Honey Braised Short Ribs With Creamy Polenta And Ragout Of Winter Vegetables

short rib ragu

Eating locally in January is not as difficult as one might think. Winter vegetables such as hearty greens and root vegetables are widely available and at their peak. This is a delicious way to make use of winter’s bounty.

Recipe: Root vegetable ragout

Ingredients

2 each sweet carrots, washed and peeled

4 each turnips, washed and peeled

2 each parsnips, washed and peeled

12 each pearl onions, peeled

12 each red pearl onions, peeled

1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon chopped tarragon

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation

Cut the carrots, turnips, and parsnips into pieces of about the same size and shape, preferably a medium-sized dice. Blanch the cut carrots, turnips, parsnips, and onions together, in a pot of boiling salted water, until tender, about 5 minutes or less. Carefully remove from the blanching water with a slotted spoon and place into an ice water bath. Allow vegetables to cool; reserve in refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.

To serve, put the vegetables in a small skillet along with sherry vinegar, butter, and chopped tarragon. Place the skillet over a medium-low flame and warm just moments before serving. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe: Creamy polenta

Ingredients

2 cups water

Salt, to taste

1/2 cup organic yellow polenta (can substitute plain cornmeal)

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (can substitute cream cheese)

Preparation

Lightly season 2 cups water with salt and bring to a boil. Quickly whisk in the polenta until it has been fully incorporated. Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the butter and allow the polenta to cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and season to taste with salt.

This may be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave just before serving.

Recipe: Zinfandel braised beef short ribs with creamy polenta and a ragout of fall vegetables

Ingredients

4 pounds beef short ribs, bone in, cut into single rib chops

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 cups zinfandel (red wine)

1/2 cup honey

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

3 sprigs fresh thyme, picked

3 ounces canola oil

2 cups small-diced onion

.5 cup small-diced celery

.5 cup small-diced carrots

6 ounces canned chopped tomatoes

2 cups beef broth

2 ounces mushrooms, preferably porcini

2 each bay leaves

Preparation

Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the zinfandel, honey, garlic, fresh thyme and a pinch of salt. Marinate the short ribs in the wine mixture for 12 hours in the refrigerator.

Pour 3 ounces canola oil into a Dutch oven over high heat. Remove the short ribs from the wine and allow the beef to rest for several minutes and come to room temperature. Reserve marinade.

Once the meat has rested, place in the hot pan. Stir and turn the meat often, carefully allowing each piece to brown on each side before removing from the pan. When browned (will take several minutes per side), remove the beef from the pan and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir constantly and allow the onions to cook until mahogany in color, about 10 minutes; if onions are browning too quickly, reduce to medium heat. Add the short ribs back to the pot along with the reserved wine marinade. Allow the wine to come to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer, skimming foam and fat from the surface of the liquid. After simmering for several minutes, add remaining ingredients and allow to simmer uncovered until the meat is fork tender and nearly falling off the bone, roughly 5 hours.

Once the beef has cooked, transfer short ribs to a dish and cover. Reduce the pan liquids until they coat the back of the spoon, simmering about 30 minutes. Strain the braising liquid and return the short ribs to the liquid. Season the short ribs and braising liquid with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve for later use.

This may all be done up to 3-4 days in advance. Reheat in oven or microwave until meat is at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Assembly: Reheat the three components of the dish separately.

On each of 6 large plates, place a couple of spoonfuls of polenta in the center of the plate.

Carefully remove the bones from the hot ribs and place the beef short ribs over the bed of polenta.

In a pan over medium heat, bring the reserved braising liquid to a simmer. Once the sauce is hot, check for seasoning and, if needed, add a touch of salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce around the beef short ribs and polenta. Carefully place the root vegetable ragout on the beef. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 6

Holidays With Honey – Honey Eggnog

egg nog

It wouldn’t be the holidays without eggnog. I love it on Christmas Eve while watching old movies with my family.

Come to think of it, I may just have an eggnog cupcake recipe around here somewhere…

Yield:  12-14 servings

Ingredients

1 cup honey

1 cup warm water

1 cup light rum

1 cup brandy

12 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups cream

Garnish: grated allspice or ginger

Preparation

In the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the honey in the water. Stir in thoroughly the light rum and brandy. Beat the mixture, gradually beating in the egg yolks, the milk, and the cream. Beat the eggnog until it is foamy and serve it in individual stemmed glasses with a dusting of grated allspice or ginger.

Southern Honey Cornbread Dressing

Yesterday I posted a recipe for Perfect Herbed Honey Oyster Dressing.

Today I started feeling guilty about calling it “perfect.” It wasn’t the dressing I grew up eating. Nope, my mother L.J. used to make old-fashioned Southern Cornbread Dressing.  With her own homemade cornbread.

It wasn’t sophisticated, but it was mighty good!

This is L.J.’s recipe, with some honey added to make it extra tasty…

Ingredients :

Honey Cornbread, recipe follows

7 slices oven-dried white bread

1 sleeve saltine crackers

8 tablespoons butter

2 cups celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

7 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh sage

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

5 eggs, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, dried white bread slices, and saltines; set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and cook until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the vegetable mixture over cornbread mixture. Add the stock, mix well, taste, and add salt, pepper to taste, sage, and poultry seasoning. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Pour mixture into a greased pan and bake until dressing is cooked through, about 45 minutes.

 Honey Cornbread:

1 cup self-rising cornmeal

1/2 cup self-rising flour

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup honey

2 eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into a greased shallow baking dish. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Get Converted!

Fellow beekeeping bloggers innercityfarmers asked:

In terms of converting sugar to honey when baking, do you have a conversion that you go by? Any tips or tricks you should be aware of when making the switch?

Good question!

Most of my recipes were developed using honey.  But I have converted a few of them.

For baked goods, the following rules of thumb apply:

1. Use equal amounts of honey for sugar up to one cup. Over one cup, replace each cup of sugar with 2/3 to 3/4 cup of honey depending upon the sweetness desired. Honey is sweeter than sugar.

2. Lower the baking temperature 25 degrees and watch your time carefully since products with honey brown faster.

3. In recipes using one cup or more of honey for sugar, it may be necessary to reduce liquids by 1/5 to 1/4 cup per cup of honey.

4. Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of honey if baking soda is not already included in the recipe. This will reduce the acidity of the honey, as well as increase the volume of your product.

For other foods, honey is more or less interchangeable with sugar. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule.  Experimentation is the best way to go!!

One thing is for sure though — a little honey makes everything taste better!!

Italian Week – Linguine alla Cecca

This is one of my favorite recipes. I’ve made it for years and years.

It’s from Nora Ephron‘s wonderful novel  Heartburn, which is a fictional account of her marriage to Carl Bernstein of All The President”s Men fame.

She is a wonderful cook, and the book contains a number of fantastic recipes. I consider it one of my cookbooks!

Linguine alla Cecca is a simple recipe, but oh, so satisfying!  It’s perfect for summer suppers with a loaf of crusty bread. This is my comfort food.

Drop 5 large tomatoes into boiling water for one full minute.  Peel and seed and chop.

Put chopped tomatoes into a large bowl with ½ cup of olive oil, a garlic clove sliced in two  (more garlic is okay. Actually, preferable!) , 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, salt and hot red pepper flakes.

Let sit for a couple of hours. Remove the garlic if you wish.

Boil one pound of linguine, drain and toss with the sauce.  Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.