Can you even believe that Christmas is just 3 days away? Where did the Holiday season go? Well, I’ve managed to get most of my gift shopping done; however, I have yet to bake a single cookie or prepare any edible gifts for my coworkers. AND I’m just finishing up all of my cards today. Luckily they say “Happy Holidays”, so they are still relevant if they show up some time between Christmas and New Years ;). I know you’re probably thinking: #firstworldproblems, but I have certain traditions I like to do each year, and it makes me a little sad if I don’t get to all of them.
This year, Jorge and I will be going up to LA on Christmas Eve to have dinner with his family, and then we’ll be driving back to SD on Christmas day. Christmas dinner will be for just the two us. Even though I’m not hosting a blowout party (like Thanksgiving), I still want to make our Christmas dinner special.
It’s during times like these when I need to prepare a standout meal with minimal effort, that I’m glad I have this Zinfandel Short Ribs recipe in my back pocket. Zinfandel Short Ribs are fairly easy to prepare, the ingredients aren’t fussy, and the beef can be cooked a day in advance. Goat Cheese Polenta and Mixed Herb Gremolata, the all-star accompaniments, come together easily an hour before dinner. And really, who doesn’t love a good braised short rib? Continue reading for the recipe.
Beef short ribs are seared until golden brown then braised in a liquid flavored with onion, carrot, garlic, rosemary and Zinfandel wine. Cooking time is around 3 hours, but it’s largely unattended, allowing for some much-needed multitasking.
The Mixed Herb Gremolata is made with parsley, lemon zest, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Bright and fragrant, this chopped herb condiment is sprinkled over the short ribs at the last moment, lending pops of freshness that cut through the richness of the beef. Don’t try this with dried herbs – fresh is required.
Goat Cheese Polenta is a super easy side dish that pairs perfectly with these braised short ribs. Golden grains of polenta are cooked slowly until tender and creamy. The dish is finished with butter and gobs of tangy goat cheese. Polenta can be prepared in advance as well, but I like it best when it’s prepared just before serving.
Zinfandel Short Ribs with Goat Cheese Polenta and Mixed Herb Gremolata
To make the Zinfandel Short Ribs:
- 4 pounds thick bone-in beef short ribs
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3– 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 1/2 cups chopped red onions
- 2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled carrot
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 750 ml good quality Zinfandel
- 2 cups low-sodium beef stock
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
To make the Goat Cheese Polenta:
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 scant cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 ounces goat cheese
To make the Mixed Herb Gremolata:
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
To make the Zinfandel Short Ribs: Preheat oven to 325°F. Make sure the short ribs are completely dry. Season ribs on both sides generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Warm a large oven-proof pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, then quickly add the short ribs in a single layer. Work in batches if your pot is not large enough. Sauté until brown on all sides (about 10 minutes). Transfer ribs to a rimmed baking sheet, and repeat with remaining ribs if necessary. Once all ribs have been browned, discard any fat left in the pot. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pot, then add the onions. Sauté until the onions start to brown (about 5 minutes), then add the carrots. Sauté until the carrots start to brown (about 5 minutes), then add the garlic and rosemary. Cook just until fragrant (about 1 minute), then add the wine and beef broth. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
Return the ribs to the pot along with any accumulated juices, arranging in a single layer. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the ribs are fork tender (about 2 1/2 hours).
Using tongs, pull the ribs from the pan juices, and transfer to a clean, rimmed baking sheet. Try to keep the bones attached to the ribs for aesthetics. Pour pan juices through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Reserve the solids (carrots, onions, garlic, etc.). Skim fat from the pan juices, then pour back into the large pot. Add reserved vegetables. Warm over medium-high heat until boiling, then cook for 10 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Using a fork, mash 1 tablespoon of butter with the flour in a small bowl until well combined. Whisk the butter-flour paste into the juices, then simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon (about 5 minutes longer). Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
To make the Goat Cheese Polenta: Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add polenta to the water in a slow stream, whisking to avoid lumps. Once the mixture returns to a simmer, reduce heat to low, add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and cook until the polenta is tender and creamy (20 – 25 minutes). Stir occasionally. If you find your polenta is getting too thick, stir in an extra tablespoon of water to loosen things up.
Stir in butter and goat cheese. Season to taste with additional kosher salt.
To make the Mixed Herb Gremolata: Add all ingredients to a small bowl, and stir until combined. Chill until ready to use.
To serve: Spoon polenta on a plate. Move spoon in a swirling motion to spread polenta out over the middle of the plate. Place 2 to 3 short ribs in the middle of the polenta, and top with sauce. Finish with a sprinkling of the gremolata.
This recipe was originally featured in Pacific Magazine.3