Monday, May 29, 2006
Short Rizzles In The Hizzle: DG Cooks Braised Short Ribs
When it comes to grocery shopping, I am, for the most part, a creature of habit. I hit up the same stores every week: Trader Joes, California Market and Costco. Trader Joes, California Market, and Costco. Trader Joes...OK enough--do you know my routine by heart yet? For kicks, I sometimes throw in 99 Ranch or Mitsuwa. My diet on a typical week is for the most part pretty simple; I can get pretty much everything I need at one of these stores. No problem, right?
Every once in a while, however, I get a hankering to cook something a little out of the ordinary. Let's say, for instance, that I want to whip up a little Osso Buco on (anti-) Valentine's Day for my honey & me. Some people might find it an adventure driving all around town wasting precious gasoline trying to find a couple of veal shanks. But me, not so much. Take that hunt for veal shanks, for example. I was a good sport about it at first (Hey, this might actually be kinda fun, I thought), even making it a little project by doing a little research. Quite a few people told me that Whole Foods' or Gelsons' meat departments carried the shanks, but the cheapskate in me quickly scratched those options off my list as I didn't want to pay something like $15 a pound. Eat, Drink, & Be Merry told me about some Kosher meat shop he went to on the Westside, but uh, either I had to stay true to my Eastside roots, or I was just too fucking lazy to drive to the Westside. I took my creature-of-habit ass over to Burbank where I made the usual rounds to Costco & Trader Joes and while I was out there, I remembered being told that Howdy Market on Magnolia had a pretty decent meat selection. But they were out. They were out and poor little ol' me sat in my car clueless as to where to go. I pulled the trusty Thomas Guide out and tried to devise a strategy as to which street I should start down to find a decent butcher and not have to go to Gelsons. Should it be Victory? Or maybe Burbank Blvd? Or perhaps there's something else on Magnolia? Fortunately, the light in my head suddenly switched on and I recalled that Monte Carlo Italian market was right down the street and did indeed have a meat counter. I was in luck...they had 6 veal shanks left, and for only $6.99 a pound. I took them all. I guess you could say that the osso buco dinner was well worth the grand tour of Burbank, but I can't deny that even thinking about it makes me tired. That's why I try to stick to what I know best.
Several weeks ago, I thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to have some short ribs and mashed potatoes?" There was a small, unavoidable problem, however: I didn't know where to get good short ribs, bone-in. I knew Costco sold short ribs, but they're boneless, and what are short ribs without the bone? That's why they call them short ribs, after all. You already know that Gelsons and Whole Foods were out of the picture. And I almost never ever set foot into your mainstream supermarket like Ralphs or Albertsons unless I really have to. And as you know, I've been a busy, busy person lately...I just didn't have the time to be driving all around town to find short ribs. So for several weeks I thought about making short ribs but because stubborn ol' me didn't want to stray from my regular shopping routine, I kind of gave up on the idea.
One day, as I had just finished filling up my cart with produce and little clear prepacked boxes of panchan at one of my usual haunts, California Market in Koreatown, I walked by the meat section, perhaps to pick up some sliced beef for bulgogi or some sliced short ri...iii..b...
Short ribs? Did someone say short ribs??? It was like a light had been turned on and suddenly I could see--there I was in the middle of the California Market meat aisle having an epiphany of sorts. My gosh, why hadn't I thought of the Korean market before? I suppose I had been experiencing some sort of culinary tunnel-vision all along, because prior to my enlightening discovery, short ribs at Korean market equaled kalbi and that was it. Just because I'm used to getting them sliced thin and marinating them with garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and pear juice amongst other things, doesn't mean that I can't ask for them sliced thick to be braised with mire poix. Hey, and fortunately for me, there were packages of thick cut short ribs right there in front of me ready to purchase for only about eleven bucks--will ya take a look at that?
Removing the 3 hunks of shorts ribs from their styrofoam tray, I pat them dry and dusted with a little flour and then slowly released them into my fabulous dune-colored dutch oven for browning.
The short rizzles are finally in my hizzle
After browning on all sides, I removed the ribs, and proceeded to add 2 stalks worth of chopped celery, 1 chopped carrot and 1 chopped onion--or if you want to be fancy about it, mire poix--scraping up all the browned bits from our meat as the veggies began their sweating process.
I then added a couple dollops (and by dollops, I mean dollops, no measurements here) of tomato paste and a swig or two of cabernet to our celery, carrot and onion mixture and cooked for another couple minutes. The meat was released back into the pot, covered with beef broth and simmered for about two hours on low heat.
Simmer down now...
The meat was so tender...
How tender was it?
It was sooo tender...
That it fell off the bone!
OK, har-dee-har-har, but seriously, we all know that unless cooked properly, short ribs can be tough and dry. That's why we tenderize the hell out of our kalbi with Asian pear juice. But when cooked correctly, it kinda makes you glad you're a carnivore. It's got meaty meat, it's got bone whose marrow has permeated into your sauce giving it its velvety properties, and it's got that luscious gelatinous connective tissue you can get only by simmering everything down.
I chose to serve my short ribs over a bed of arugula tossed with lemon juice and alongside some homemade roasted garlic mashed potatoes. With a glass of cabernet as accompaniment, this was the perfect comfort meal.
Things have a way of working themselves out in the end, don't they? I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in myself for being so unresourceful in the first place, but I learned an important lesson, and from now on this creature of habit would start to think outside the kalbi box.