What the heck happened to December? Going through my day-to-day motions, the days seemed to drag on for, what seemed like, ever. Looking back though, I feel like I missed the entire month, with Christmas seeming only like a distant memory. I was convinced that once I graduated from college that I would have all this extra time on my hands to finally do many of the things that I had been putting off for the last three and a half years. Now, instead of my days being filled with writing papers on public policy in criminal justice, my days are consumed with tea parties and playing ‘house’ with my daughter. I certainly wouldn’t change spending time with my princess for anything, but finding some ‘me time’ has become nearly impossible (and much needed).
Because my daughter has been demanding so much of my attention (if she stops playing for more than 30 seconds she stomps her foot and declares her boredom to everyone within earshot), I have relied on meals that can either be prepped and on its way cooking well ahead of time, or prepared in a flash. This has both worked for and against me. My kids are incredibly picky (come to think of it, my husband isn’t all too easy to please either – food wise, of course ). Each of my children likes different dishes than the next. Landon and Alainna adore mac n’ cheese but Shayne won’t touch the stuff (how anyone can not like cheese is beyond me). Shayne will eat asparagus until he turns green, but Landon and Alainna shiver at the thought of eating the perfectly roasted green spears. Because of this, I am usually in the kitchen making a different meal for each of the kids and settling on a handful of salty roasted almonds and tart dried cherries as dinner for myself.
Not liking what was made for dinner was never ‘rewarded’ by having separate meals prepared during my childhood or during my husband’s childhood. My husband was lucky enough to only have to sit at the table until he finally finished his dinner. In my household growing up, plates full of food went flying across the room if we didn’t eat. Eating dinners with meat, or even worse, canned tuna was particularly difficult for me, being a vegetarian and all (something my parents refused to recognize until I was in my teens). Because I have dealt with having to eat foods that I do not like, I can empathize with my kids about their dislike for certain foods and nearly all one-pot meals. Even still, it is frustrating, time consuming, and expensive to accommodate so many different preferences.
This meal, of course, is no exception. Shayne has become my ‘occasional vegetarian’ (who still eats roasted and court bouillon shrimp, deli turkey, chicken nuggets, heck, he even asked for a hot dog last week). He refused to try these short ribs, but did eat the mashed potatoes, but not without objecting to the amount of pepper I added first. Alainna and Landon declined the meal altogether, so poor Kris was left to eat three meals worth of short ribs and mashed potatoes. Thankfully, he didn’t complain (and actually claimed to enjoy the meal) about it because my fuse was already pretty short and he would have been on the receiving end of some nasty backlash.
- 6-8 short ribs (I used boneless - yes, on purpose!)
- 8 thin slices pancetta diced
- 2 carrots small dice
- 2 stalks celery small dice
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic rough chop
- 4 cups beef broth (I used low sodium. For beer braised short ribs, obviously use beer!)
- 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup flour (all-purpose)
- salt & pepper to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ⅓ teaspoon black pepper. Be sure to use less salt if using full sodium beef broth)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Add flour to a shallow dish, season with salt and pepper.
- Coat short ribs in flour mixture, shaking off excess flour.
- Heat Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil and cook pancetta until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove pancetta and set aside.
- Add four coated short ribs to the Dutch oven and allow to brown on all sides, about 5 minutes a side. Remove short ribs from Dutch oven, set aside.
- Add diced carrots, celery, onion, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence; allow to sweat for about 6-7 minutes until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Add tomato paste and cook out raw flavor for 2 minutes.
- Slowly add beef broth, whisking to combine. Return short ribs and pancetta to the Dutch oven. The cooking liquid should come half way up the side of the meat, if it does not, add a bit more broth or some water.
- Bring mixture to a boil and cover with lid. Transfer Dutch oven to the oven and allow to braise for at least 2 hours (you can let it go a little longer (I would say max, 4 hours), just make sure your liquid level doesn’t get too low).
- Pan Sauce (optional): 1) To make a pan sauce, after cooking skim fat from cooking liquid and discard. Reserve 1 cup of liquid. 2) Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to ¼ cup cool water. Slowly add to reserved cooking liquid. 3) Bring mixture to a boil and allow to reduce slightly, about 5-7 minutes. ** For a gravy like consistency, melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 1 cup cooking liquid. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.
- 4 medium russet potatoes, ¾ inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ c milk ( I used skim)
- ¼ c sour cream ( I used light)
- Cover potatoes and garlic with cold, salted water
- Bring potatoes and garlic to a boil over high heat, boil for 10- 12 minutes until fork tender
- Strain and return potatoes and garlic to the pan to remove any additional moisture
- Add butter and milk. Mash potatoes until relatively smooth. Stir in sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.