Vegetables are gently sautéed then combined with red wine, beef broth and herbs in which beef short ribs are slowly braised until meltingly tender; served to friends on Friday, it was the perfect meal for a winter’s night. On Sunday, a day during football season when we typically crash in front of TV all day, I made an easy second meal be re-heating the leftover meat and sauce and serving it over wide pappardelle noodles. Ty it!

Braised Beef Short-Ribs

Braised Beef Short-Ribs

Braised Beef Short-Ribs, serves 4 with leftovers 

This is a simpler version of a recipe from Ina Garten, otherwise known as The Barefoot Contessa. You will need:

• Beef short ribs, cut “English-style”, 2 per person plus 4 extra

• Olive oil

• Onion, Vidalia, 1 large, peeled & chopped

• Carrots, 2 large, peeled and chopped

• Celery, 4 large ribs, sliced crosswise

• Leeks, 2 large, white part only, sliced crosswise (optional)

• Garlic, 3-4 cloves, peeled & chopped

• Tomato paste, 2 heaped tablespoons

• Full-bodied red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon), 2 cups

• Fresh rosemary, 1-2 sprigs

• Fresh thyme, 3-4 sprigs

• Beef Broth (I used Imagine Brand), 6 cups

If using meat from the fridge, let it sit out for about an hour beforehand.

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Pat the ribs dry, season with salt and pepper and place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; roast for 15 minutes in the oven then set aside.

Turn the oven down to 300F.

While the meat is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other ovenproof pot that can hold all of the ribs. Add the onion, carrot & celery (and leeks if using them) and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes (do not allow to brown). Time spent here helps develop the flavour of the dish.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Raise the heat; stir in the tomato paste to combine then pour in the wine; keep at a brisk simmer for 10 minutes until the wine has reduced and thickened.

If you have kitchen string, tie together sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme or simply add sprigs of each herb to the pot. I give rough quantities because sometimes rosemary sprigs are large, woody and pungent and sometimes less so; use your best judgement.

Add the ribs to the pot in a single layer (you may have to put them in upright) and add 4 cups or more of beef broth, enough to just cover the meat. Place the lid on the pot and place the pot into the pre-heated oven for 3 hours or until the meat is just starting to fall off the bones.

Allow the leftover meat and sauce to cool completely then store separately, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Beef in a Red Wine Sauce over Noodles

Beef in a Red Wine Sauce over Noodles

Beef in a Red Wine Sauce over Noodles

Simple and delicious; if anything it tastes even better second time around. You will need:

• Leftover cooked beef short ribs, 4

• Leftover sauce (I had 4 cups)

• Pappardelle noodles (or pasta of your choice), enough for two

Remove the bones and discard any rough cartilage from the ribs then shred the meat.

Heat up the leftover sauce in a pot, add the beef and simmer gently over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until heated through (if it cooks for much longer it may start to dry out).

Meantime, cook pasta in a large pot in rapidly boiling salted water as per the instructions on the package – my noodles were cooked in 6 minutes.

Drain the pasta and add it to the meat sauce off the heat, cover and let sit for about 3-5 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. It’s delicious as is but you could also grate over some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano. If you have an extra bottle of red wine it would be perfect served alongside. Enjoy!

In my last post, I shared a recipe for Stove-Top Pot Roast and a suggestion for how leftovers could be turned into the filling for individual meat pies. Here, I’m sharing a variation of the recipe to demonstrate its versatility, taking a weekday meal and turning it into a dish that’s elegant enough to serve to company. Simply make the pot-roast ahead of time, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 3 days while the flavours intensify, add sautéed mushrooms and a pastry topping and dinner is ready.

Make-Ahead Braised Beef and Mushrooms

Make-Ahead Braised Beef and Mushrooms

Make-Ahead Braised Beef and Mushrooms

You will need:

• Stove-Top Pot Roast (follow recipe below), large vegetables removed

• Butter

• All-purpose flour

• Olive oil

• Crimini mushrooms, 1lb, sliced

• Fresh thyme

• Frozen Puff pastry, thawed

• Egg, 1, lightly beaten

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Skim any fat that has come to the surface of the pot roast and with your clean hands, remove any excess fat or gristle on the meat and tear it into bite-sized pieces. Return the meat to the pot, place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Meantime, make a paste by combining one ounce of butter with a heaped tablespoon of flour and gradually add it to the bubbling broth, stirring until it thickens slightly. Reduce the heat and let the meat and gravy simmer gently on the stove.

Heat a couple of glugs of oil in a large skillet, add the mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat. Add freshly ground black pepper and the leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme and continue to cook until the mushrooms start to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add a knob of butter and swirl the pan to coat the mushrooms. Carefully add the mushrooms to the meat and gravy in the pot and stir to combine.

Unroll the puff pastry onto a lightly floured board – each sheet will serve four. Don’t worry about rolling it out (if you’re like me and don’t bake you may not even own a rolling pin) but do trim the pastry with a sharp knife to make a “perfect” square. Using the same sharp knife, make diagonal cuts to create four pastry triangles from each sheet.

Lightly grease a baking sheet(s), place the pastry triangles on top and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Use the time the pastry is baking to cook vegetables, for example cauliflower and green beans.

Ladle the meat and mushroom mixture onto dinner plates, top with the pastry triangles, serve vegetables alongside and garnish with sprigs of thyme. A glass or two of the same red wine you used to cook the pot roast would be perfect alongside.

This originally started as an easier and dare I say it healthier way of making beef stew.  Firstly, because I dislike what’s sold as “stewing” beef which is often tough and tasteless and secondly – and if I’m honest perhaps more importantly, because it’s a lot less work.  

Chuck or blade roast is gently simmered with root vegetables, red wine and herbs and the meat is cut up once it’s cooked – no individually browning little cubes of meat.

Alongside, I make a lighter version of scalloped potatoes using chicken broth in place of milk or cream. It’s an easy meal for a weeknight but also elegant enough to serve for company. 

Stove-Top Pot Roast

Stove-Top Pot Roast

Stove-Top Pot Roast

You will need:

• Olive oil

• Chuck or Blade roast, 5lbs

• Sweet Vidalia onion, 1 large, peeled & chopped

• Garlic, 3 large cloves, peeled & sliced

• Carrots, 3 large, peeled & cut into pieces

• Parsnips, 3 large, peeled & cut into pieces

• Fresh rosemary

• Fresh thyme

• Dry red wine, 1 cup (or an extra cup of broth)

• Beef broth, 2 cups

• Butter

• All-purpose flour

I used (and recommend using) an oval Le Creuset pot that is slightly larger than the roast.  Of course you can use a large saucepan but you may need to slightly increase the cooking time.

Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in the pot and brown the meat well on all sides then set aside (this is sooo much easier than browning stewing meat).

Add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté gently until they start to soften (don’t allow to burn), about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and parsnips, toss to combine and cook for another 5 minutes. Add a sprig or two of rosemary (if they are large, just use one) and 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme; if you have kitchen string, you can tie the herbs into bundles making it easier to fish them out later.

Turn up the heat, add in the red wine and cook for about 2 minutes to thicken slightly. Add in the beef broth. Return the meat to the pot, bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, covered, for about 90 minutes or until the meat is tender and the vegetables are cooked but still holding their shape.

Remove what’s left of the stalks of rosemary and thyme and throw them away. Remove the meat to a chopping board and slice thickly then arrange on a serving platter. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and arrange them on the same platter. Turn up the heat under the broth left in the pot. Make a paste combining an ounce of butter with a large tablespoon of flour then add it to the pot. Stir and continue to cook for a few minutes until the broth has thickened slightly.  Pour some of the gravy over the meat & vegetables and reserve the remainder.

Set aside leftover meat and gravy (not the vegetables) until cool then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

A Lighter Version of Scalloped Potatoes

A Lighter Version of Scalloped Potatoes

A Lighter Version of Scalloped Potatoes

You will need:

• Yukon Gold potatoes, 6 large

• Chicken Broth (I used Campbell’s)

• Butter

• Fresh thyme

Wash but don’t peel the potatoes then slice them thinly; you can use a mandolin but it’s also easy enough to just use a sharp knife.

Place the potatoes in an ovenproof dish in overlapping slices (you’ll end up with about three layers in a 9×13 dish), season with salt and pepper, sprinkle over the leaves from 1-2 sprigs of thyme, pour over about a cup of chicken broth, enough to come halfway up the sides of the dish, dot with butter then cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes or so or until the top is golden. Serve immediately.

Individual Beef & Mushroom Pot Pies

Individual Beef & Mushroom Pot Pies

Individual Beef & Mushroom Pot Pies (2)

You will need:

• Leftover meat and gravy, 2 cups or more

• Olive oil

• Crimini or baby portabella mushrooms, 8oz

• Fresh thyme

• Butter

• All purpose flour

• Frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator

• Egg, 1, lightly beaten

Pre-heat oven to 400F

Wipe (don’t wash) then thinly slice the mushrooms. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat then add the mushroom slices; season with freshly ground black pepper and the leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme. Cook for about 10 minutes or until all the moisture has been absorbed and the mushrooms are starting to caramelize. Add a knob of butter, swirl it around in the skillet to coat the mushrooms then remove from the heat.

While the mushrooms are cooking, tear or cut the meat into small pieces, removing any fat or gristle. Re-heat the leftover meat and sauce in a pan. Add the sautéed mushroom mixture and stir together; this now becomes the filling for your pies. Leave the filling over low heat while you make the pastry toppings.

Lay each sheet of pastry on a surface that’s lightly dusted with flour (I used my granite counter-top). Place the ovenproof bowl on the pastry upside down and cut around it, leaving about a half inch of extra pastry. Repeat. (I used both slices of pastry).

Ladle the beef and mushroom filling into each bowl then top with the puff pastry, pressing the pastry around the rims to seal, then brush with beaten egg. Score a vent in the top of each pie then set the bowls on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.