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Braised short ribs are so rich and flavorful, it seems as though you worked so hard; but really you put everything in the pot and forget about it. The creamy polenta is wonderful and comforting, a perfect partner for the short ribs. This is love in a bowl!
For the braised short ribs:
1. If there is a thick layer of fat on the outside of the short ribs, then remove it.
2. Season all sides of the short ribs generously with salt and pepper.
3. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high. When the pan is hot, put the ribs in to brown on all sides. Do not over crowd the pan, so do this in batches if needed. When the ribs have browned remove them to a plate.
4. Add the cipolline onions (if using) and brown all sides of them. When they have browned, remove them to a plate.
5. Turn the heat down to medium and add the diced onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and a ¼ teaspoon of salt. Sweat the vegetables until the onions are translucent.
6. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Nestle the browned short ribs back into the pan and add the red wine, veal (or beef) stock, maple syrup (if using), bay leaves and the herbs (if using fresh herbs, tie them into a bundle with kitchen twine). Don’t add the cipolline onions at this point.
8. Bring the pot up to a mild boil, then put the lid on askew (this allows the liquid to evaporate, concentrating the flavors, but at a slow rate of speed), turn the heat down to low and simmer for 3 hours.
9. After the 3 hours, remove the short ribs to a dish. Remove the bundle of fresh herbs and the bay leaves.
10. Take the Dutch oven off of the heat; and skim the fat off the top of the liquid.
11. Use a handheld blender to puree the vegetables and the sauce in the pan; this is what thickens the sauce.
12. Add the short ribs back into the pan of pureed sauce along with the cipolline onions.
13. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper if necessary.
14. Return the pan to the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes with the lid off while you make the polenta.
For the creamy polenta:
1. Add the water, milk and heavy cream* to a 3 quart sauce pan. Whisk until the liquid is frothy.
2. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat. Watch carefully that it doesn’t boil over.
3. Add the salt.
4. Whisk the polenta into the pan in a slow, steady stream. It’s very important to use a whisk at this point.
5. Turn the heat down to low and continue to whisk for a couple of minutes; to separate the grains.
6. Put the lid on a simmer at the lowest temperature, for 35 to 45 minutes. Stir the polenta with a long handled wooden spoon at first about every 10 minutes, then when the polenta starts to thicken, stir every 5 minutes, replacing the lid each time.
7. When the polenta is done, it will have porridge-like consistency; remove it from the heat, stir in the butter and cheese.
* If you don’t want to use heavy cream, omit the cream and increase the amount of milk to 3 cups.
Pour the creamy polenta into a bowl and eat it like it is (YUM!); or… top it with braised short ribs or your favorite ragu.
Nancy is the Coupon Clipping Cook, which means she not only has an astounding number of recipes to share with us (her TK recipe box is busting at the seams!) but she's also got loads of money-saving tips in her blog (she worked at a grocery store for a number of years, so she knows her stuff). She has some pretty amazing creations, like Roasted Garlic Potato Soup and Nutty Coconut Chicken. Go check them out!
Heather is a Texas native and the blogger behind Heather's Dish. She's mom to Weston, wife to Nate, and they live in Little Rock, Arkansas with their two "stubborn and saucy" dogs Bunker and Keira. In her blog, she shares her photographs, random musings (serious and silly alike), and all kinds of scrumptious recipes---and not just evil variations of her favorite mac and cheese. Her enviable TK recipe box is a testament to that. Go see for yourself!