Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gourmet taste on a real world budget.

I have decided to take a break from my vacation and share a great summer dinner with you. As much as I love wine, I have bored myself silly with the wine sad! Guess its more fun to drink than write about. When I continue my journey through wine country, I will be making some changes to the writing style!

Short Ribs are one of my absolute favorite pieces of meat, especially in the summer when my crock pot is in full swing! Short ribs braised in red wine until falling apart and served with herb stuffed
Artichokes …oh my, can you get more Gourmet?! Well yes you could, by serving itty bitty portions and charging an arm and a leg! We are not doing that today, we are having reasonable portions at Costco (cheep) prices, lets do this!
Now I am serving only two people and mostly eyeballed the measurements, and since this is all about what you like use your judgment. Very importantly you must start this process early! The longer you can let the short ribs cook the better!
For the Short ribs, I bought boneless, they seem to have more meat on them and really that is what we are after. I am sure the bone in kind have more flavor, but they also seem to be a lot more work for not much reward.

2-3 medium to large garlic cloves
1 large shallot sliced
1 large sprig of rosemary
½ cup vegetable broth or stock
Beef stock ( I used the packet from Trader Joe's and mixed it with the veggie stock)
1 bottle of red wine, use one that is full bodied with lots of flavor. I used Shiraz and I went with cheep.
Season the short ribs with sea salt and black pepper and seared it quickly in a hot pan with olive oil.

Set the ribs aside, and in the same pan on medium heat saute Garlic just smashed with the side of a large knife. Add the shallot and stir this on medium until they are slightly caramelized I feel this just adds a bit more depth to the flavor. Add to the pan ½ a cup vegetable stock and beef stock to de glaze the pan (getting all the good stuck on bits). Pour this mixture into the crock pot and place the ribs on top, throw in the rosemary sprig and pour in the red wine. Use the entire bottle or all but one glass…the cook needs a glass after all!
Set the crock pot on low and let cook for at LEAST 8 hours. Go run errands, lay by the pool, clean the house or just sit and watch TV…and as the hours go by the house will smell better and better!

When you decide you can not take the great smells any longer, pull the short ribs out of the liquid and place on a platter, and cover. Smack anyone who tries to snack on it before you serve them, you of course being the chef should definitely do some quality control… Pour the liquids into a sauce pan straining out the chucks (onions and garlic). Simmer until it is reduce by ½ and ideally coats the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat.

(45 minutes-1 hour before meal time start Artichokes)
Artichokes, as we have discussed are also a favorite of mine, this time I decided to try something new. I decided to de-choke the artichoke and stuff it with a herb and olive oil stuffing (pretty much like pesto). It looked absolutely beautiful before cooking and delish after, even if I did over cook it a bit…it was falling apart! But since my guy loves his vegetables on the verge of becoming soup he was ecstatic! Maybe I started on the wine too soon…Just kidding!
The stuffing included (not sure how much of each, that whole no measuring thing again!)
Garlic maybe 3 cloves
Rosemary about 4-5 stems worth of leaves
Basil about 1/2 cup-ish
Olive oil couple swirls
Salt and
a pinch...
Blended in my hand mini food processor.
Cut the tops of the artichokes off so that the spikes are removed. Using a long pointy knife cut out the light purple leaves at an angle. Pull out as many leaves as you can scrape out the remaining leaves with a spoon, get all the fur (choke) out and rinse. If you are doing a lot of artichokes and want to keep them from turning brown while you work just drop them in an ice bath with some lemon juice and water. Try to spread the leaves out as much as possible and drizzle the pesto mixture between the leaves and into the middle of the artichoke. Press the leaves back together and place in a steamer. Two medium to large artichoke cook in about 45 minutes on low to med low. After about 30 minutes test to see if the leaves pull off easily. When they come of with a slightly firm tug, turn off the heat and take the lid off. They will continue to cook a bit and unless you like your veggies mushy you want to slow the cooking down.

Serve the short ribs with the reduced red wine sauce drizzled over the top, or in my case poured over, I am a huge fan of sauce! Artichokes on the side are good alone or with your favorite dipping sauce. Of course this would not be a gourmet meal with out a big red wine! A Cabernet from Chile was this winos choice, at Trader Joe's this wine is $10. Chile makes great Cabernet's and this was no exception, with bold flavors of dark chocolate and a hint of leather and earth it was excellent with the Short ribs and paired well with the rosemary and basil on the artichoke.

In the winter when you need to heat up the house this could be made in the oven and be paired with mashed potatoes, but it is summer and I am thinking the oven is on vacation until further notice.

Bon Appetite!

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