Winter Wonderland?

Sure it looks pretty but this is one hell of a storm that’s blowing through the midwest tonight.  With wind chills expected around -40F tomorrow it’s going to be interesting to see how Central Indiana makes it through this one!

Stay safe everyone!

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Split Pea Soup with Ham

Even though we’ve had an incredibly mild winter I still can’t help but want some of the comfort foods that go along with this time of year.  This is a classic rendition of that childhood favorite (at least mine anyway).  It’s simple to prepare and any leftovers will freeze and reheat well.

Split Pea Soup w/ Ham

1 Pound dried split peas
1 Smoked ham hock
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 Cup finely chopped celery
1/2 Cup finely chopped carrots
2 Teaspoons minced garlic
1 Pound Smithfield ham, chopped
1 Teaspoon salt
3/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 Cups water
1 Bay leaf
2 Teaspoons fresh thyme

  • Place the peas in a large pot or bowl, cover with water by 2 inches and soak 8 hours or overnight.
  • Drain the peas and set aside.
  • Score the ham hock. Place in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  • Add the celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the ham hock and ham and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown.
  • Add the drained peas, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
  • Add 8 cups of water, the bay leaf and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. (Add more water as needed, if the soup becomes too thick or dry.)
  • Remove the bay leaf and discard. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve immediately.

Optional – Top with homemade croutons and/or crumbled bacon!

 

Braised Short Ribs

It’s officially cold in the Hoosier State and that means I’m in the mood for hearty comfort food that makes the house smell incredible (and helps keep the winter blues at bay).  My wife and I had an incredible tasting menu at Pizzology last year (special New Years Eve event) and the Braised Short Ribs stood out to me more than everything else (although it was all very good).  After that meal I knew I had to try to replicate the dish and start serving it to the family on a semi-regular basis.

English Cut Short Ribs

There are two different types of Short Rib cuts.  The ribs can be separated and cut into short lengths (typically about 2 inches long), called an “English cut” or the “flanken cut” which is achieved by cutting across the bones (typically about 1/2 inch thick).  This recipe calls for the English Cut and will need 2 ribs per person.

Flanken Cut Short Ribs

Once reduced the cooking liquid can be thickened with a roux or served as is.  The ribs go very well with a starch such as mashed parsnips, or potatoes.

One of the most consistent source for English Style Short Ribs in Central Indiana has been The Fresh Market in Broad Ripple and Carmel.  Even if they don’t have them in the case just ask, they’ll most likely cut them fresh for you.

 Braised Short Ribs (serves 4)

1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon (Spend around $10-12)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 short ribs, trimmed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
Flour, for dredging
10 cloves garlic, peeled
8 large shallots, peeled, and split in half
2 medium carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 stalks celery, peeled, and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped
6 sprigs Italian parsley
4 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 quarts unsalted beef stock or chicken stock
Freshly ground white pepper
Kosher Salt

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large casserole, large enough to hold 6 ribs, over medium-high heat. Season the ribs all over with salt and the crushed pepper. Dust the ribs with flour and then when the oil is hot, place the ribs into the pot and sear for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until well browned.

Transfer the browned ribs to a plate. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot; lower the heat to medium, and toss in the vegetables and herbs. Brown the vegetables lightly, 6 to 7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute to blend.

Add the wine, browned ribs, and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil; cover the pot tightly, and slide it into the oven to braise for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the ribs are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork. Every 30 minutes or so, lift the lid and skim and discard whatever fat may have bubbled up to the surface.

Carefully transfer the meat to a heated serving platter with a lip and keep warm. Boil the pan liquid until it thickens and reduces to approximately 1 quart. Season with salt and pepper and pass through a fine-mesh strainer; discard the solids.

Pour the sauce over the meat. Serve with vegetables of your choice.