Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dinner Date: Short Ribs and Other Good Stuff

I really should have called this post: "How to impress a date without really working hard," but there's a lot of ways to do that, and frankly, some of them are much more fun than short ribs.  But as far as impressing someone with your cooking prowess, this is totally the way to do it.

The whole dinner was the short ribs served over buttered grits and a grilled beet salad.  But of all of those things, the only thing that really required a recipe was the short ribs, and I'll toss in a dijon vinaigrette for the salad (in case you're the make-your-own-dressing type).  

Beer Braised Short Ribs
note: most of my recipes serve 4, this served two, but it could easily be doubled
1.5 lbs beef short ribs, bone in
olive oil for searing
1 onion, medium size dice
2 bottles of dark beer (I used Long Trail doublebag, but that's only because it's what we had in the house.)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dijion mustard

Preheat the oven to 325
In an oven safe pot with a lid (I used my dutch oven - thanks Rachel Brill!), heat about 2 tbsp olive oil to high heat and then brown the short ribs on the meaty side (this takes about 2 minutes).  Remove the ribs to a plate.

Put the onions in the pot, lower the heat to medium, and cook for a couple of minutes until they begin to brown around the edges.
While the onions are browning, drink some of one of the beers.  Seriously, you only need about 1 3/4 beers for this recipe, and it's a shame for it to go to waste.  If you wanted to go ahead and drink half a beer, that would be ok too.  
Once the onions have started to brown, remove the pot from the heat, pour in what's left of the beer, and stir in the thyme and mustard.  
Put the short ribs back in the pot, cover, and place in the oven and forget about them for about 2 hours 

(this is very forgiving - two hours, two and a half... Just check after about 2 to make sure there's still enough liquid in the pot.  If not, add a little more beer, water, whatever).  
When you're ready to serve, cut the short ribs off the bone and into about 1 inch pieces, and serve with the onions left from the gravy.  

If you want to serve with the grilled beets and grits...

Grilled Beet and Wilted Lettuce Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
1 bunch beets, peeled, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 head romaine lettuce, cut in quarters
6 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the grill to medium high.
Place sliced beets in a grill basket and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil.

These beets were stripey.  And delicious.

Grill, turning occasionally, about 30 minutes

As they're grilling, make the dressing by combining the rest of the oil, vinegar and mustard.

Right before you're ready to serve dinner, spray each of the quartered romaine heads with cooking spray, and place on the grill for 2 minutes.  
Remove from the grill, plate the lettuce and beets, and drizzle with the dressing.

I'm not going to tell you how to make grits.  Buy a container of instant grits.  Cook them according to the directions on the box (although I do prefer to cook them a little more slowly and covered, but that's only because it's more forgiving, timewise).  Stir in a little butter at the end of the cooking.  

Top with the short ribs, serve with the beet salad, and realize that something that took two hours of mostly hands off cooking can be eaten in about 10 minutes.

This picture is upside down.  No idea how that happened.

Dining al fresco.  

Which leaves you a lot of time for the rest of your date...

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