Monthly Archives: February 2014

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine

A much better sauce made from a reduction of the braising liquid

***UPDATE***

Third attempt – same sauce as second attempt (straining, skimming the fat and then reducing), over quinoa. Full disclosure – I served it with the smallest onions I had just so that there was *some* semblance of vegetables. And they were excellent ! Really brings out the sweetness of the onion. If you want to do this, then add the peeled onions to the mixture during the last hour of braising.

First attempt – beef short ribs braised in red wine on soft polenta

The picture above is my first attempt at beef short ribs. The second attempt was far far better. So much better, in fact, that as soon as they were out of the oven, they were eaten (ie before I could remember to take a photo – oops). But I will update this post again with the new (!) and improved (!!) version, as I want to share what I did differently, and why.

Beef short ribs are uh-mazing. I bought two large packs of Australian beef short ribs from the Barbie Girls, each containing three gorgeously meaty, English-cut ribs. Ribs need time to cook to break down the connective tissue to make them t-e-n-d-e-r, and both times the ribs were cooked with the same ingredients.

The first time I was so eager to eat, that I forgot that ribs are a fatty cut of meat, and a lot of that renders out during the long cooking process. The end result was beautifully tender meat, but in an overly oily and thin sauce.

The second time I made this dish, I spent the time and effort to strain the sauce, skim as much fat as possible, and reduce the sauce, before adding the ribs and the sauce back in the same pot, and putting them back in the oven for another hour. It’s a little more effort for a far superior end result, with a rich, gravy-like sauce coating the entire rib. Full of flavour without the oiliness from my first attempt.

I also served the ribs the first time, over soft polenta. Weirdly, unlike pork ribs, which I like to serve with something contrastingly crunchy and refreshing, like a fresh coleslaw, I want to eat beef ribs with a similarly soft texture. But I think the polenta, while texture-wise was perfect, was carb-heavy, leaving a feeling of being really very full (OK, perhaps that was also down to pure portion size). The second time, I served it with cauliflower cheese. Yes, it’s rich from the cheese, but I think it’s the lack of carbs in that pairing … that left us with space for dessert (because let’s face it, this dish isn’t for the faint-hearted or diet-conscious – it’s pure indulgence).

Looong story over. I’ll have to make it again just so I can update the photo with the improved recipe.

Beef short ribs braised in red wine

Ingredients:

  1. Beef short ribs – bone in – about 2.5kg
  2. 3 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  3. 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  4. 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  5. Half a bottle of red wine – something heavier like a cabernet or even a shiraz I think works best
  6. 400ml beef stock
  7. *optional* Splash of brandy or port for a nice intense sweet undercurrent
  8. Sprig of rosemary
  9. Sprig of thyme
  10. 2 bay leaves

Method (the best way)

  1. In a large skillet, brown the ribs well – this will add depth of flavour from the caramelised sugars in the meat.
  2. In a large, heavy-based dutch oven or casserole dish, saute the onions, celery and carrot in some olive oil until soft
  3. Drain the oil from the skillet and transfer the meat to the dutch oven
  4. Add the wine, stock, brandy, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves to the pot. Ideally the ribs should be submerged in the liquid. Add additional stock or water if there isn’t enough
  5. Cover, and pop into your oven at 160C (320F) for 3 hours
  6. After 3 hours, take out the pot, take out the meat (it will already be tender and starting to fall off the bone) and carefully strain the liquid
  7. Discard what you’ve strained out – all those vegetables and herbs have imparted all their flavour in the sauce
  8. Return the liquid to the pot on high heat, and reduce by at least 30% – this will take about 20-30 minutes
  9. Pop the meat back in to the pot, cover, and return pot to the oven for another hour. There will be less liquid so the meat won’t be entirely covered, but don’t worry, the steam will help to cook any uncovered meat
  10. Serve with cauliflower cheese
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Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

Easy peasy recipe. Massage the rub into your pork, pop in to your slow cooker, and ten hours later, amazingly tender pulled pork magically comes out ! OK there’s just one or two more steps, but honestly, it’s quick to prepare (obviously it takes a long time to actually cook, but the slow cooker does all the work for you), and delicious to eat.

Ingredients

  1. Pork butt (pork shoulder) – I had 1kg but I’d recommend as much pork as you can fit in your slow cooker, as this freezes really well. Obviously adjust the ingredients below accordingly.

For the rub:

  1. 1 tbls garlic powder
  2. 1 tbls onion powder
  3. 1 tbls sea salt
  4. black pepper (as much as you can be bothered to grind)
  5. pinch chilli flakes
  6. pinch cayenne pepper
  7. 2 tbls red wine vinegar
  8. glug of olive oil
  9. 2-3 tbls honey

Additional ingredients:

  1. 1/4 cup brown sauce (I used HP)
  2. squirt of tomato sauce

Method

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients for the rub together, add the wet ingredients, to make a paste
  2. Get your hands dirty and massage that paste all over your pork
  3. Pop into your slow cooker for an hour on high
  4. Reduce the setting to low and let the slow cooker do its magic for the next 8 hours
  5. Carefully take the pork out, removing any large pieces of fat, and shred
  6. Add back to the slow cooker with the brown sauce and tomato sauce for an hour
  7. Serve on something that can withstand and soak up the juicy pork – like a burger bun (I had a wrap), with something crunchy and fresh like a good coleslaw 

 

 

 


Truffle Gourmet, Monte Carlo, France

Fresh white truffles over fried eggs

What’s a trip to the French Riviera without a visit to Monte Carlo in Monaco ?

Living in Singapore where it costs US$60-70K to just have the right to own a car, we haven’t driven in the last seven years. So how better could I surprise D for our tenth anniversary than to book D in for a few hours of driving around the French Alps in a Ferrari ? (And yes, I scored massive brownie points as “best wife” for this one ;))

Full disclosure – I am such a non-sports person that I didn’t even know that the hotel where we would be picking up the car was the famous Fairmont Hotel, over the Monaco F1 track !

OK so I’m going off topic here.

More truffly goodness over a simple homemade pasta

The other thing that we wanted to do while in Monte Carlo was to visit a place called Truffle Gourmet. The name says it all, really, doesn’t it ?

At the tail end of the white truffle season, we figured, if we were going to get truffles, it would be there.

I had a slight case of initial confusion (happens more than I’d like to admit) when we started to chat to the chefs: why are they speaking in Italian ? Then my brain caught up and realised how close we were to the Italian border.

The best way to enjoy truffles is to let them shine. Simple food, with fresh truffles shaved over always makes me smile. So when the recommendation of “over some eggs, and maybe over some fresh pasta ?” came, we just nodded vigorously.

The eggs were a little overcooked – the yolks had almost cooked through, but the pasta was just perfect. The aroma of the generous shavings of white truffles filled the air. Bellissimo !

Truffle Gourmet has coincidentally recently opened up a branch in Singapore. It’s a restaurant more than a counter-cafe but at least we will be able to enjoy truffly goodness locally.

Truffle Gourmet
15 , place d’ Armes, 98000 Monaco
Tel: +377 97 77 19 19


La Ramade, St Tropez

 

Saint Tropez is just a short bateaux ride across the bay from quiet Sainte Maxime. We wanted somewhere to enjoy some rosé after spending the morning at the Saturday markets, and we chanced upon what has to be the prettiest place we visited during our entire trip.

I felt like I had walked into one of Wonderland’s tea parties. Each table was decorated with enormous vases of blooming flowers. Sunlight peeked through the leafy trees onto our tables. Colour. Everywhere.

We were lucky to see a delivery of edible blooms – stunning yellow zucchini flowers (in the hands of a camera-shy chef), that would later be stuffed and deep fried.

Provençal tomato tart

Even the tomato tart seemed too brightly coloured to be true.

Grilled local sardines

Amongst all of that, the food at La Ramade is simple and rustic – think grilled fresh sardines and coq au vin. A little oasis from the hustle and bustle of the outside Saint Tropez.

La Ramade
3 Rue du Temple
Saint-Tropez, France

Tel: 04 94 81 58 67