When threatened by events out of the sphere of personal control, society tends to gravitate to the path of the most familiar. It may sound trite, but when times get tough there is more demand for the foods you grew up with than foods undiscovered. We see this every time the economy gets shaky. Up go the sales of simple roast chicken, braised short ribs, and unadulterated mashed potatoes. Throw mac-n-cheese in there and you have it covered. But that is the US, what of the rest of the world? Same holds true everywhere, comfort foods always return to give solace to the world's worried. For many this is a holiday season of uncommon challenges, yet temporary respite can be found in a simple meal.
Comfort foods are defined by the region, country, and culture of origin. Comfort foods all share a common thread of frugality. These are not the items of luxury, these are the foods of sustenance and approachability. Classic dishes, the things our grandmothers made. That is why it makes sense to see roast goose in Hungary, Spaetzle in Bavaria, Pad Thai in Bangkok, Shepherd’s Pie in the UK, or pot roasted beef in the US become the things most coveted during uncertain times.
A classic braise, a classic comfort.
Braised Short Ribs in Red Wine
3 # Short Ribs
3 each Carrots
2 each Parsnips
2 stalks Celery
1 large Onion
2 cups Red Wine
2 Tbl Tomato Paste
2 ea Bay Leaves
1 Teaspoon Peppercorns
2 cups Reduced veal or beef stock
- Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a thick bottom braising pan, sear the meat on all sides until well browned. Use a small amount of oil if necessary.
- Dice into 1” cubes or slices half of the carrots, parsnips, celery and onion. Rough chop the other half, placing the rough chopped vegetables into the pan with the meat to brown as well.
- pour the red wine over the meat. Bring to a simmer, then add the spices, tomato paste, and reduced stock.
- Cover and place in a preheated 350 (F) 170(C) degree oven for 1-1 ½ hours until slightly tender.
- Meanwhile, brown the reserved 1”diced vegetables in a small amount of butter. Remove the braising shortribs from the oven. Strain the chopped vegetables and spices out of the sauce, pouring the sauce back over the meat. Top with the browned vegetables. Cover again and place back in the oven for an additional 1-1 ½ hours until fork tender. Season sauce as needed with salt and pepper.
- Remove, serve sliced with a mashed potato in true comfort style.