Polenta Basics (for 8 people): Bring 8 cups water to boil, add 2 teaspoons sea salt, 2 cups polenta and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cooked, add in 2 – 4 tablespoons butter, olive oil, or a little of both, to finish. Turn off heat, cover and let stand until ready to serve (within 30 minutes or the polenta will harden).
See ingredients for “The meat”, “The veggies” and “The braising liquid” when shopping.
- 4 beef short ribs, each cut into 2-3 inch pieces; approximately 6 pounds
- 1 tablespoon semolina flour
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- 1 leek, sliced in half and into 1/2 inch half-moons then rinsed in a bowl of water
- 1 celery stick, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 shallots, peeled and split
- 3 sprigs Italian, flat leaf parsley
- 1 branch fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (try Bomba! XXX)
- 1 750ml bottle of hearty red wine
- 1 28 oz. veal stock (Stock Options brand)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Sprinkle the meat with salt, semolina and pepper, then brown the ribs on all sides (in batches) in a hot dutch oven (at least 6 qt size, I like Le Creuset; or use a stovetop-safe slow cooker insert) with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. As meat browns, remove from dutch oven and set aside on a plate while you finish with all of the rib chunks. This is going to take you around 45 minutes.
- As you’re browning the rib chunks, make the braising liquid & prepare the veggies: pour wine into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce by 1/2 -- this will take about 20 minutes. Add the stocks and water and bring to simmer. Cut up the veggies and set aside.
- When you have finished browning all of the rib chunks, remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the dutch oven, toss the veggies in, stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for a minute. Add the rib chunks and braising liquid, cover and put into preheated oven for 2 1/2 hours, or use slow cooker set to "Low" for 6 - 8 hours.
- One of the keys to a good braise is to be patient with the browning process at the very beginning. With short rib chunks, it is essential to take the time to brown each surface — so the browning is going to take you about 45 minutes – 1 hour. It will be time well spent, so don’t rush it.
- The more wine the better, but I know it is tough to pour more than one bottle into a dinner. If you happen to open a bottle while you’re cooking, pour a glass or two to drink then add the rest to the braising liquid in step 1 above. It’ll only make it better.
- If you can’t find the Stock Options frozen stock, substitute 2 cups of other liquid — beef broth (taste first and make sure you like it!) or more wine.
- All stews and braises get better with a little time on them. Take the pressure off yourself and make this dish a day or two in advance, store in the refrigerator, remove the hardened fat then reheat gently on the stovetop when you are ready to serve.