copious amounts of pecorino
In a large pot over medium heat, sprinkle the short ribs with salt and pepper and brown on all sides. You will probably need to work in shifts, doing no more than 3 or 4 at a time to prevent steaming. Remove ribs from pan and set aside.
Drain off excess fat and add pancetta to the pan. Cook until crispy and fat is rendered. Drain off most of the fat.
Add the carrots, celery, and onion to the pot. Cook until onions are soft and the vegetables take on some color. Add the garlic and cook an additional two minutes.
Stir in the wine and tomatoes. Use your hands to break up the tomatoes a bit as you add them to the pot.
Add the ribs back to the pot. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven (you might want to place a cookie sheet under the pot to catch any leaks).
Cook for 3 hours. Remove the ribs from the pot and shred the meat, discarding the bones and connective tissue. Degrease the sauce. At this point if you prefer a chunky sauce, you can leave it alone. Otherwise, you can puree the tomatoes and vegetables with a hand blender for a smoother consistency.
Add the meat back to the pot and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Serve with pecorino.