The last weekend of summer has finally arrived, finding us packed and ready for yet another road trip to San Francisco to drop our son off at school. The send-off is much more quiet this year since he’s beginning his second year and I guess that makes him experienced. No picnic time at the beach for those of us sporting muffin tops, and no barbeques at home planned for the event, but a few card games at home, movies, and some take out fit the bill. The road trip is a nice way to spend a bit of time together, with my husband and I hovering in the city a couple of days to make sure the man boy has everything he needs. While he’s settling in, we’ll be exploring neighborhoods we’ve never walked through, trying new restaurants, and getting much needed exercise. The one thing about San Francisco we can always count on is that there will be a lot of hills to climb.
For those of you looking forward to pre-season football and last gasp of summer get togethers — or perhaps being stuck in the house due to bad weather — this recipe is for you. Get out that slow cooker because that’s all you’ll need for these Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs. Shred the beef and pile it onto a bun. They’ll make you think you’re having a barbeque no matter what and they’re guaranteed to slide right down.
The good news is, they taste even better the next day, so make a double batch for leftovers.
Something happened to our Sunday dinners this busy season. They’re usually what I manage to hang on to after watching our weeknight dinners dissipate one by one from thoughtful, healthy salads and planned entrees, to a quick forage through the wilted inhabitants of my veggie bin for something to saute with rice or pasta. Throw in some garlic and it’s dinner, right? Hardly, but it can be eaten in a bowl, sometimes as late as 9:30 p.m. while we’re huddled in our dimly lit family room in front of a recorded show and making weary attempts at questioning one another about the day.
It’s no wonder that looking forward to uninterrupted time in the kitchen draws my attention to the weekend where the result is pleasant time together over a meal that is special — read: is served on a plate at a reasonable hour. The idea of “special” seems to be part of a process to me; a recipe catches my eye and lingers on the periphery of the minutiae that accumulates in my head, and somehow I manage to remember the main ingredient while on one of my less than stellarly organized grocery shopping trips. The remembered ingredient is then wedged into my freezer, which just might contain the very same ingredient somewhere in its depths, as a reminder that Sunday dinner is a possibility. Hopefully, this classifies me as an optimist.
Time goes by. Other ingredients are collected in other stop-after-work trips to the store for the cat food or laundry detergent I forgot on the previous trip, and because those ingredients are often perishable, they become part of a different meal (see above). It’s a vicious cycle.
Finally, the day arrives as it does each year. Busy season ends, and glimmers of a normal life surface. The long-awaited day in the kitchen and meal are planned and the big question looms: Will it have been worth the wait?
(And this has nothing to do, of course, with the fact that Chef Voltaggio not only took the time to comment on my effort, but put a shout-out about my speck in the food universe on his site, Voltaggio Brothers in “Food Writing.”)
A gracious and hearty thanks to Michael Voltaggio!
I grew up eating braised meat. I don’t think it mattered what time of year it was, but at some point during each month, and usually on the weekend, my mom would make what she called a roast. Although we don’t have them as frequently, it is something we enjoy.
Essentially, braising involves cooking in liquid — but there’s more to it than just putting a piece of meat in a pot and covering it with water. Well, if you want it to taste satisfying, that is. There are some basic steps to take when braising: 1) Choose the right cut of meat; 2) Brown seasoned meat on all sides in a bit of fat; 3) Brown the aromatics; and 4) Add the liquid and cook low and slow.
At the expense of sounding like Alton Brown without the scowl, all four of the steps I mentioned are very important, and if one of them is left out, then you’ll end up with a grey chunk o’ meat — not very appetizing.
The nice thing about braising is that the best cuts of meat to use are those which are tough — which translates to less expensive. Easy on the wallet. Cheap. They’re all the parts of the animal that get the most exercise. Chuck was my mother’s cut of choice, but a rump or brisket are also great. Short ribs are another perfect choice for braising. They’re squarish cuts of beef that include a portion of bone (ribs, right?) and usually come three to four in a pack depending on their size.
When I think of short ribs, I think of gravy and wide, flat noodles. Completely delicious!