Beef short ribs great holiday entree to share remotely

Our family always goes big for the holidays. We bake more than 30 kinds of cookies, roast beef and turkey; embrace vegetables and fruity side dishes made by guests; and stock up on wine and spirits. This holiday season, I dreamed of seating 20 guests in our new home. I pictured four tables full of food and friends.
While the pandemic safety precautions mean those tables will go unused, my kitchen will not. I will cook with pleasure for loved ones — wearing a mask and washing hands frequently. Then, I’ll package my expressions of love in small containers to deliver safely to front doors. We can all reheat our holiday meals and eat together on FaceTime.
Successful reheating of all these dishes factors into my menu planning. Few entrees beat beef for festivity.
Plated individually, beef short ribs feel as festive as restaurant fare. The recipe that follows coats the ribs in bold, dark brown sugar, salt and fresh pepper before browning. A slow oven-braise in red wine flavored with balsamic vinegar and earthy Worcestershire renders the ribs tender. Thick slices of carrot and parsnip add sweetness and absorb a bit of the richness.
I encourage you to order the ribs in advance from your local butcher or meat counter. Six English-cut, bone-in, beef short ribs, each 2 to 3 inches thick, weigh about 5 pounds and serve six guests.
Alternatively, you can use the 1 ½-inch to 2-inch thick Flanken-style short ribs; plan on two per person for a main course. (The Korean-style short ribs, typically ¼ to ½ inch thick are not suited here.) Other options include 4-inch boneless chunks of beef chuck or a whole 3 ½- to 4-pound bone-in beef chuck roast. A whole beef brisket works as well, but requires a tad more time in the oven.
To accompany the beef, stir up a batch of instant polenta. Other side dishes can be simple, such as roasted Brussels sprouts or steamed green beans.
Happy 2020 holidays. Stay safe so we can sit at the table together someday soon.
BROWN SUGAR- AND BALSAMIC-BRAISED BEEF SHORT RIBS
Makes: 6 servings
3 medium-large carrots, trimmed, peeled (use multicolored carrots if you have them), about 1 pound
2 or 3 medium parsnips (or more carrots), trimmed, peeled, about 12 ounces
1 large leek, trimmed, halved lengthwise, well rinsed
6 English-cut, bone-in beef short ribs, or 10 to 12 pieces (each 2 inches thick) Flanken-style short ribs, total 5 pounds
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground fresh black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons oil for high-heat cooking, such as expeller-pressed canola oil
6 shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
5 or 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup dry red wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary or ¼ teaspoon dried
2 cups beef broth or chicken or veal stock
3 tablespoons each: Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons flour dissolved in about ¼ cup water
Black pepper polenta, see recipe, optional
Thinly sliced green onions or chives, for garnish
Cut carrots and parsnips on the diagonal into ½-inch-wide slices. Slice white and tender green portions of leek crosswise into ½-inch-wide slices.
Pat the short ribs dry; place in a large shallow pan. Mix brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Coat ribs on all sides with the mixture.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add the oil and then the short ribs in a single, uncrowded layer. (You may have to work in batches.) Brown the short ribs, turning, until golden on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate when ribs are brown.
Working in the same pot, add the leek and shallots. Cook, stirring, to soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Add garlic; cook, 1 minute. Stir in wine; heat to a boil while scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir in carrots, parsnips, thyme, bay leaves and rosemary. Add the broth, Worcestershire and balsamic.
Nestle the short ribs back in the Dutch oven, fatty side up. Cover the pot with a piece of parchment paper or foil and then cover with the lid. Bake, turning meat occasionally, until nearly tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 ½ hours.
Uncover and continue baking until meat is completely fork-tender and liquids have reduced, about 30 minutes. Cool on counter, about 1 hour. Remove ribs carefully with tongs to a food storage container. Remove vegetables from pan juices and store in separate containers. Refrigerate all, tightly covered, up to 3 days.
To serve, heat oven to 375 degrees on convection or 400 degrees on conventional. Put short ribs on a baking sheet and bake until heated through and nicely glazed, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape off and discard the congealed fat from the pan juices. Put the juices and vegetables into a large saucepan and set over medium heat. When hot, stir in the flour-water mixture and cook until juices boil and thicken, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Spoon a piece of the hot crisped polenta onto a serving plate. Top with a spoonful of the vegetables and pan juices. Top with a hot short rib and more sauce. Garnish with green onions and serve.
A flat sided wooden spoon is just the thing to cook polenta. Getty Images
BLACK PEPPER POLENTA
Makes: 6 servings
1 cup instant polenta cornmeal (such as the Colavita brand)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Butter or short rib pan juices, optional
Expeller-pressed canola oil, safflower or sunflower oil
Heat 4 cups water to a boil over high heat in a deep-sided, 2-quart saucepan. Add pepper and salt. Reduce heat to medium. Using a whisk to keep things moving, slowly pour in the polenta. Continue whisking to be sure there are no lumps. Change to a flat-sided wooden spoon; continue to cook and stir over medium-low heat, 5 minutes. The polenta will thicken and bubble and start to pull away from the bottom of the pan. Be careful as spatters are very hot.
Remove from heat. If desired, stir in a tablespoon or 2 of butter or short rib pan juices. Immediately spoon into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and spread to 1-inch thickness. Cool. Refrigerate covered up to 3 days.
3 To serve, flip the polenta out of the container onto a cutting board. Cut into 6 pieces. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Film with a little oil and add the polenta pieces in an uncrowded layer. Cook until golden and crispy, about 2 minutes, flip and crisp the other side. Serve hot.
 

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