Thursday, February 18, 2010

Short Ribs and Corn Puddin'

This is perfect cold-weather comfort food.  The short ribs require minimal setup and then simmer away until tender, and the corn pudding puffs up like a souffle but stays creamier in the middle.  The pudding might be a little bland for some, but the addition of some hot peppers or cheese would do the trick.  Some reviewers of the short ribs recipe suggested adding red wine or tomato paste, but I'd already made a beef stew with red wine recently and was looking for something different.  I'm also one of those people who likes beef for beef . . . why cover it up with 20 spices and seasonings?  You might as well eat chicken or tofu.  Aside from a few vegetables, these short ribs needed no enhancement -- they were perfect.

The corn pudding recipe calls for cornmeal (which I didn't have), but I read on Wikipedia that in the US the finely ground stuff is known as corn flour (which I did have).  I figured I would like the finer texture anyway, since I'm one of those rare people who doesn't care for cornbread and its gritty texture.  Plus, it was an excuse not to run out to the grocery store!

Braised Beef Short Ribs
From Gourmet via Epicurious
You'll notice from the photos that I downsized the recipe for our household of only two.

5 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 1-rib pieces if necessary
All-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper for dredging
¼ cup rendered bacon fat (I didn't have any artery clogger, so I used olive oil)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 small onions (about 1 pound total), unpeeled but chopped
6 carrots, sliced
½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
3 cups beef broth

Preheat oven to 350°. Dredge ribs in flour, knocking off excess. Heat bacon fat in a 6-quart heavy ovenproof kettle over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown short ribs in batches (in a single layer without crowding). Transfer short ribs as browned with tongs to a large plate.

Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons bacon fat remaining in kettle and in it cook garlic, onions, carrots, and rosemary with salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat, stirring, until browned lightly. Add broth to vegetable mixture and bring to a boil, stirring.

Return ribs to kettle, squeezing them to fit in a single layer, if possible, and cover kettle with a led. Braise ribs in oven until tender, about 2 hours.

Transfer ribs with tongs to a platter and keep warm. Pour cooking liquid through a fine sieve set over a saucepan, discarding solids, and skim fat. If necessary, boil liquid to thicken it slightly, and spoon sauce over ribs.

Corn Pudding
From Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen

2 ears fresh corn in their husks
2 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream (I used light)
2 tbs unsalted butter
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
3 tbs chopped fresh chives (I was out of these also. Don't judge!)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the 2 ears of corn, in the husks, in the oven, directly on the center rack. Roast the corn for 30 minutes, until soft. Cool slightly so you don't burn your hands and then remove the husks. Cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife and set the loose corn aside. Leave the oven on.

Roasted corn.

Corn folded into the cornmeal mixture.

It gets less goopy with the addition of egg yolks.

Stiff peak.  Your egg whites should have a tip that stands without falling.

Mixture lightened with egg whites.

In a large pot over low heat, combine the milk, cream, and butter.  Once the butter has melted, turn up the heat slightly and bring the mixture to just under a boil.  Pour in the cornmeal in a slow steady stream, whisking at the same time.  Cook and whisk constantly until the cornmeal is blended in and the mixture is smooth and thick; it should look like porridge.  Take the pot off the stove and fold in the corn, chives, and salt and pepper.  Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time, to make it more like a batter.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites (use a hand blender if you have one) until they hold stiff peaks.  Fold the whites into the corn pudding to lighten it.  Coat the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.  Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  When it's done, the corn pudding will look puffed and golden brown, like a souffle.

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