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 to don a down coat, woolen hat, lined 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, its 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

Beef 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 so that's what I got.

Please note that when I was getting ready to cook with it, I removed the wire cage and started to open the bottle, 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.

Since my freezer was stocked with  Zuni chicken stock,

I left the Fairway parking lot thinking I was 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.

When it came out of the oven, the braise smelled better than the best French onion soup I ever ate, 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. I agreed with Judy Rodgers' description of the Chimay Ale 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, after using it to cook with, I had enough of it left in the bottle for two small glasses.

It was the perfect meal for a cold winter's day,


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Michaela at The Gardener's Eden said...

It looks like someone is having a lot of fun... and I don't mean Sylvano, (though he clearly feels his needs should be placed in the work basket).

Happy Sub-Zero Windchill Friday...

red ticking said...

YUM... great post. happy to have found your blog...

Sprout said...

This blog .... what a great idea! I just got the Zuni Cafe cookbook, and I have to admit it looks a little daunting. It'll be nice to have your blog as a supplement as I embark on my own Zuni journey.

Thanks for sharing!

Victoria said...

Hi, Sprout,

Don't be daunted by this wonderful book. Read through the beginning. You will find it interesting.

There are plenty of easy recipes. Try the Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and the Pasta alla Carbonara - both delicious and easy.

And now that spring actually seems to be peeking around the corner (at least here in NYC), I must point out that the four-Minute Egg Gribiche made the best potato salad I have ever had.

the twins said...

love your blog! i live pretty close to zuni (when i'm not away at school), and i've still never been there.