You know how once in a while, you have something so good, so mouthwateringly delectable, so very scrumptious, that you really just want to jump right onto your plate?
Now, as much as I wanted to be covered in this puddle of polenta, while it might be quite good for the skin, isn't exactly quite as fantastic as devouring this silky polenta slathered with beef short ribs, cooked to tender oblivion.
And I hate to say it.
But it IS easy. And you'll be the marvel of all who even are fortunate enough to get a whiff.
Plus, this makes a lot of food, so you might not have to lift a finger for at least another meal or two.
A rich plate of meaty and cheesy goodness deserves a green salad. This one had a lemon, olive oil, and garlic vinaigrette. I topped it off with some walnuts, and some grated grana padano. It was a tough decision, but I had to save a little bit from the cheesy polenta.
Now, onto the short ribs.
Like I said, they are easy. But... they do take awhile. The good thing is that you won't be slaving in the kitchen, just everyone will think that you did. Oh darn!
The hardest part is finding beef short ribs if you never have before. Never fear, you will find them. You can get them at most grocery stores.
YES, they look fatty. That is what makes them good. Actually, freaking great.
Again, don't worry, some of it will be scooped off. The rest will make you happy. And the rest is why you have the green salad.
Now, first you are going to make a simple tomato sauce. You can make it on the stove, sure. But it's easier if you virtually plop everything in the pot and cook it overnight in the oven. Less fussing.
Then, wrap a cookie sheet in aluminum foil. Place a rack on top. Put the short ribs on top of that. Like I said, it's easy right? Turn on the broiler in the oven. Brown the short ribs.
Finally, put them in the pot with the tomato sauce, and cook until the bones fall out of the short ribs, and you are sure that if anyone toothless dined with you, that even they wouldn't have to chew.
Beef Short Ribs with Polenta
2-28 oz cans of whole plum tomatoes (or approximately 8 cups)
extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp ground fennel seeds
2 tsp dried oregano
large pinch chili flakes
1 clove of garlic
3-4 pounds of beef short ribs (approximately 8 short ribs, more or less)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees F.
2. In a deep-sided sauté pan, or dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Chop the onion, and brown it in the oil, 5-7 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from heat, and add the tomatoes with their juices, fennel seeds, oregano, chili flakes, and a teaspoon of salt, and a few twists of pepper. Place in the oven. Let it go overnight, or all day. As you prefer.
4. To make the tomato sauce, add in a peeled clove of garlic (or two), and purée with either a hand blender or in the blender, when cool. Taste, and adjust for seasonings. It is best if it is quite spicy from the chili flakes, do not fear! The flavour will cook into the short ribs, and become less pungent.
5. Pre-heat the broiler to high heat, and arrange the oven rack closer to the top of the oven, probably the second rung from the top. To brown the short ribs, cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil to catch the drippings. Place a rack (perhaps a cookie cooling rack) on the top, and arrange the short ribs on it. Sprinkle with salt. Place 4-5 inches underneath the broiler.
6. Allow the ribs to brown, and become crispy before using tongs to flip the ribs to an alternate side. Approximately 10-12 minutes.
7. Add the short ribs to the tomato sauce, and cover with a lid. Simmer on the stove until the meat easily falls away from the bones, approximately 3-4 hours, you can't cook this too long. Do keep an eye on it, and stir occasionally. Keep the heat low enough that the tomato sauce will not burn. Skim and remove some of the oil when as it separates and floats to the top. When the meat is tender, remove the bones, and tear the meat into smaller pieces. Taste, and check for seasoning.
Cheesy Puddle of Polenta
6 cups water
2 teaspoons of salt
1 3/4 cups cornmeal
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup grated grana padano cheese
1/2 cup grated fontina
1. First, if your cornmeal is of a very fine grind, then these amounts will work, otherwise, if you cornmeal is stone ground with a larger kernel, then use 5 cups of water. Alternatively, read the package directions.
2. Bring the water to a boil in a medium-size saucier, or stockpot. Add the salt. Lower the temperature to medium-low. Add the polenta, and whisk, whisk, whisk. Continue to do so until the mixture is quite thick.
3. Remove from heat, and stir in the butter, then the cheeses. Serve immediately.