Braised Shortribs with Parsnip Potatoes

Peasant food. A poor man's diet. Dishes made with inexpensive ingredients. Mostly, peasant food consists of hearty one-pot dishes slow cooked in a savory broth to tenderize and flavor the pot. The presentation is simple, some would say there is no presentation to speak of, showcasing only the ingredients on the plate. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like pretty good eats to me. And, it's a great way to simplify. I have always loved the notion of eating this way. It’s simple, hearty and laden with flavor. The beauty is that it is actually quite easy to make. Most of the work is in the preparation of the ingredients. The rest is done in the oven. Sloooowly.

By cooking for a longer time at a lower temperature, the ingredients have time to tenderize, soak up the juices, herbs and spices; and meld into a delicious symphony of flavors. The beauty of slow-cooking, is that you can use less expensive cuts of meat and seasonal root vegetables. That is not say that you should compromise the quality of the ingredients, however, especially since we readily have access to good cuts of inexpensive meat and affordable locally grown vegetables.

When I think of cooking and eating peasant food, I am also drawn to red wine. {Come to think of it, I am always drawn to red wine, but that's another story.} I like a wine that has a bit more body and depth than what I might drink in warmer weather. An Italian Barolo or Barbara d'alba are two of my favorite flavors. There are a plethora of wines on the marketplace at affordable prices, so you don’t have to cut back on this enjoyable {and, at my table, essential} part of cooking and the eating. Check with your local wine shop for recommended selections that won’t break the bank. Get the best bang for your buck with whatever budget you are working with.

To round out a peasant meal, artisan-made breads on the table from your local baker is a perfect compliment to this kind of meal. Pick a bread that can easily sop up all of the juices, like a rustic ciabatta or pain au levain. Be a bit decadent and put some salted butter on the table. Peasant food no longer means you can’t indulge!
I am typically not big on leftovers, but go ahead make enough for tomorrow. Stews and roasts and long-cooked dishes are great next-day meals…..the flavor only gets better. Peasant no longer means poor. It just means simple and delicious.


3# individual beef shortribs {about 2-3 short ribs per person}
salt and cracked black pepper
Olive oil
2 large onions, cut into ½ inch slices
3 carrots, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
3 ribs of celery, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup tomato paste
2 cups of red wine
3 cups of water
aromatic herbs on their stems: any combination of thyme, sage and rosemary

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Season the short ribs on all sides with the salt and pepper.
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil and brown the short ribs on all sides until browned and caramelized. Remove the short ribs from the pan onto a plate.
Add 3 Tablespoons olive oil to the pan with the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Seaon with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables until soft and caramelized. Add the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes.
Pour in the wine and scrape up the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the water and herbs. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and place in the oven. Cook the short ribs until tender, about 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until the short ribs are tender, but not yet falling off the bone. Remove from the pan and serve with the sauce over mashed potatoes cooked with peeled parships.

Serves four.

* To make the parsnip potatoes, cook 1 part peeled, chopped parsnips + 2 parts peeled and chopped yukon gold potatoes and prepare as you would mashed potatoes. That means plenty of butter,cream and Parmesan cheese at my house!

Buon appetito!
copyright 2009 Alisa Barry

1 comment:

Sandy said...

Alisa, we've been eating parsnips for a couple of weeks - straight from our garden!

Great site here! :)