{ new year’s eve dinner }

{ new year's eve dinner }

classic braised short ribs 
+ 
cheesy sweet potato quinoa

As we near the end of eating season, it would be easy to throw in the towel. To just say, enough is enough. And, if I’m being completely honest here, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m getting pretty close to throwing in the towel. I’ve been eating for sheer sport. Punctuating each goal or bank shot of the season with a heavy-handed pour of champagne or vodka or fill-in-the-blank. It would be easy to quit at this point and start eating healthy. I’m thinking juicing and kale salads and stuff like that. But I’ve never been a quitter.

I’m here to steer us both in the right direction. New Year’s Eve is the super bowl of eating. This is not a time in which to sip demurely from your straw as you take in a heady dose of pureed beet greens, ginger and lemon. Nope. Let’s not let go of 2014 without a good gluttonous fight. The below meal could be utilized in a number of ways. I’ve been known to make my parents dinner on New Year’s Eve and then they let my babies have a sleepover… and then I get to tear it up. If that’s the case, the below meal is perfect. If I am feeling a little sleepy, this is a meal that elevates the last evening of the year (and my kids will scarf this up). I could also easily whip this up and serve about eight grown ups (and order the kids pizza). In other words, unless you’re eating out, make this.

Like most everything I make, I try to find ways to make it easy. You can make this entire meal the day before. I would just prepare the cheesy quinoa and hold off on popping it into the oven until right before dinner…this would stay nice and happy in the fridge for the night. I would actually encourage you to make the ribs a day ahead of serving…if you let this mingle in the fridge for the night, you’ll be able to scoop off the extra fat that will have solidified over the top. That doesn’t sound very appetizing. But you’ll be left with a very seductive and joyous sauce. For a green side dish, let’s keep it easy. Trader Joe’s has the yummiest cruciferous blend (kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts shredded)…toss this with lots of fresh lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt, pepper and loads of finely grated Parmesan. Don’t forget a couple of good crusty loaves of bread to soak in the juice and smear with copious amounts of softened garlic. You’ll really dazzle under the last leaf of mistletoe at midnight.

Boom. Dinner’s done. Now you can focus on the important stuff. Like what to drink.

classic braised short ribs + cheesy sweet potato quinoa

Makes 6-8 Main Course Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
  • 3 slices (about ¼ lb) bacon, chopped (I use kitchen scissors to cut these up)
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half, across the top (to reveal the tops of the cloves)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound carrots, clean and slice in thick ½ inch rounds (about 4 good-sized carrots)
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in thin slices
  • 2 1/2 cups good red wine (sounds pretentious…but it matters…go for a Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 3 1/2 cups beef stock
  • ½ cup Marsala or Madeira
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 sprig of thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Spray an extra large Dutch oven with nonstick spray (if you aren’t using a nonstick pan) and put ½ tbsp. of olive oil in there to keep the bacon from sticking. That’s right, I cook my bacon in oil. Don’t judge. Heat your Dutch oven over medium heat and cook the bacon until nice and crispy. When done set the bacon aside.
  3. In the same pan, add a little more olive oil if you need more lube in the pan. Generously salt and pepper your short ribs and throw them in on a medium-high heat. Let them cook about 2 minutes per side. We don’t want to cook them…just give them a nice crust to seal in some juice. You’ll have to do this in batches. You’re creating flavor in the dish right now…don’t rush this step. Set the finished ribs on a platter while you finish browning the rest.
  4. When done browning the meat, put the carrots, onions and celery in the pan with the bacon and short-rib juice (or grease, depends on how you look at life) and cook until the onions are translucent. About 3 minutes.
  5. Put your 3 tablespoons of tomato paste in the pan and cook until silky and glistening.
  6. Add your wine, beef stock, Madiera or Marsala and Worcestershire sauce to the pan…scraping the bottom to make sure you’ve loosened all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Put the short ribs and the bacon back in the pan. Add the thyme, bay, rosemary and the head of garlic. Turn the heat to high and get a boil going. You’ll notice there is a lot of juice in here…I like things saucy. It will cook down…so don’t fret.
  8. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and put in the oven for a minimum of 3 hours…until the ribs are starting to look really relaxed. I want the whole dish looking pretty sloppy at this point. Meat bobbing about and bones floating like canoes. Then we’re in business. { If you are serving the ribs the following evening, place the whole Dutch oven in the refrigerator. About 45 minutes before you plan on eating the dish, skim the fat off of the top of the dish in the pot. Do this while your guests aren’t around….it doesn’t really stoke the appetite. Then place the Dutch oven on the stovetop and reheat. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes. Once the meat is heated through, follow with the below steps. }
  9. Meanwhile, mix the 4 tablespoons of flour with the 4 tablespoons of softened butter to make a paste.
  10. Transfer short ribs and veggies to a deep serving platter (that will have lots of room for the sauce). Discard any rogue bones.
  11. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisk in the butter-flour mixture and then lower the heat to a simmer while constantly stirring until the sauce starts to thicken. Once thickened, taste again. Taste good? Adjust with salt and pepper to your taste. It could be just fine…or you may want more salt. You decide.
  12. Pour the sauce over the short ribs on the platter and garnish with the chopped parsley and more sprigs of thyme or rosemary…get crafty.
  13. For those of you that love your slow cooker, you could start this in the Dutch oven and then move the whole thing to a slow cooker once you’re ready to put the meat and the liquid all together…you could just toss it in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low. Boom.
  14. These will taste even better a day-ish later. Just food for thought.

cheesy sweet potato quinoa

Makes 8 Side Servings

This is my latest obsession. I’m just saying. It’s delicious. #iheartquinoa

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (look here for how to cook…3 cups cooked is about 1 ½ cups of dry quinoa)
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup Fontina cheese
  • ¼ cup Gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • ½ cup onion, finely minced
  • 1 cup cooked and peeled sweet potato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir to combine for about 30 seconds.
  3. Whisk in the milk.
  4. Add the onion and sweet potato. Using an emersion blender combine until the mixture is smooth. You could also do this in a blender.
  5. Add the bay leaf and paprika and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the bay leaf. Taste. Does it need more salt? I tend to get a little nutty with the salt.
  7. Add all but ½ cup of the cheese and stir until smooth and velvety. Quick side note on the cheese…you could easily use all cheddar cheese. I just like to mix it up. Don’t stress and use what you have if you don’t feel like going to the store.
  8. Dump in your quinoa and mix to combine.
  9. Pour the cheesy quinoa into a 1 ½ quart casserole dish that’s been either sprayed with nonstick or massaged with butter so nothing sticks.
  10. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in another saucepan and toss the panko breadcrumbs in there. When the breadcrumbs are nice and coated sprinkle on the top of the quinoa.
  11. Pop in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top gets toasty.

I swear I’m getting healthy in the new year. Really. No, really.  I swear. I think. We’ll see.

P.S. It’s hard to find my newsletter sign in. See the three horizontal lines in the upper right-corner? Click on that and you’ll find it in there. I’d love to make it into your inbox weekly. Happy eating!


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