Shopping the Farmers Market: Why Blog

After years of frequenting the farmers markets in NYC, but only buying a few supplemental ingredients here or there, I decided to be experimental and work dishes around what is in season or looks particularly mouthwatering at the market that day. Green seems to be the buzz word these days from NYC to the White House, and the eat local movement is in full swing. My attempt here is to buy as many ingredients as possible from a the farmers market, and then occasionally supplement with locally produced ingredients from chain markets around the city. Most of the recipes I post (except for the baking recipes) are either things I created myself, or variations on recipes I've found elsewhere. I hope that you take the recipes and shopping tips here and they inspire you to do your own local cooking.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Short Ribs, Long on Flavor

I recently realized that a good portion of the dishes that I make are Asian influenced. I guess if I had become a professional chef I probably would have worked in some type of Asian fusion restaurant. My mother, who isn't the biggest fan of Asian cuisine, has been complaining that she wants me to blog about more dishes that she would like. So in some ways, today's dish is dedicated to her.

Despite the fact that I made a beef stir fry a couple of weeks ago, I rarely cook meat at home. For some reason I've always left beef for special occasions. Filet mignon always seems to be my go-to dish for boyfriends' birthdays. In fact, October is a popular birthday month for me. My sister-in-law, my niece, three of my close friends from childhood, all have birthdays in October. I have a friend and an ex-boyfriend who's birthday is today, and my half-birthday was on Saturday..if you celebrate things like that. I think that's enough special occasions in one month to warrant a meat dinner. Instead of cooking my usual filet, I thought I'd branch out and try a meat that I hadn't cooked before, but is one of my favorites...short ribs.

Short ribs are most likely beef, but can also come in the pork variety. They can either be slow cooked, or quickly pan seared. I thought I'd go with the slow-cook method. I based my recipe off of an Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) recipe I got online, so I had a list when I went to the farmers market.

I spent the morning shopping at the Brooklyn Flea, so thought it would be a nice idea to try the Fort Greene farmers market. Set at the entrance to the park, there were a dozen or so tables with a variety of vegetables, fish, and poultry, but no meat. I decided to pick up some basic veggies there, then head to Union Square for the rest.

I bought celery and carrots for around $2/bunch, and two small yellow onions for around $1. I probably could have picked up red wine there, but the organic wines will run you close to $40, and I thought that seemed impractical for a wine I was going to cook with. I will mention that there were some lovely flowers called Lisianthus at the Ft. Greene market. I'd never seen them before, but thought they would make a beautiful addition to a table.

Once in Union Square I picked up the short ribs for $7/lb at the meat vendor. At 3lbs, it was a little pricey, but well worth it for a special occasion. I spotted some fingerling potatoes that I thought would be good as a side. I was going to go for the purple ones that would be great for color, but the sign said that they tasted kind of starchy, so I stuck with the red French variety. I managed to get a bunch of leeks, a fennel bulb, and some rosemary and thyme all at the same table for around $7, which was good, because the market was so crowded yesterday that I couldn't wait to get back on the subway.

Today I purchased:

At the Farmers Market:
3 lbs of beef short ribs
2 small yellow onions
1 bunch of celery
1 bunch of carrots
1 bunch of leeks
1 fennel bulb
1 lb. of red French Fingerling potatoes

At a Supermarket:
Beef stock
Tomato paste

At a Liquor Store:
1 bottle of Cotes du Rhone wine

Supplementary Ingredients I had at Home:
Olive oil
Brown sugar

Recipe: Braised Short Ribs with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes


4-6 beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, fronds, stems, and core removed, roughly diced
1 leek, white part only, roughly diced
2 small onions, chopped
4 cups of roughly diced celery
2 carrots peeled, and roughly diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon of orange zest
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 bottle of Cotes du Rhone wine
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Fresh thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
6 cups of beef broth
1 lb of red French fingerling potatoes

The recipe I looked at called for roasting the short ribs for 15 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees. I felt that my ribs turned out a little tough, and I wonder if this was the reason. I'd recommend pan searing instead. I would salt and pepper the ribs, then pan sear for about 5 minutes on each side on medium-high heat. Once you've done that, set them aside.

In the meantime, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil on medium low heat in a large dutch oven. Saute the onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and fennel for about 20 minutes. This creates a slightly advanced version of a mirepoix (usually just carrots, celery, and onions), which is a flavor base for many dishes. After 20 minutes add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, wine, and orange zest and bring to a boil over high heat, cooking for 10 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. Tie the rosemary and thyme sprigs together with cooking string and add to the pot.

Place the ribs on top of the vegetables in the dutch oven. Add the brown sugar, and the beef stock. Bring to a simmer on the stove, then cover and bake in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours.

About 15 minutes before the meat is ready to come out, cut the potatoes in half. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then chop up a couple of tablespoons of the remaining thyme and rosemary and add that to the bowl. Mix until coated. Put the potatoes in a roasting pan.

Once the meat comes out, you can tell that it's done if it's falling off of the bone. Turn the oven up to 450 and roast the potatoes for about 30 - 45 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. They should be soft when pricked with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking carefully remove the short ribs from the dutch oven. Also remove the herbs and skim off any excess fat. Turn the heat on the vegetables and sauce up to medium and cook for 20 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens.

Once this occurs put two ribs on each plate and spoon sauce and vegetables over them. Add the roasted potatoes to the plate and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

As I stated earlier, I found my meat to be a little tougher than I would have liked, but the flavor was amazing. I ended up saving the remaining liquid in a container and sticking it in the freezer to use later as a stock for another dish. The flavor was so concentrated that it would easily add depth to whatever I make with it.

I hope you enjoy this hearty fall dish if you decide to make it, and happy birthday to everyone with an October birthday.

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