Estofado de Catalan These Spanish-style short ribs are certainly in the Insalata’s Hall of Fame. We have a list of people to call when we run them as a special. The combination of sherry, orange and chocolate are seductive and a great match up with the rich and meaty ribs. Choose meaty short ribs—4 ribs each, cut across the bone into 2-inch wide slabs. We accompany this hearty braise with roast carrots, parsnips and cippolini onions. Our starch of choice is mashed potatoes, but creamy polenta or pappardelle noodles would work equally well. You can also serve a traditional Spanish side dish such as fried potatoes with these ribs. Short ribs: 5-5 1/2 pounds short ribs of beef 4 tablespoons olive oil 2 cups yellow onions, cut into chunks (about 2 medium onions) 1 cup carrots, cut into chunks (about 2 carrots) 1/2 cup celery, cut into chunks (about 1 stalk of celery) 2 teaspoons mashed garlic (about 2 cloves) 2 cups red wine 1/2 cup tomato paste 8 ounces canned plum tomatoes, cut into chunks 12 cups beef stock or good quality, low-sodium, store-bought beef stock 1 sprig fresh thyme Sauce: 2 cups dry sherry 3 tablespoons unsweetened chocolate 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (about 2 oranges) 2 tablespoons unsalted butter Gremolata: 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley Extra virgin olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste Serves 6 To make the short ribs, preheat oven to 300˚. Generously salt and pepper the ribs. In a large casserole pan, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the ribs and brown on all sides until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the ribs and set aside. Sauté carrots, celery, onion and garlic in the same pan until well caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Add red wine and cook over high heat until the red wine is reduced by half. Stir in tomato paste, tomatoes and thyme. Add browned ribs and beef stock. Bring to a boil, cover and bake for approximately 3 hours, or until meat pulls easily away from the bone. A long, slow braise is the key here. Cooking at too high of a temperature will result in a flavorless, tough, stringy meat. It tastes even better if it’s made the day before. No rushing necessary! To make the sauce, remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Strain the remaining sauce through a colander, and then through a fine mesh strainer, into a large casserole pan. Add the sherry and reduce the sauce by half. Stir in the chocolate, thyme, marjoram, orange zest and butter. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Return the ribs to the pan an simmer until heated through, approximately 2 minutes. To make the gremolata, mix together parsley and orange zest in a small bowl. To serve, mound 1/2 cup of starch of your choice, such as mashed potatoes in the center of 6 warm shallow bowls. Put 2-3 short ribs on top of the mashed potatoes. Spoon the sauce over the short ribs, and sprinkle with the gremolata. Sidebar Though Catalan cuisine is Spanish and consumed in Spain, Catalan cuisine looks outwards towards mainland Europe and the Mediterranean. Many of the ingredients that are used in Catalan cooking are familiar, but the unusual and unexpected combinations of those familiar ingredients are what sets Catalan cooking apart. The addition of chocolate and fruit in savory dishes is a classic Catalan combination. Also note the interesting fish and fruit combination in the Catalan relish that accompanies the salmon wrapped in grape leaves. These unusual combinations result in complex flavors, distinct from traditional European and Mediterranean cuisine.
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