Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gearing up for Fall & Winter

Before we get started, I need to get something off my chest:  I really hate the term "comfort food." Living in this current world where we are constantly combatting our weight (I'm totally in this crowd), we're lamenting childhood obesity (yet, how many Americans happily own McDonald's stock?),  and our Land of the Free is actually contemplating outlawing sugary drinks (really...protect us from ourselves, we know not what we do), the characterization of ANY food as comfort completely flies in the face of what we preach about proper eating, eating disorders and the obesity epidemic.  Food isn't supposed to be a source of comfort, happiness, love, acceptance, or stress relief.  At least, that's what we're told. Yet, it is all those things to most of us, in different ways at different times and under different and ever-changing circumstances.  Even so, I hate that term.

So, kids, on with the show!

Neilio loves the cool months and all the comforting foods that come with it.  Before I met him, I was afraid of crockpots.  My worst fear is having my house burn down, so am I leaving an appliance on when I'm not home?  Heck no!  But, once he and I became an item, he wore me down and got me to give it a try.  Now, I look for crockpot recipes, not only because they certainly make life easier, but most of the time, I just like the idea of him coming home after a long day, opening the door and inhaling a comforting aroma that makes him happy he's home.  (Yes, I realize how sappy that sounds, but dammit! it's true.) Of course, not all comfort food has to come out of a crockpot.  Think back to walking into a house filled with the smell of a slow simmering spaghetti sauce, or soup, or a big ol' pot of chili, pot roast, homemade bread.  Well, try this on for size:  beef short ribs simmering away in a red wine reduction sauce with onions, garlic and carrots!

Finished product...short ribs, super rich gravy over mashed potatoes & green beans!
I used 2 lbs of short ribs that I found on sale at Publix.  I seasoned them, dredged them in flour and seared/browned them in olive oil over medium-high heat.  

Seared and ready to rock and roll!
Removed them from the pot and added 1 cup chopped onion.  Sauteed a minute or two and added 1 cup chopped carrots, 1 1/2 tsp thyme, 1 bay leaf and 1 Tbs chopped garlic.  Next, I deglazed the pot with about 3/4 cup red wine (yummm!) then added 4 cups of beef broth.  Brought it up to a boil and then cut to low for a simmer of about 2 hours.  

I just want to dive into this and swim around.
As I was nearing time to serve, I added a cornstarch slurry to thicken my gravy a bit then plated it all up.  The coolest part of it all was the reactions I got.  Upon returning home from karate, the littlest gourmet walked in and said "Wow, it smells YUM in here!"  One of my favorite compliments from the Vivver!  Then, the subtle, yet excited look on Neil's face as he entered and was greeted by the YUM factor. As we made it to the table, Viv was already declaring this as one of her top favorite dinners...and she hadn't even tried a bite yet!  Comforting, indeed!



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