We’ve decided to forgo going out to eat for a while…
Though, we find “date night” to be really important. Day-to-day busyness and family responsibilities leave us wanting time and space to ourselves – as a couple…remember that? We really do have names that aren’t “Mom” & “Dad?”
But now, our date night is a weekly weeknight financial seminar that we are attending. What? That doesn’t sound romantic to you? Well, becoming financially free sounds downright steamy to me. So, in the spirit of being financially careful and more responsible, we have stopped dining out for now. Though, after our seminars we’ve decided we will splurge and go out for coffee, or a drink, or a dessert – on the cheap. And in lieu of date night dining out, I’ll be making a special dinner once a week, just for the two of us, at home. Don’t worry – the kids won’t go hungry . . . I just make them something a little more their style, earlier.
For our Date Night-In #1 I decided to prepare short ribs. They were on sale at my grocery store (yay!), and you can’t go wrong with them. Slowly braised, the tender meat just falls off the bone and is oh-so succulent. It is a pretty hands-off operation, so that meant while they were cooking I could prepare the kids’ dinner. I had planned on making them baked macaroni and cheese, but scored with some leftover baked penne from a couple of days earlier.
For the date-night dinner sides, I made fresh green beans with caramelized shallots and a super creamy and delicious celery root and potato puree. Did I lose you right there? If you are unfamiliar with celery root (celeriac), it is a really ugly-looking thing. It’s exterior is beige-ish and is knobby and gnarly. Cut away the peel and knobbiness and you’ll find a creamy white colored flesh that has a strong raw celery smell. Once cooked, though, it transforms itself with a delicious subtle taste – as some describe as a cross between celery and parsley. I don’t know…I think it’s flavor is unique, and this girl, who is not such a fan of celery – only very, very cooked – loves me some celery root.
As far as the puree, think ultra-smooth and creamy mashed potatoes. The vegetables are blended with the cooking liquid and only finished with a small amount of butter and cream for added richness.
For the ribs:
I began with salt & pepper seasoned ribs, and seared them in a hot pan, on all sides.
I removed them, set them aside, turned down the heat to medium and added carrot and onion to the pan to sweat – cook until tender without browning.
Added mushrooms and garlic – cooked for a couple of minutes until soft, then added tomato paste and cooked for about a minute.
Deglazed the pan with red wine – scraping up all those brown bits = flavor; and let it reduce by half.
I added the stock and thyme, nestled in those ribs – turned up the heat until it came to a simmer, put a lid on it and placed it into my 325° oven for 2 hours.
Removed the ribs, covered them with foil while I cranked up the cooking liquid over high heat, skimming the fat off the top, until it reduced by half – thickened and velvety-rich.
Then, here’s what we had for dinner…
Momma J’s Red Wine Braised Short Ribs
Serves 4 – leftovers for the next day or invite another couple to double date
3# beef short ribs
1 yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
4 Portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, large diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 c. dry red wine – only wine that you would drink, no “cooking wine” allowed
1 1/2 c. beef stock
1/4 c. chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325°.
Season ribs with salt & pepper, generously. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, over high heat, sear until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside. Turn heat down to medium and add onion and carrot to sweat. When tender and onions are translucent, add mushrooms and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until mushrooms are tender. Add tomato paste and cook for one minute. Deglaze pan with red wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan; allow to reduce by half. Add stock and ribs. Bring up to a simmer; cover and place in preheated oven for 2 hours.
Remove ribs, wrap tightly in foil. Bring sauce to a boil, skimming fat that rises to the top. Reduce by half. Serve over ribs.
Celery Root & Potato Puree
1 medium celery root – cleaned, peeled, and chopped
1# red, or other waxy potatoes – peeled and chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. half & half
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Add vegetables to a medium pan with bay leaf, add liquid to cover using equal parts chicken stock and water. Boil until very tender, adding more liquid if necessary to cover. Remove bay leaf. Add vegetables to food processor and enough cooking liquid to puree smooth. Add butter and salt & pepper to taste. Puree until combined. Add half & half, puree until just combined. Adjust seasonings.