It’s always fun when a friend asks me to cook with them. So I was happy to oblige when my friend Meg invited Ed and I to a “Sunday Supper” and said she had a recipe she wanted to try out. I only had one small reservation.
Meg is one of the best cooks I know so when she says she wants assistance with cooking, I suspect the recipe is going to be really difficult. You can imagine my relief when I heard that we were braising short ribs and making spaetzle.
The fun began with planning the dinner. Meg called me to ask me if I was going to the market on Saturday. The question surprised me, considering where I work. Even if I weren’t the Foothill Farmers’ Market Association general manager, I would be at the market on Saturday. It is where I buy our food for the week. Anyway, after talking our grocery list over, it became clear that I could buy most of the ingredients at the market.
The actual meal preparation wasn’t difficult. We followed the directions as stated in the recipe. We changed a few things. We added more garlic and lots more herbs. We broiled the ribs instead of searing them in the Dutch oven. It is simpler, less messy, and the resulting ribs are far less fatty.
Making the spaetzle was a hoot. We had batter all over the stove. The key to spaetzle is using a colander or a slotted spoon with big enough holes to press the batter through. The mess occurs when you are trying out several tools to get the job done.
And the result? An excellent meal that had the four of us almost inhaling our food. The aroma of the vinegar/wine sauce and the excellent short ribs was intoxicating. We sat down with bowls of herbed spaetzle and short ribs and all conversation stopped. We were too busy eating to talk.
Braised beef short ribs
Makes 4 servings
4 pounds beef short ribs, bone in
Salt and black pepper 3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
3/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
6 roma style tomatoes, seeded and quartered
2 cups chicken stock
3 small fresh thyme sprigs
3 small fresh rosemary sprigs
1. Trim the beef short ribs of any extra fat on the bone side. Season the ribs all over with salt and pepper.
2. Heat broiler to high. Place the ribs on a broiler pan or cookie sheet. Broil the ribs for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until well browned. Set aside. A broiler with a rack works well for this step because it allows the fat to drain away from the meat.
3. Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
4. Place a heavy bottomed Dutch oven on the stove and add the oil. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic to the pan. Cook the vegetables and stir often until browned.
7. Add the wine and vinegar to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan clean. Reduce the liquid by 1/3.
8. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, thyme and rosemary to the pot. Add the ribs and bring the liquid to a boil. The liquid should cover the ribs. Add more chicken stock if you need additional liquid. Cover the pot and place in the oven.
9. Cook the ribs until fork tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The kitchen fork should easily go into the ribs without any resistance.
10. Remove the ribs from the pan. If serving the ribs that day, keep them warm.
11. Using a ladle or spoon, remove the clear fat on the surface of the sauce. Reduce the sauce a little until it becomes more flavorful and thick. It should be able to coat the back of a spoon.
12. Add the ribs back to the pan. Serve or cool.
Makes 4 servings
2 large eggs
3/4 to 1 cup milk
2 teaspoons fresh chives, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, make the spaetzle batter.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, 3/4 cup milk and the herbs. Season the mixture with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Add the flour to the bowl and beat well until incorporated. If the batter is too wet, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add a little milk.
4. Working in batches, press the spaetzle batter through the holes of a colander over the pot of boiling water. The spaetzle should fall in the water. Use a large holed colander or a large holed slotted spoon for this step unless you have a spaetzle maker!
5. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the spaetzle when cooked (they will float) and transfer to a baking sheet. They will cook quickly so be prepared. Drizzle with olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.
6. Repeat until you have used up all the batter. (You can refrigerate up to a day before serving.) Spaetzle should be cooled before proceeding to the next step.
7. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the spaetzle and cook until golden brown, about two minutes.