Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Long and Short of It

“I can’t live like this anymore.”

I declared this to The Husband one night after FINALLY getting the Babes to sleep and sitting down for five minutes to down dinner in one gulp. It was 11 p.m. Dinner was a scrambled egg with toast. I think I was shaking from malnutrition, and I’m sure my head was pounding.

Next, I’m going to tell you I chased my late-night gourmet meal with a shot of tequila before sweeping glitter on my eyes and pulling up my go-go boots to hoof it up Forbes Avenue to the dive bar for a night out with my sorority sisters.

Oh, wait that happened in my mind. Well, really that happened probably on a weekly basis back in 1995.

Yes, I’m THAT old.

Of course, in 1995 I was not a baby momma or a wifey or a bizness owner.

I was just a clueless Carnegie Mellon University student trying to make the Dean’s List and find a good seat at a bar (preferably next to a boy who would buy the drinks.) Seriously. Those were my two biggest concerns.

And so this got me a thinking: My 1995 diet consisted of coffee and tea (this was the 90s afterall, when the whole coffeehouse thing was intriguing), ramen noodles (gag!), Kraft mac and cheese (super gag!), cereal, Pepperidge Farm milano cookies (these are still a part of my diet today in moments of desperation. Don’t judge), gummy bears, an apple or orange here or there, and Vladimir vodka mixed with raspberry Crystal Light and/or Snapple fruit juice. Honestly, I think I just threw up a little.

Fortunately, the Jersey Girl’s Daddy-o hooked me up with a credit card and upon dropping me off in good old Pittsburgh said, “You can put any charges on here that have to do with food. Make sure you eat.”

In fact, spending time with fam and friends to eat is one of my most favorite things to do. But the reality is, my life’s schedule or, lack thereof, makes the possibility of sharing a meal with others a rarity. Just like during my college days. Truth be told, this is how it’s always gone down during my adulthood because I’ve always worked jobs that have insane hours.

But, I was thrilled when one day during February or March I had the time and focus to make Short Ribs in Barolo for The Husband. The recipe comes from Mario Batali, and it is made of awesome meaty awesomeness. I served the short ribs with some rigatoni, which held up nicely to the big sauciness of it all.

Hopefully, you can whip some up before it gets too summery out. Short ribs seem like a cool night treat to me. The recipe calls for boneless short ribs, but mine were not boneless. They become so tender, the meat just falls right off. I also did not re-season with salt and pepper. But, I tend to cook with a lot less salt than called for in recipes. Also, be careful when searing the short ribs. The hot pan causes oil to spatter.

I used my Mean Marinara Sauce instead of Mario's tomato sauce. For my recipe, please click here.

Oh, and have no worries: Baby Evan these days is MUCH easier to put to bed. So, hopefully my cookery will get back on the exciting track soon! I don’t know if the same can be said of my social life.

Short Ribs in Barolo
Makes 4 servings
From “Molto Italiano”
By Mario Batali

6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs. boneless beef short ribs, cut into 3-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large Spanish onions, cut into ½-inch dice
1 medium carrot, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
2 ribs celery, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
4 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 cups Barolo or other hearty red wine
2 cups tomato sauce

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, brown the meat all over, turning frequently, until dark, golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter and set aside

Pour the excess oil out of the pot. Add the onions, carrot, celery and pancetta and cook until the vegetables are light brown and starting to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and tomato sauce and bring to a boil.

Add the meat and bring back to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until the meat is very tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Transfer the meat to a festive platter.

Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce to 2 ½ cups. Season with salt and pepper, pour over the meat and serve immediately.