Braised meat and hot chocolate help get me through the Winter. In the CIA’s American Bounty Restaurant, Chef Roe makes a shredded short rib on soft polenta with mascarpone, capers, and sun dried tomatoes. It is a dish to warm the body and sustain the soul through the bitter months. Since the week’s been grey and Spring is still a distant promise, it’s time to stew.
I browned 2 pounds of short ribs on all sides and prepared my sauce components. Although the standard ratio for mirepoix is 2:1:1 onion, carrot, celery, I prefer a 2:2:1 onion, carrot, celery mix. I like the carrots’ sweet, earthiness, and I’m not convinced that celery has much to contribute. After caramelizing the mirepoix I threw in 1/4 bottle of a decent Syrah, used a wooden spoon to free the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, nestled the meat in, and added enough beef stock to mostly cover the meat along with a bunch of thyme and a bit of garlic.
Once the braise came to a simmer, I let it burp and mingle in the oven for five hours at 225°F. After removing the solids I purified the sauce of pools of shimmering fat, then simmered it down to 1/3 of its original volume.
My friend Lydia, who I met in pre-school when we both had mushroom haircuts and sucked our thumbs, drove from Philadelphia to visit. I whipped some polenta with mascarpone and honey, finished the dish just like chef Roe, and poured the rest of the Syrah. Winter, for once, didn’t seem so bad.