My american idol

I don't really ever talk about other food blogs, but the truth is that I read an insane amount of blogs. Well, to be honest, I do follow a lot of food blogs, but I only read a handful of them. Among those, there is one that whenever I see there is a new entry, either on Facebook or on my Google reader, I stop whatever I am doing and read it from beginning to end. That blog is smitten kitchen.

I am not the only one who likes Deb's writing and recipes. Her 6 year old blog has almost 112,000 fans on Facebook  and her book has been among the top sellers since it was released earlier last fall.

Her witty writing, her perfectionism when cooking, her beautiful pictures and her lovely toddler combine to perfection to make smitten kitchen one of the most read blogs in the world, and the envy of every blogger. Her cookbook, which I got for Christmas, is not only loaded with delicious recipes and pictures, but also makes a great read because every recipe comes with a story or an essay that will make you laugh.

I don't think there is any recipe in the book that I don't want to make. As of these short ribs, I have already made them twice. I thought that no braised meat could ever beat my pork cheeks. However, these short ribs are as good, if not better. I adapted the recipe just a bit, because I always like to blend the vegetables with the sauce for a richer flavor and thicker consistency.

If you make it, DO NOT SKIP the parsnip puree. The combination of the parsnip and horseradish flavor of the puree with the sauce of the meat is just AMAZING.

Balsamic and beer-braised short ribs with parsnip purée
Serves 3-4, adapted slightly from The smitten kitchen cookbook

5 lb (about 2 kg) bone-in short ribs( about 6 to 10 depending on the size), separated and trimmed of excess fat
1 large red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup (120 ml) balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 bottles (24 oz or 660 ml) dark beer
2 to 3 cups (475 ml to 710 ml) beef stock
Olive oil, salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 325° F (160° C).

Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy pot or dutch oven over high heat and add olive oil to coat the bottom. Brown the short ribs on all sides, in batches, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Remove all but one tablespoon of the fat from the pot. Add the red onion and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant,  about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook stirring for about 2 minutes.

Add the vinegar, beer and Worcestershire sauce, scraping the brown bits stuck in the bottom of the pot. Return the ribs to the pot, meaty side down if you have space to arrange them in one layer, or vertical if you don't. Add beef stock so it covers the ribs completely. Bring to a simmer.

Turn of the heat, cover and put in the preheated oven. Braised for about two and a half to three hours, or until the meat is super tender and falling off the bone.

At this point you have two options: refrigerate over night or keep going. If you choose to refrigerate it, the next day discard most of the fat that will have solidified on the top and put the pot back over low-medium until heated up. 

Remove the ribs from pot. Puree the sauce in a blender to give the sauce a better consistency. Pour sauce back in pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced by a third. Arrange the ribs on a serving platter or in plates and pour the sauce over. Serve with parsnip purée. 

Parsnip purée

2 lb (1 kg) parsnips, peeled and sliced into big chunks
4 tbsp (55 g or 1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
1 tbsp prepared horseradish sauce or freshly grated horseradish
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot combine parsnip with enough cold water to cover. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Drain.

Puree hot parsnips,horseradish, butter, heavy cream, salt and pepper until smooth.

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