Friday, November 12, 2010

You too can make food crack -- Braised Short Ribs over Pasta

There is a food god and her name is most definitively pasta. As clearly evidenced by the preponderance of pasta dishes on this blog, I am an absolute pasta-aholic. This is another sensational dish from one of my favorite people on planet food, Giada De Laurentiis. A rich, dark and meaty sauce that has serious depth of earthly, round warm flavor smothered over freshly cooked, tender pasta. It’s a hug in a bowl.

If that weren’t enough for you, here are two more good reasons to try this dish: it’s cheap and it includes cheese AND chocolate! Short ribs are a fantastic cut of meat. They are down right cheap and require simply a bit of liquid and a long bath on the stove to produce a tender and tasty mass of flavor power. The vast majority of the other ingredients in this dish are highly accessible, many of which happily reside in your pantry. Who knew when thrown together (and I mean thrown, prep time for this one is like a whopping 20 mins) you could make magic!

The second reason for my deep respect for this dish is the fact that I get to garnish this one with both cheese AND chocolate! Don’t let the chocolate thing throw you for a loop. It is completely clutch. The slightly sweet smoothness of the dark chocolate plays well with the salty bite of the cheese. Together they bring out an earthy richness that is warm and soothing all the way through.

But I should warn you. This recipe is basically food crack. It is highly impossible not to over eat with this one and it makes amazing leftovers so honestly, attempt at your own risk. I’ve been known to be caught standing with fork in hand, strands of pasta hanging out of my mouth while smuggling bites late at night in front of the frige in the dark. Enjoy!

Braised Short Ribs with Tagliatelle
(Adapted, barely, from Giada De Laurentiis

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces chopped pancetta (about 1/2 cup) (can sub with thick cut bacon in a pinch)
2 1/2 pounds short ribs
1 tbsp salt, plus extra for seasoning short ribs
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tsp unsweetened coco powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1 cup red wine
1 pound fresh or dried tagliatelle or parpadelle
4 to 6 teaspoons shaved bittersweet chocolate
1 Pecorino romano rind
Pecorino romano for garnish

Place the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total.
Meanwhile, combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and pulse.
Once the short ribs are browned, carefully add the mixture from the food processor to the pot.
 Return the pancetta to the pot and stir. Add the rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, coco powder, salt, black pepper, cheese rind, beef broth, and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another hour and a half, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat and bones from the pot. Discard the bones.
 Shred the meat and return it to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, or to taste. Skim the fat off the top of the sauce is desired as well. Return the meat to the sauce and mix to combine. Continue to cook on a low heat until pasta is ready.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta and 2 to 3 minutes for fresh. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pot and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, if needed, to moisten the pasta and loosen the sauce (though I rarely need this). Transfer to serving bowls, top each bowl with 1 teaspoon of chocolate shavings and cheese as desired. Serve immediately.

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