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!

Spicy Italian Sausage Bolognese

Spicy Italian Sausage Bolognese

Italian sausages, colourful bell peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes with a touch of red wine combine to make this flavourful sauce, my version of bolognese – without all the work!

It can be made spicy or not and can easily be adapted to use the sausages whole, to mix sausages with ground beef or to substitute ground beef completely if you prefer making it one of the most versatile recipes in my collection. Just be sure if you’re using them to buy the best tasting Italian sausages you can find. You will need: 

• Vidalia sweet onion, 1 large

• Olive oil

• Red bell peppers, 2

• Orange bell peppers, 2

• Garlic, 3 cloves or more

• Hot Italian sausages, 4

• Sweet Italian sausages, 4

• Dry red wine, ½ cup

• Marinara sauce, 1 jar (I use Rao’s) *

• Wide noodles, e.g. Pappardelle, 12oz

• Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

• Flat-leaf Italian parsley (optional)

Firstly, peel and chop the onion, core, de-seed and chop the peppers, peel and finely chop the garlic, remove the casings from the sausages and set aside.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion; cook for about 5 minutes until just beginning to soften. Add the chopped peppers, stir to combine, add salt and freshly ground black pepper and continue to cook for about another 5 minutes or so or until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add in the sausage meat, stir to combine and cook for a further 10 minutes or so or until the meat is cooked through and all traces of pink have disappeared. (If using whole sausages, brown them separately in a skillet then slice them thickly on the diagonal before returning them to the pot – they may still be a little pink inside but don’t worry as they will cook through as the sauce cooks.)

Turn up the heat to high, add in the wine and sauce and stir through. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and let simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes; the sauce will have thickened slightly. Turn off the heat.

Meantime, cook the pappardelle noodles in boiling salted water according to the instructions on the package; drain then return to the pan.

Grate about half a cup of Parmigiana Reggiano directly into the sauce and stir to combine; add the noodles and stir again.  Cover and let sit for about five minutes to allow the flavours to meld.

Ladle into bowls, grate over a little extra cheese and garnish with fresh Italian parsley (optional).  Mangiare!

Set aside the leftover sauce, allow to cool then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Braised Pork with Cabbage & Onions

Braised Pork with Cabbage & Onions

Braised Pork with Cabbage & Onions

The tomato and pepper-rich sauce with Italian sausage infuses the pork with flavour while keeping it tender while it cooks. You will need:

• Pork rib roast, 3-4 ribs (or use chops)

• Olive oil

• Leftover spicy sausage sauce, 2 cups

• White cabbage

• Vidalia sweet onion

• Salted butter

• Fennel seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Season the pork roast with salt and pepper then heat about a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and brown the pork well on all sides.  Place into an ovenproof dish (not too large or the meat will dry out); pour over the leftover sauce, cover and put into the oven.  Bake for about 90 minutes or until the meat is just starting to fall off the bones.

About half an hour before the meat is cooked, make Braised Cabbage: Peel off the outer layers of the cabbage and discard, slice the cabbage into inch-thick wedges; remove the skin from the onion and cut into eighths. In a saucepan just large enough to hold both vegetables, add about an inch of cold water then the cabbage and onion.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon each of fennel seeds and salt and a half teaspoon of freshly-ground black pepper, dot generously with butter and cover.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes; almost all of the water will be absorbed and the cabbage and onions will be tender not limp.

Carefully cut the cooked pork roast into individual chops, spoon over the sausage sauce and serve alongside the braised cabbage and onions.

 

* A word about Rao’s. It is a famous Italian restaurant in New York that only a few people can ever get into to eat; the rest of us have to make do with their line of sauces. They are premium quality and yes, premium priced, but well worth it in my opinion. I would even go so far as to say that if you’re Italian and your Nonni makes sauce from scratch that it won’t be better. Long way of saying, try it!

Coq au Vin Reisling chicken

Coq au Vin Reisling chicken

Coq au Vin Reisling, serves 4 with leftovers

A new twist on an old favourite – Reisling replaces the more traditional Burgundy; it’s also quicker and easier to make than traditional coq-au-vin.  The original inspiration for this recipe came from one of my favourite cookbook authors Nigel Slater.  His philosophy towards cooking “use simple ingredients…” is one I embrace.  In my version, leeks and crimini mushrooms replace pearl onions and button mushrooms.  You will need: 

• Pancetta, 4 thin slices, chopped

• Extra virgin olive oil

• Chicken, organic if possible, 6 bone-in, skin on breasts

 Vidalia Sweet onion, one large, peeled and chopped

 Leeks, 2-3 (one bunch), trimmed, whites only, thinly sliced

• Crimini mushrooms, 1 pound, sliced

• Riesling, (or other medium-dry white wine), 1 bottle

I use a Le Creuset pot for this recipe but if you don’t have one, use any ovenproof pot.

Place the pot over medium-high heat and add the pancetta; cook until the fat is mostly rendered and the bacon is starting to crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add some extra virgin olive oil if necessary then brown the chicken well on both sides, in separate batches if the pot is crowded.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

To the remaining oil, add the onions and leeks, season liberally with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until translucent being carefully not to brown, about ten minutes.  Add in the mushrooms and cook for another minute or two.

Raise the heat and add in the riesling, stirring to get up any bits from the bottom of the pan and allow the vegetables to boil for about 2 minutes or until the wine is slightly reduced.  Return the bacon and chicken to the pot, cover, reduce the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 30-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Though not shown in the photo, I like to serve this with crunchy roasted potatoes and steamed green beans along with a glass of the chilled riesling that I use to cook with.  To continue on the French theme and to turn this into an elegant dinner, start with a smooth chicken liver pate and cornichons and end with a chocolatey pudding.

When the extra chicken breasts and sauce have cooled down, put them in a smaller container, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Penne Pasta with Chicken in a White-wine Cream Sauce

Penne Pasta with Chicken in a White-wine Cream Sauce

Penne with Chicken in a White-wine Cream Sauce

You will need:

• Penne pasta, ½ box (I like deCecco brand)

• Leftover chicken and sauce, separated

• Whipping cream, 1 cup

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the directions on the package; drain then return to the pot it was cooked in.

Meantime, in a separate pot, heat the leftover sauce then add in the cream and simmer until heated through and reduced slightly without bringing it to a boil.  Taste and check for seasoning, adding sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper if necessary.

Remove the skin from the chicken breasts and roughly tear the meat into chunks; add to the cream sauce in the pot.

When heated through, add the chicken and sauce to the pot with the cooked pasta and combine.  Let sit for a minute or two, covered, so that the flavours absorb into the penne.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley.  If you’re lucky enough to have another bottle of riesling then a glass or two served alongside would be a great accompaniment for the meal.