Bon Appétit (February 2016)
There's something Nigella Lawson said once on her cooking show, and now, even a decade after we first heard her say it, it pops into our head from time to time.
We forget now what she was actually making that day, but it was some long-cooking thing like a braise or a stew. And Nigella said, in that gorgeous syrupy accent of hers, that quick dinners are great, but "there are other times when you really want to inhabit your kitchen."
We've always loved that idea. When you're not rushing to get a meal on the table for a midweek dinner, cooking can be an incredibly pleasant thing. When you have an opportunity to slow down and take your time, an afternoon in the kitchen can be lovely. You can truly inhabit your kitchen.
The current issue of Bon Appétit has a feature devoted to the joys of slow-cooking on a Sunday, called "On the Seventh Day, We Cook." There's a dish of Braised Duck Legs with Polenta and Wilted Chard and a Kimchi-Braised Chicken with Bacon that we'd love to try.
This past Sunday, a damp, dreary cold day that was perfect for inhabiting our kitchen, we set about making these Roasted Short Ribs With Cauliflower And Celery.
The truth is, while this recipe does take a long time -- more than four hours from start to finish for us -- it's actually not a ton of active time. (For all our talk of inhabiting the kitchen, we did a lot of inhabiting the sofa that afternoon...) The short ribs hang out in the oven for a long time, but the rest is very easy chopping, blending and slicing.
After four hours of anticipation, four hours of delicious aromas wafting from the oven, we sat down to eat it.
And we didn't like it.
Like, not at all.
The short ribs did develop a nice, almost crackly skin that we enjoyed. The flavor of the ribs themselves was fine.
And the cauliflower was good, although we had to add way more cream -- perhaps double the amount -- to get the creamy-whipped consistence of the cauliflower in Bon App's photo. The creamed cauliflower was simple but tasty.
It's just the dish as a whole. It's kind of a mess.
Really, the problem for us -- the thing that killed the whole dish -- was the random celery and hazelnut salad thrown atop the ribs. We appreciate a contrast in flavor and texture and (we suppose) temperature. But the raw, cold celery salad fought the rest of the plate rather than complementing it. (Remember last summer when we made those kooky pork chops with a cold, raw beet-and-carrot salad dumped on top of them? Can we please call a ban on salads-on-top-of-roast-meat?)
In the end, this just wasn't for us.
We still love the thought of inhabiting our kitchen. We just don't want to inhabit it with this.
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 4-inch English-style bone-in beef short ribs (about 3 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 head of cauliflower (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salad And Assembly
1/2 cup blanched or skin-on hazelnuts
2 celery stalks, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced on a diagonal; plus ¼ cup celery leaves
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil or olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 275°. Slice garlic, sprinkle with salt, and mash to a paste on a cutting board using the side of a chef’s knife; place in a small bowl. Mix in rosemary, oil, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.
Season ribs generously with salt and pepper and place in a medium cast-iron skillet. Coat all over with garlic paste and cover skillet tightly with foil. Cook on upper rack in oven, checking for doneness after 1½ hours, until meat is fork-tender and falling off the bone, 2½–3 hours. Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, place cauliflower in a small baking dish. Rub all over with oil; season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and place in oven next to ribs. Bake until cauliflower is very easily pierced with a paring knife, 1½–2½ hours.
Transfer hot cauliflower to a blender and add cream. Blend until very smooth; season with salt and pepper. Place in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
Salad And Assembly
While the ribs and cauliflower are cooking, scatter hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast on bottom rack, tossing once, until golden brown, 30–35 minutes. Let cool, then rub together in a kitchen towel to remove skins, if using skin-on nuts. Coarsely chop and set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 450°. Uncover ribs and return to oven, placing on top rack. Roast, basting with fat from skillet every couple of minutes, until a deep brown crust develops, 12–15 minutes.
Toss celery, celery leaves, parsley, and reserved hazelnuts in a medium bowl to combine. Drizzle with oil and vinegar and toss to coat; season celery salad with salt and pepper.
Serve short ribs over cauliflower purée with celery salad on top.