CONGRATULATIONS HEATHER OF THE DEAD ANTS!
Seriously? The very idea of a bottle of syrup with dead ants in it squicked me out so much, I had to pick you. And I once ate a live termite! On purpose!
Heather, please e-mail me your shipping address to staceyballisinfo (at) gmail (dot) com and I will send your prize out.
In the meantime, for the rest of you, a quick couple of really great and easy recipes...THAT WORK!
Charming Suitor and I had another couple over for dinner last weekend, and the main stars were a Thai-Braised Short Rib, and Potato Gratin with Prunes.
The short ribs were inspired by some we got a while back at Charlie Trotter's To Go. I asked the chef for the recipe, and got a vague sense of ingredients, so this is as close as I could approximate. And they are seriously yummy. I really do recommend making these the day before, they taste even better once they have had a chance to merge overnight.
Thai Braised Short Ribs
8 pieces short ribs, bone-in
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, sliced
1-2 pc lemongrass, cut into 2 inch pieces and smashed
½ T Thai chili garlic paste
¼ c peanut oil
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat oil in large Dutch oven. Season short ribs with salt and grains of paradise. Sear short ribs on all sides to deep brown caramelization. Do in batches if necessary. Remove beef from pot, and pour off excess fat. Caramelize onions and carrots in remaining fat in pan. When they have good color, remove to plate with ribs and pour off remaining fat. Squeeze the oranges by hand into a small bowl and dissolve chili paste in the juice. Deglaze pot with juice mixture then turn off heat. Put veggies back in pot, followed by ribs. Nestle smashed lemongrass and orange quarters among the ribs. Add water to the level of the ribs, so that they are barely submerged. Cover and cook in oven 3-4 hours till very tender. Cool to room temp, and then store in fridge.
Heat oven to 350.
Take pot out of oven to come to room temp, and then put in oven to reheat for 45 minutes to an hour. When ready to serve, gently remove ribs and veggies from liquid into a serving dish, and hold to the side. Defat pan juices, then return to pot and heat over high to reduce to desired thickness. Taste for seasoning, then pour over ribs and vegetables.
Once upon a time, CS took a cooking class with the incomparable David Bouley. Apparently throughout the class Bouley kept wistfully referring to a dish his grandmother made, potato gratin with prunes. After five or six mentions, he finally said "Chef! What is the recipe???" The Chef listed a set of ingredients, vague proportions, minimal instructions, and then moved on with the scheduled class. CS scribbled as much of it down as he could, and this recipe is the result.
I know what you are saying.
Really, with the prunes, really?
And to you I say, hell yeah baby. Delish.
I know, I too was very skeptical, I love my potatoes, especially in such a wonderful and creamy preparation, and I even like prunes, but together?
Oh. My. Yes. Please.
The prunes add a subtle sweet caramel richness, and it pairs beautifully with just about any protein...the sweetness is perfect with pork, cuts through the rich spiciness of these short ribs, and elevates a simple roast chicken. Make it. I promise you will be happy.
Bouley Grandmere Potato Gratin with Prunes
3 lbs starchy potatoes, peeled and sliced thin on mandolin
2 leeks, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
2 T flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 c half and half
2 c cream
1 clove garlic
Salt and Pepper
1 c prunes, halved or quartered
1 stick butter
Preheat oven to 350
Rub gratin dish with the cut side of the clove of garlic. Butter the dish liberally with about 2 T of the butter. Saute leeks and scallions in 2 T butter till soft but not browned. Put potatoes in pot and add half and half and cream, the garlic clove, and a good grating of nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes until slightly thickened and potatoes become flexible but not cooked through. Ladle half of the potato mixture into the gratin dish, followed by the leek and scallions and sprinkle the prunes evenly over the top, and then the parsley. Add the rest of the potatoes. Fill with cream and half and half mixture just to the level of the potatoes. Discard the rest. Dot the top of the dish with remaining butter and bake 40 minutes to an hour. Cook till well browned and softened all the way through. Should be creamy, but thick and not soupy. You can hold in a 200 degree oven nearly indefinitely.
Yours in Good Taste,