...the Pawnshop kings that is! A last minute email from two of my favorite guys on the planet that they were coming to town was reason enough to drop everything, moving boxes be damned, and throw a dinner. I was going to wait until I had unpacked everything, finished decorating, furnished the guest room etc before I had anyone over but life is too short! What the heck, what's a few moving boxes between friends? So Friday 4pm shop, 4:30pm hide boxes, 5:30pm short ribs in the oven, 6pm shower, 6:30pm decide to 86 first course, 6:45pm make appetizers, 7pm guests arrive. Wet hair and all, it came together for a magical, unforgettable evening of great friends old and new, good food, flowing wine, a lot of belly laughs and soul-touching, feet stomping music.
* Aperitif *
~ Domaine Carneros Taittinger Late Disgorged Brut Rose 2005
~ Paul Dethune a Ambonnay Grand Cru Champagne
~ Le Noble, Cuvee Intense Brut Champagne
> Frittata Squares
> Cumin Spiced Pecans
* Diner *
~ Miner Simpson Vineyard Syrah 2004
~ Ridge Lytton Springs 2008
~ Ridge Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel 2005
~ Ridge Carmichael Zinfandel 2005
~ Ridge Jimsomare Zinfandel 2005
(10 bottles for 10 people, not bad :) the Miner was disappointing, not as deep and rich as I'd remembered, so we quickly dispatched with that and broke out the Ridge, can never go wrong there!)
> Chipotle-Acho-Chocolate-Cabernet Braised Short Ribs
> Polenta & Gremolata
> Glazed Heirloom Carrots with Thyme
* Digestif *
> Arugula Strawberry Blue Cheese Salad
> Fig Balsamic Meyer Lemon Zest Vinaigrette
* Dessert *
> Chocolate Bark with Pistachios, Cranberries & Apricots
and the * Coup d'Etat *
~ 1875 Cucamonga Vineyard Port
There was only about a cup left so I poured off a few precious drops to each of us and we savored it for the rest of the evening.
It always amazes me, though by now I don't know why it still does, how the last minute, throw-it-together, what's-the-easiest-thing-I-can-make-in-2-hours-cuz-I-haven't-showered-and-guests-are-arriving meals are always the best. The ones I agonize over for weeks are usually riddled with various and sundry culinary disasters.
However, I think I am going to have to hang up my apron because this night will remain unsurpassed and anything else I do will pale in comparison. A huge hug of a thank you to Joel & Scott for filling my home with your beautiful music and for making it such a heart warming, unforgettable evening.
Click here and here to hear a few of the songs they played.
Chipotle-Ancho-Chocolate-Cabernet Braised Short Ribs with Polenta and Gremolata
The basis of this recipe comes from Mario Batali's Babbo Cookbook though I took more liberties with it than sailors on leave so bear with me... I also don't measure and I'm sure I'll for get something so really bear with me here...
- Enough short ribs for 12 people (no idea how much, i think about 2 large ribs per person, ask your butcher though, that's what I did)
- Ancho chili powder
- Chipotle chili powder
- Sharfenberger bittersweet powdered chocolate
- 1 large yellow onion, rough chopped
- 2 carrots, rough chopped
- 10 shallots, cut in half, peeled
- 1/2 head garlic chopped
- Mexican chipotle chili chocolate
- 1 bottle Crushpad Bailout Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Heat oven to 400F. Sprinkle meaty sides of short ribs with sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder and powdered chocolate. In a large roasting pan over medium high heat, swirl in olive oil and sear on *all* sides then set aside on a deep plate to catch the juices.
Deglaze the roasting pan with a small amount of the red wine and scrape up the bottom and sides with a flat wooden spoon. Add in the garlic and onions until translucent and garlic is starting to brown slightly. Add carrots and shallots and cook for a few minutes. Add the chocolate and stir to get the melting chocolate distributed evenly.
Add the seared ribs back into the roasting pan meaty side down along with the juices and all the red wine. Cover it tightly with foil, put it in the oven, turn the oven down to 350F and roast for an hour. After an hour, turn the meat, recover tightly with foil and finish cooking for another hour.
While the ribs are cooking, make the Gremolata and prep the polenta
- 1/2 head garlic, finely chopped
- handful of parsley finely chopped
- zest of 2 meyer lemons
Chop each item finely, then chop together. Place in a small (glass) bowl, cover and set aside until ready to serve.
For the Polenta... (I doubled this)
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits
- chunk of Parmigiano, grated finely on a microplane
- 1/2 cup half & half (Land o'Lakes fat free - can't tell the diff!)
I set the pot of salted water on the lowest possible burner about 30 minutes before I need to start cooking the polenta so that when I need to start, the water will already be hot and will then boil quickly. Once the water is boiling, whisk in the polenta stirring constantly, about 20 minutes. Add in the cream stirring to incorporate completely, then take it off the heat and stir in the cheese. Time this, so it's done right about when you want to serve dinner.
Now back to the ribs....
When the meat is done, take the meat out - it should fall off the bone - and set aside in a deep dish. Remove the bones and discard (compost, save them for stock or do whatever you do with bones...). Strain the juice, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan and then pour into a gravy separator. I'm not a big fan of gadgets but this is a must. The ribs render a lot of fat and you don't want it in your delicious sauce.
Put 1-2 heaping serving spoonfuls of polenta into a large deep bowl, place a few pieces of meat on top, pour on the sauce and top with a teaspoon of Gremolata. Add wine, friends, and music and you not only have a delicious meal but a delicious evening! Bon Appetit!
To me, this is what life's all about! :) or to quote one of Scott and Joel's songs they just wrote and treated us to: "...It won't be pretty and it goes fast, Every day the future becomes the past, Life is for living, Oh life is for Living...!"