February 7 – February 13, 2022
Tuesday: Turkish Chickpea Salad
Wednesday: Fettucine with Asparagus and Prosciutto
Thursday: Rotisserie Chicken with Radishes, Peas, and Gorgonzola Salad
Friday: Salmon Tacos with Pineapple-Chili Salsa
Sunday: Short-Rib Chili with Vegetable Quesadilla
The Weather Made Me Do It
The first order of business is to direct you to the picture of Arlo (above) which was referred to, but somehow omitted, in last week’s posting. I have discovered something that the television networks and regional newspapers figured out long ago – babies and dogs, and, on occasion, cats, sell. If you want to send along some pictures of babies, feel free.
And now, about our cooking:
We have been plying* you with delicious but heavy (meaty) dishes, and some of you are, no doubt, in a snit or a huff, or possibly a huffy snit over this affront to the modern idea of dining.
But the weather remains chilly in Pittsburgh and, what with shoveling the driveway, milking the cows, feeding the chickens and giving the horses their nosebags of oats, we need to eat pretty heartily just to keep up with the chores around here. Our sturdy agricultural ancestors would have expired on a diet of quinoa or wheat grass smoothies. Fasting was also not an option. [The adoption of this practice by modern hypochondriacs – a practice formerly confined to religious ascetics and a good deal of the Irish population during the potato famine – is surely one of the stranger markers of our age. Another would be the adoption of what I call the ‘snot-over’ hair style, in which a young man’s head is shaved, except for a goodly thatch on half of the very top which is then slicked down with what looks to me like Vaseline or ghee and then flopped over. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.]
And now, back to the food. Two Sundays ago, at half-time during a damn fine Super Bowl, Rick, Beez and I dined on short-rib chili. Now, I will eat short ribs in any form except raw (on second thought, I’m willing to try that). But this is a particularly delightful, filling, homey and ‘can I have another bowl of that stuff?’ form of short ribs.
The dish takes some cooking – none of it hard – and a fair amount of time. But, hey, it was Superbowl Sunday. Rick was coming over, Billy and Andrew might have – they clearly had better offers – and what did I have to do but feed the family?
*My lawyer (young Bill) informs me that I can neither be arrested nor sued for plying, since it requires voluntary compliance by the plied-upon party. But those annoying people at the market who pester you to sign up for solar energy panels or to try their latest vegetable chip as you power through the market, head down, trying to gather the items on your list in the shortest possible time – sue them, please.
Short Rib Chili
(adapted from Food & Wine)
Timing: 3 ½ to 4 hours
For the chili:
2 Tbs Canola oil
3 ½ pounds boneless beef short ribs, (trim off the hard fat), cut into 1-inch pieces
5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided – may need more to adjust seasoning
2 ½ teaspoons black pepper, divided – may need more to adjust seasoning
Medium red onion, finely chopped (a bit more than 2 cups)
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped (we used 6)
½ cup tomato paste
¼ cup ancho chile power
2 chipotle chile peppers in adobo, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 ¼ tsp ground coriander
1 ½ cups dry red wine
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
For the garnish:
(Pickled Red Onion)
Small red onion thinly sliced
1 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
2 Tbs granulated sugar
1 Tbs kosher salt
(Optional – we suggest these)
Crumbled queso fresco and cilantro leaves for serving
Trim and cut up short ribs, finely chop red onion (2 ¼ cups), jalapeño, garlic, chipotle chiles and measure out other ingredients.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch Oven (enameled oven, if you have it) over medium-high. While oil is heating, toss the beef with 4 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of black pepper. When oil is hot (it will be rippling and moving in the pot), add the beef in 3 batches and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides – a bit less than 10 minutes per batch. Transfer beef to a bowl with slotted spoon.
Now reduce heat to medium and add the chopped onion, jalapeños, remaining teaspoon of salt and remaining ½ teaspoon of pepper, and then add the garlic to the drippings in the Dutch Oven. Cook, stirring from time to time, until onion is soft and lightly browned (8 minutes or so).
Now stir in tomato paste, chile power, chipotles, oregano, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes – until vegetables are evenly coated.
Add the wine and deglaze (scrape up browned bits from bottom of the pot) until the liquid is reduced a bit – 2 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and the chicken stock (or broth) and bring to a simmer over medium-high, then stir in the beef and the juices in the bowl.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring from time to time, until the beef is very tender – 2 ½ to 3 hours. For final thirty minutes, uncover. Adjust seasonings.
Pickled Red Onions:
Immediately after the whole shebang is in the pot, place the sliced red onion in a medium-size, heat-proof bowl.
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, 1 cup of water, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring often to dissolve the sugar.
Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the onions, pressing them down to keep submerged (or, you can fold 2 paper towels and press down until towels are saturated – this will keep the onions submerged).
Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes and then cover and chill for 1 hour or longer.
Serve chili in bowls topped with queso fresco, cilantro and drained pickled onions, and sour cream.