January 18, 2011

Gina’s Short Ribs Braciole for a New Year’s Resolution {Naptime Tales from the Trenches}

Short Ribs

This is the 10th installment of my Tales from the Trenches Series. An ongoing series where friends and readers share their stories and recipes about the great food they fit into family life. We all have tips and tricks to share with each other: when we cook, what we cook and how we cook the delicious food we love to eat. If you are interested in contributing a story and recipe please feel free to contact me. Today my friend Gina is sharing her New Year’s Resolution and how it has affected her cooking style in the New Year. Gina and I immediately connected over the point that she never, ever sacrifices cooking delicious food just because she has such a busy family life. There is always a way to fit it in, and this is how she does it!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have something to confess: I am to cookbooks what Imelda Marcos is to shoes.  I own WAY too many.  It’s true: I have rarely met a cookbook I didn’t like, and my rather vast collection is threatening to take over my house and force my family to find alternative living arrangements.   And while I cook and bake constantly, it seemed that I owned an awful lot of books with great recipes that had never seen the light of day.  In order to justify owning so many cookbooks, I made a New Year’s resolution this year to get them off the bookshelves and start using them on a weekly basis.  While the blog, book and movie “Julie and Julia” has inspired a growing number of food blogs devoted to cooking from one book from start to finish, I chose instead to select recipes from a wide variety of books and hopefully remind myself why I bought the book in the first place.

Here I’m sharing a new favorite recipe for braised short ribs from “Urban Italian” by Andrew Carmellini, a fantastic book with wonderful stories and recipes by one of New York’s most talented chefs.  Braises are great for this time of year and perfect for starting early in the day as they usually require a few hours of advance cooking before they’re ready to serve.  And while my two children are admittedly a few years beyond the napping stage, I still use the afternoon hours to get a head start on dinner since my side job as family chauffeur usually interferes with any last minute dinner preparations.

Recipe

Short Ribs Braciole

Adapted from “Urban Italian” by Andrew Carmellini

This is a very straightforward recipe with few but essential ingredients.  The name “braciole: refers to the classic Italian preparation of rolled stuffed beef braised in tomato sauce.  The short ribs are topped with delicious breadcrumb and Parmigiano cheese topping before serving.   This recipe serves 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients

For the short ribs:

½ cup roughly diced pancetta (about ¼ pound)
2 pounds boneless short ribs cut into thirds
1 heaping tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 28-ounce cans of whole plum tomatoes, plus their juice (either chop them in a food processor or crush them in a large bowl with your hands)

For the topping:

¼ cup pine nuts, chopped into rough pieces
1 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup breadcrumbs (you can even use Panko)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Pinch each of salt and ground pepper
2 tblsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large, dry ovenproof saucepot or Dutch oven, sauté the pancetta over medium-high heat until it starts to brown and some of the fat is rendered, about two minutes.  Stir occasionally to keep from sticking.

Season the short ribs well on both sides with the salt and pepper, add them to the pan and brown the meat on all sides (about 5 minutes).

Add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until onion softens, about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and their juice and bring the mixture to a low boil.

Remove the pot from the stove and place in the oven.  Continue to cook until the meat is very tender and a fork can pass through it without sticking.  This should take 2 ½ to 3 hours.

To prepare the topping:

Toast the pine nuts until lightly browned in a dry sauté pan over low heat.  Add the olive oil and mix well, then add the breadcrumbs and continue to cook over low heat until everything is toasted brown, about 2 minutes.   Add the oregano and parsley and season with salt and pepper.   Remove from the heat; allow cooling slightly before adding the grated cheese.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This dish can be prepared even a full day ahead and reheated on the stovetop over low heat or in the oven at a moderate temperature (300 degrees) for about 30 minutes.  The short ribs can be served on their own but I like to serve them over pasta like rigatoni or wide noodles like pappardelle.   Either way, sprinkle the crumb topping generously over the ribs just before serving.

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