My brother was in town visiting us for Christmas, so Matt and I decided to throw a dinner party to welcome him to Los Angeles. I knew I wanted to go big or go home and when you're in that frame of mind, there are only a few places to turn. Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques is one such place. And this time, I was going for a whole menu:
Blood Oranges, Dates, Parmesan, and Almonds Salad
Braised Beef Short Ribs with Potato Purée, Swiss Chard and Horseradish Cream
Jodi's Jessica's Favorite Meyer Lemon Tart with a Layer of Chocolate
Check it out.Lucques' version:
(If you look closely, you can see that there are some greens under all that meat.)
Sometimes the difficulty in a recipe doesn't lie in the intricacy or unfamiliarity of the steps and techniques, but the timing, and by timing, I mean: how do you fit in braising short ribs for three hours when the dinner you've decided to host starts at 8 and you work until 6:30? OK, so you braise it the day before. But before you braise, you must marinate your short ribs overnight. And before you do any of this, you've got to figure out what the ef short ribs are.
Let me preface the following by saying that I don't eat a lot of meat. Thus, I don't cook a lot of meat, and despite Googling short ribs, I still had no idea what they were or what they really looked like. This is me explaining to Matt what to pick up at the grocery store: "So they look like this [I show him the above Lucques' version of the short ribs]. And I think they are basically like three rounds of meat stuck together sort of like a spine or something." Dear other people like me: see below. Those cubes of meat pictured below? Those are what short ribs look like. By the way, Matt got a super helpful lecture about short ribs by the butcher at Whole Foods--he even got to go behind the counter and into the meat zone. I can only imagine the confusion in the butcher's eyes as Matt told him that he was looking for "short ribs. You know, like three rounds of meat stuck together sort of like a spine or something."
After searing the meat on all three meaty sides, peeling pearl onions, and making the braising liquid from the fat, red wine, port and vegetables, it's time for the three-hour braise. The recipe called for a braising dish, but as I didn't have one of those, I used my jumbo cast-iron dutch oven and I think that was OK, though maybe the liquid was a little too high?
NOTE: our apartment never smelled so good as during those three hours of braising.
24 hours later, things got fat.
At first, I was shocked at all of that solidified meat grease, but then, I found it pretty easy and pretty satisfying chipping into it with a fork and scooping it all out. All that was left was putting together the salad, finishing the ribs off in the oven and sauteeing the swiss chard.
Here is brother and sister toiling away in the kitchen. It should(n't?) be noted that Bill checks up on the blog about as much as our mom. WTF, family?
Other things made ahead of time: horseradish cream and potato purée. Both delicious.
All in all, I think it was a success. The meat was super tender and delicious, but did seem a little fatty to me, though I've been told that this might just be because I'm not used to eating a lot of meat. But if I were to do this again, I think I would trim the short ribs a bit or be sure to skim off even more of the fat from the braising liquid. I'm not sure. Ideas?
Also, if you do try this at home, don't skip the horseradish cream. It's super simple to make and really works with the short rib. As for the potato purée? It was great, but in my opinion could be substituted for any mashed potato variation.
And if you can believe it, all of this was topped off with the meyer lemon tart with the genius, thin layer of chocolate. A truly special dessert. Thanks, Jodes!
Amelia and Bill. 1985. Pittsburgh, born and braised.
One more thing. Thanks to all our dinner guests for coming: Angela, Jordan, Rayanne, Ricky, and Brian K.! Unfortunately, Tino couldn't make it. :(