Thursday, January 28, 2010

Short Ribs Briased in Chimay Ale

Most of the time, I think New York City has a perfect climate. We have four distinct seasons,

With days like last Wednesday - 37 degrees with lots of sun and a bright blue sky,

when all you need to keep toasty and warm outside is a down coat, hat, gloves and leather boots - even winter is perfect. And when the temperature drops down to single digits and turns bitterly cold, as it did two weeks ago, there are compensations, such as, being the perfect weather for

Zuni's Short Ribs Braised in Chimay Ale.

I was going upstate for the weekend and thinking of making something comforting like beef brisket

or stew

because the temperature there had dropped below zero, when I got the following chat from Christopher.

Run, don't walk, to your bookshelf and then kitchen and make the Zuni Short Ribs Braised in Chimay Ale. Unbelievable! A wonderful winter weekend meal...

That's advice I wasn't about to ignore.

On my way out of town, I stopped at the Harlem Fairway where I was faced with three different types of Chimay Ale and didn't know which one to get so I called my office and asked someone to check it out in the copy of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook that I keep there. The picture of the dish in the book shows Chimay Rouge, described in Wikipedia as a dark brown ale with a sweet, fruity aroma and a nutty character, so that's what I got.

Since my freezer is always stocked with the elixir that is Zuni chicken stock,

I left the Fairway parking lot all set.

Apparently, there are three ways short ribs are cut,



and Zuni shows a picture of the ones the grocery store down the street calls flanken.


But I didn't know that until I got home with my groceries from Fairway and realized I had the wrong ones (Two instead of Three). Since they were meat from the same part of the animal - just cut across the bones a different way - I went ahead with the recipe.

The first thing I did was to cut the fat off the short ribs, following Judy Rodgers' admonition to leave the silverskin behind because it helps keep the meat succulent, and rendered it according to Carol's instructions at Alinea at Home.

Why would I do such a thing?

My grandfather in New York was a butcher, and the beef cuts he preferred to roast were eye round and rump, not rib. Consequently, I don't have much of a taste for prime rib so I never have sizzling fat drippings from my roasts. Now I have a little jar of perfectly rendered beef fat stashed in the freezer

to make a proper Yorkshire pudding the next time I make a roast beef dinner!

Then because I didn't have two days to salt the meat in advance, which Judy Rodgers recommends, I salted the short ribs and left them at room temperature for about an hour so they wouldn't be cold when I started to cook them.

Other than that, I followed the recipe to the letter.

I browned the short ribs in a mild French olive oil, then added sliced onions, bay leaf, whole white peppercorns, reconstituted dried porcini mushrooms, Zuni chicken stock, and the Chimay Ale. The short ribs simmered in a covered pot for about 2 hours.

I uncovered the pan and, in accordance with Judy Rodgers' clever instruction, let it rest tilted at a slight angle for a few minutes so the fat would collect on one side and be easy to skim off.

I tasted the gravy and added a little salt and simmered it uncovered for a few minutes to reduce it a slightly.

Then I smeared the tops of the short ribs with Dijon mustard

Edmond Fallot Dijon Mustard - the Mustard Recommended by Thomas Keller

and placed the pan under a preheated broiler for about 5 minutes. As Judy Rodgers said would happen, the mustard browned, and the surface of the stew glazed.

When it came out of the oven, the braise smelled better than the best French onion soup I ever ate. It was the perfect recipe to make on a cold winter's day.

The dish was delicious and surprisingly rich. I served it with buttered, not browned, spaetzle, green beans, and a tart escarole salad, which was a good foil for the braised meat and sweet onions.

Before the Gravy was Added

After the Gravy with Onions was Added

After tasting the Chimay Rouge, I agreed with Judy Rodgers' description of it as having "a delicate sweetness, a touch of clove flavor, and only the faintest note of bitterness." It was obviously a good choice of what to drink with the meal in the middle of winter, and I had enough of it left in the bottle for two small glasses.

By the way, when I started to cook, I took the wire cage - apparently called a muselet - off the top of the Chimay bottle and turned around for a minute. Boom. It popped right off so be careful not to leave it unattended and be sure not to aim the bottle in anyone's direction when you remove the cage.

After dinner, I took the leftovers and stripped the meat from the bones, shredded it, and saved it in its gravy. The next night I heated it up, and we ate it

with the leftover spaetzle - browned in butter this time.

It was just as good, if not better, the second time around - but what I was really dreaming about was using the shredded meat to stuff ravioli and serve it with the gravy saucing the pasta pillows. I think it would be so good that I'm going to make the recipe again just to try that!

Now I'm looking forward to trying another Zuni short ribs recipe - the Pot-au-Feu.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs

I live in New York City. Good bread is one block away. GREAT bread is five blocks away. The place where I get sandwiches for lunch uses bread from Jim Lahey's Sullivan Street Bakery. For goodness sake, I can GO to Sullivan Street Bakery.

On my way out of town on Friday nights, I stop at the 131st Street Fairway to shop. I usually buy a loaf of Bread Alone's delicious Whole Grain Health Bread made with organic ingredients, and I eat a piece as part of Sunday morning breakfast - two slices of Sunday Morning Bacon, one poached egg, and a slice of toast

buttered and spread with Swedish orange and elderflower marmalade from Ikea.

So in 2006 when Mark Bittman wrote his article in the New York Times about Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread, I read it, emailed it to myself, and put it in my Recipes to Try folder. I wanted to make it, but it wasn't urgent. It was just there waiting for when I got around to it.

What was I thinking?

That is a picture of the loaf of bread I made last Sunday. Did you hear me? A loaf of bread I made following Jim Lahey's specific instructions in My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method.

It's especially thrilling because not only was it fantastic, now when I'm in the country for more than three days, I don't have to rely on bread I have stowed away in the freezer. In about one minute flat, I can put together ingredients that will rise for 12 to 18 hours in a bowl, then be turned onto a towel to rise for two hours more,

get plopped in the oven, and 45 minutes later emerge as a glorious golden/brown loaf with a serious crust.

When I tasted the first piece of my own bread, I knew The Zuni Cafe Cookbook recipe Kate at Savour-Fare turned me on to would be my next recipe.

And it was.

Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs
Eggs, Page 179

I sliced a piece of my own bread, cut off the crusts, and blasted it in my small food processor

to make the requisite bread crumbs.

I put the bread crumbs into my carbon steel skillet, sprinkled them with a little Maldon Salt crushed with my fingers. I drizzled the salted crumbs with a little olive oil and heated them.

As soon as the bread crumbs started to color, I washed a fresh egg, dried it, and broke it into the skillet.

I don't like my eggs over easy, so I clapped the lid from a six-quart pot on top of the egg

so the white would cook, and the yolk would stay soft.

I gilded the lily and put the egg with the bread crumbs over Spaghettini Aglio Olio. Since the linguine had garlic and parsley in it, I didn't use the optional thyme, marjoram, or rosemary. For the same reason, I also eliminated the balsamic vinegar step, but it sure does sound good.

An Egg Fried in Bread Crumbs over Spaghettini Aglio Olio with Escarole Salad

Sylvano snoozed through the whole recipe!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Best Turkey

A Zuni Extra

Although I love Thanksgiving, the holiday, I am not equally enamored of the traditional feast. Turkey once a year is too much turkey for me. In the oh-so-many years since I have been keeping my own house, I can count - not quite on ten fingers, but almost - the number of Thanksgiving turkeys I've actually cooked.

My favorite Thanksgiving dinner was in 2004, the year I made Shrimp Creole.

My right hand was in a cast that year because I had broken my wrist mountain biking. There was no way I could have carried a turkey home, let alone gotten one in and out of the oven. But I could stir roux and peel shrimp, and with the one exception of having to find a store that was open on Thanksgiving morning so I could buy an electric can opener (since I hadn't figured out that you can't use a regular can opener with a broken wrist - duh), the meal went off without a hitch.

But last year I won a free-range turkey from my market and decided to try my luck with it. Since it was delicious, I decided I would do it again.

Except this year I would make my turkey the same way I make my chicken. The Zuni way.

As it turned out, I wasn't the only one. Kate over at Savour-Fare had the same idea. I always enjoy reading her posts, but when she posted about making cannoli cream as a topping for fruit from Richard Sax's book, Classic Home Desserts, and pointed out that she had never liked cannolis until she had one at Rocco's on Bleecker Street, I knew she was a girl after my own heart.

I got a 13 pound free-range turkey, washed it, dried it, and salted it all over with Kosher salt. I put it breast-side down on a rack in the refrigerator, turning it over, breast side up, after a day and a half, for a total resting time of 3 days.

We left the City early Wednesday morning with the dry-brining turkey in a cooler and stopped at Fairway to get everything else, which included clams to make pasta for dinner that night.

Thanksgiving morning dawned warm and sunny. It was the first Thanksgiving that I woke up in the country to green grass with no frost on the ground.

There was still parsley in the garden.

Good news for cooks; bad news for Jiminy Peak skiers.

Late that morning I put fresh sage and thyme under the turkey's skin since those are the herbs I use in my dressing and let the bird come to room temperature. I don't have a cast-iron skillet large enough to hold a 13-pound bird, so I used the bottom of my All-Clad 13-inch braiser.

I heated the pan on top of the stove, then rubbed a little canola oil on the bottom of the pan with a paper towel, and let that heat up too. I put the turkey in the pan breast-side up and slipped it into a preheated 450-degree oven and cooked it for 55 minutes. Then I took the pan out of the oven and flipped the turkey over, breast-side down, cooking it that way for 35 minutes. Finally I flipped it right side up again and cooked it for 20 minutes more. Using Kate's suggested cooking time of 8 minutes per pound, the total cooking time was 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The turkey was beautiful, fragrant, and brown. I let it rest for 30 minutes before I carved it into slices. I wasn't planning on making gravy, but the unexpected bonus was that there were abundant juices from the turkey in the pan. I heated them on top of the stove and whisked in a slurry made from Wondra flour, a little water, and some of the juices to temper it. It didn't need any salt, and the color was rich even after the slurry was added. I talked Walter into continuing to whisk it with this,

which I got at E.Dehillerin when I was in Paris, while I got the rest of the meal together.

Side dishes were cold broccoli dressed with a lemon/olive oil dressing, sweet potatoes pureed with maple syrup, Molly Steven's Brussels sprouts braised with heavy cream, and dressing made with country bread, sausage, fennel, leeks, shallots, carrots, celery, mushrooms, golden raisins, sage, and thyme.

Dessert was a Marion Cunningham recipe for spicy gingerbread and vanilla ice cream,

the perfect ending to this meal - better than pumpkin or pecan pie in my book any day.

I was so busy getting my meal on the table that I didn't snap pictures as I went along. But you can see Kate's beautiful bird here, and you can see my leftovers.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

P.S. I'm making Shrimp Creole for dinner tonight.

Sylvano in the City

Friday, July 10, 2009

Raffle Winner

Good Friday morning.

The winner of the raffle and the soon-to-be owner of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook is


So, Katty, please send an email to me at and let me know to whom and where I should have the book sent. I'm planning on ordering it directly from Amazon, so a street address rather than a post office box is better for U.P.S.; however, since Amazon also uses the USPS, I think a post office box will do too.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do. I know you will enjoy the Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad,

the Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, as well as steamed potatoes with Four-Minute Egg Gribiche (to name a few).

Happy cooking and good eating.