Food & Wine Fridays: Anne’s Braised Beef Short Ribs

Anne's Beef Braised Ribs - 1

I love braised beef short ribs with big red wine. There is nothing better. Here is my way of doing it. I usually make way too much sauce so I have extra for a pasta dinner on another night. I usually allocate 1 meaty rib per person, but I make a lot extra just in case someone wants seconds.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 really meaty beef short ribsAnne's Beef Braised Ribs - 12
  • 2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-6 ounces finely diced pancetta (Italian bacon)
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 3 ribs celery finely diced
  • 3 carrots finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2.5 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup canned plum tomatoes finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a large cast iron dutch oven and add the vegetable oil.
  2. Season the ribs well with salt and pepper.
  3. Brown the ribs on all sides.  Remove from the pot and set aside the browned ribs.
  4. In the hot pot, sautee the pancetta.
  5. Add the onion to the pot and sweat until translucent. Add the celery and the carrots cooking until tender. Toss in the garlic and sautee for a minute.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the wine and scrape down the bottom of the pan to get all of the tasty brown bits.
  7. Reduce the wine by half and then add the stock.
  8. Reduce the cooking liquid some more and then add the tomatoes. Ribs - 3
  9. Return the ribs to the pot and add the herbs. You can finish braising the ribs on the stove top for 3 hours on a low simmer or you can put the whole pot into a heated 350 degree oven and cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is super tender.
  10. After the meat is cooked, remove the ribs and keep warm. Skim any excess fat or foam off the surface of the cooking liquid.
  11. Reduce the cooking liquid to the desired thickness. I like to leave the sauce chunky, but you can always blend some of it to make is smoother.
  12. Season to taste. Ribs 4

There are a few ways to serve the ribs and the sauce. You could make soft polenta and serve a rib on the polenta with a ladle of sauce. You could be very traditional and serve the sauce on pasta as a first course followed by the ribs with roasted potatoes and braised greens as the second course. I prefer to go “Fred Flintstone” style and serve the rib, bone and all, but you can always remove the meat from the rib and serve in pretty slices. Enjoy with a hearty Cabernet like the Silver Oak!

The Wayward Zin has come home…

PicMonkey Collage
What did Zinfandel really want to be? Before the late 1960’s, California was all about cheap dessert wines- White Port, Tokay, Sauternes (skid road sweet wines). Only a handful of producers made varietal wines and they were largely limited to Chardonnay (then called Pinot Chardonnay) and Cabernet Sauvignon. When the first varietal revolution began in the late 1960’s, Zinfandel was in the mix. Ridge Vineyards produced their first Geyserville in 1966. Then Zinfandel took a strange turn and White Zinfandel, a semi-sweet blush wine took center stage. In the next varietal revolution (circa 1973), Zinfandel regained its position as an ultra-premium varietal and high quality producers introduced some of America’s greatest Zinfandels ever. The class of 1973 was remarkable and clearly put the varietal on the map. But its place in the world marketplace was met with mixed results. Old World fans and many in the restaurant trade decried the high alcohol of the wines (pushing 16%) and the world returned to the tried and true: Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. These were classic red wine varietals that would never become high octane monsters. Zinfandel was pushing its power and ripeness and bringing in a little heat along with it.

At the most recent ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) week, this past January, the organization put on the Zinfandel Experience to show the world Zinfandel as it is today and where it is going in the future. I participated in a trade/media and consumer event at ZAP, tasted over 120 wines (many more than once), spoke with vintners and consumers. The playing field has changed. The wines, though high in alcohol, were balanced and delicious. Vintners were passionate about producing wines that tasted great and were true to their AVA’s (American Viticultural Area). Upscale consumers were excited and enjoying the wines. On the trade/media panel I commented that alcohol should not influence you either way on how you will or not like a wine, it is all about balance and how it tastes. As I talked with the public, they were passionate, coherent and thrilled at the state of Zinfandel today.

I enjoyed so many wines at the tastings. Here are three in my top group that are available at Wine.com. The easy and super-rich ’12 Cline Ancient Vines is a perfect match with grilled pork ribs – but make sure the sauce is not too spicy. The sophisticated and red-fruited ’12 Ravenswood Dickerson calls for oven baked roast pork, with a savory red wine reduction sauce. The classic and brambly ’12 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine will pair well with a rosemary-accented leg of lamb. It is time to recognize that Zinfandel has come home and is waiting to pair with a fine meal with family and friends.

Happy Homemade Soup Day!!!

Soup is one of the most satisfying and simple meals. Easy to make, it’s possible to have fresh homemade soup anytime, even on a weeknight. Here are a few recipes with some easy short cuts. Add some warm French bread, a big salad, and a lovely glass of wine, and you have a feast for a king.

 

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle SoupThis is a staple in my house. I always have individual portions in the freezer for a quick lunch or dinner. A few pro tips…. When you roast chicken for dinner, always make 2. Cooked chicken is always great to have on hand for soup. It’s great to make a big pot of chicken stock once a month. You can keep it in the freezer for a quick soup anytime. I always have frozen peas on hand for soups or rice pilaf.

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts homemade stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 2 cups dried noodles or pasta… my favorite is ditalini
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Sweat the onion in butter until translucent. A pinch of salt will help with that.
  3. Add the carrot and celery and cook until tender.
  4. Add the stock, dried herbs, and chicken and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the noodles or pasta and cook until al dente.
  6. Finish with the peas and cook until they are heated through.

Wine Pairings:

 

 

Turkey Orzo Soup

Turkey OrzoI don’t wait for Thanksgiving. I roast turkey all year long. It’s great for soups, sandwiches, and casseroles. I love this soup with its touch of lemon to brighten the flavors. If you don’t have turkey, it’s great with turkey, too. Pro tip: if you are making homemade stock, use turkey necks for flavor and extra richness.

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts homemade stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or lemon thyme if available…1-2 sprgs of fresh is perfect
  • 2 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 1 and a half cups orzo
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Zest of 1 lemon and lemon wedges for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Sweat the onion in butter until translucent.
  3. A pinch of salt will help with that.
  4. Add the carrot and celery and cook until tender.
  5. Add the stock, dried herbs, and turkey and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the orzo and cook until al dente.
  7. Finish with the peas and lemon zest, and cook until they are heated through.
  8. Serve with lemon wedges.

Wine Pairings:

 

 

Mushroom and Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley SoupThis is a very versatile soup which can be totally vegan for your meatless Monday or rich and beefy. Making vegetable stock is a great way to use those vegetables in the fridge, which may no longer be party fresh of for the meat eaters, left over roast beef makes a great addition to the soup.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 quarts homemade beef or vegetable stock or low sodium broth
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic mashed and chopped finely
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms (classic button or mixed)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup cubed cooked roast beef (optional)
  • 1 cup barley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped green onion and sour cream for garnish (optional)

 Directions:

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Sweat the onion in butter until translucent. A pinch of salt will help with that.
  3. Add the carrot and celery and cook until tender.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook until dry.
  5. Add the stock, dried herbs, and roast beef (optional) and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the barley and cook until tender.
  7. Salt and lots of black pepper to taste.
  8. Finish bowls with chopped green onion and a dollop of sour cream.

Wine Pairings:

Garnacha! An education

041 EL CIERZOGarnacha, also known as Grenache, is one of the world’s oldest and most widely planted wine grapes. Due to its long growing season and affinity for heat, it is the perfect Mediterranean grape. It has proliferated from its ancient homeland in Aragon to as far as Lebanon in the East, most of North Africa and throughout most of the new world. It’s luscious, fruity, intense and very diverse. Although most Garnacha is used to create blends – think Chateauneuf-du-Pape – it is starting to come into its own as a varietal wine, ready to take the worldstage with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

A grape for all occasions, Garnacha encompasses red, white, rosé, and sweet styles. The grape is very expressive with a wide range of aromas depending on its originating terroir. Red Garnacha wines are fruit forward, lush and soft on the palate, with a good balance between sweetness, acidity and tannins. Key aromas and flavors include red fruit and spices. Garnacha rosé delivers aromas of strawberries, rose flowers and a sweet berry finish; these wines are perfect for hot weather. White Garnacha produces white wines that can range in style from fresh and mineral-driven to rich and lush.

In Spain, as a result of great attention to terroir, major investment in quality, modern winemaking techniques, and old vineyards, a new generation of winemakers is producing Garnacha wines of exceptional character and concentration. We’re pretty excited about what they are doing! 

The 5 most important P.D.O. (Protected Designations of Origin) for Garnacha in Spain are Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano, and the eponymous Terra Alta.

Calatayud is known for its high altitude, rugged terrain and a rich variety of soils. These impressive natural conditions produce a diversity of high quality Garnacha wines.

Campo de Borja is known as the self-proclaimed “The Empire of Garnacha.” It was the first to explore and fully develop the concept of modern varietal Garnacha wines, and produces some of the most renowned examples in the world.

Cariñena is the oldest P.D.O. in the region of Aragon. Known as “El Vino de las Piedras” (“The Wine of the Rocks”) for its rocky and compact soil that holds water exceptionally well, Cariñena is also the largest of the P.D.O.s, with 14,513 hectares of vineyards and 1,600 growers.

Somontano has positioned itself as a producer of “luxury” wines since it became one of Spain’s most modern P.D.O.s in 1984. It has been a pioneer in taking a New World, varietal approach to wine production. Although only about 5%
of the vineyards are currently planted with Garnacha, the region is committed to the varietal and expects to double plantings over the next few years.

Terra Alta is the white Garnacha specialist. It became a P.D.O. in 1982 and produces around 80% of all the white Garnacha in Spain.

It should noted that Garnacha can also be fortified (as it often is in Australia and in the vins doux naturels of Roussillon), for delicious Port-like wines.

Pick up some Garnacha today to see why this is a fantastic, and affordable, varietal wine!

Great Toasts for Momentous Occasions

This is my birthday week, which is likely why I’ve been craving Champagne, my favorite thing to drink in times of celebration.  The best way to kick off a celebration of any sort is a toast.  While toasting as a social drinking activity is almost always a good idea, obviously some toasts are more appropriate in certain situations than others.  In my experience, toasts start off nice, usually witty, and become more sentimental or raunchy as the night continues, predictably melding into some amusing hybrid of the two.

What follows are some toasts I’ve picked up or overheard at dinners and parties.  Feel free to add any of these to your party-going toolkit to impress, amuse, or occasionally embarrass your friends and family!

May friendship, like wine, improve as time advances.  And may we always have old wine, old friends, and young cares.

May you always have a clean shirt, a clear conscience and enough money in your pocket to buy a glass of Pinot Noir…on your birthday and every day!

Cool, friendly, clever, handsome… but enough about me. Here’s a birthday toast to you!

There’re big ships, there’re small ships, there’re ships that sail the sea.  But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be!

Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends!

I used to know a clever toast, But now I cannot think of it.  So fill your glass to anything, And bless your souls, I’ll drink it!

May we get what we want, but never what we deserve.

Here’s to those who’ve seen us at our best and seen us at our worst, and can’t tell the difference!

May all your ups and downs be between the sheets!

Here’s to the floor, who will hold you when no one else will.  But don’t forget your hands—you’ve always been able to count on them!

I drank to your health in company, I drank to your health alone.  I drank to your health so many times…I nearly ruined my own!

And because no good night of wine is complete without a little bit of poetry, here’s a favorite by Yeats:

“Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all that we will know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you and I sigh.”

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