Saturday, December 17, 2016

Short Ribs With Kielbasa and Polenta: A Dish to Die For

I love short ribs over polenta. As previously noted, I like to slow-and-low-cook short ribs in the oven the night before and then reheat, for 3 reasons: (1) You can prep them while you make a quicker meal for that night; (2) You can skim off a congealed layer of grease when you take them out of the fridge so you don’t hate yourself as much; and (3) My kitchen does not have space for a slow cooker, are you kidding me. Barbie’s Dream House seriously has more kitchen square footage than mine, and I am not adjusting for scale here, people.

Anyway, the other week, I preheated the oven to 250° or so; dredged my short ribs in garlic powder, kosher salt, and paprika; and browned them in olive oil in my Creuset saucepot before adding an 8-oz. can of tomato sauce, some chicken stock prepared from the carcasses of recently documented roast chickens, and the remains of a bottle of red wine I had in the fridge. Then I put the covered pan in the oven for a few hours.

It was only later that it occurred to me that the fact that the wine bottle’s cork had a festive Santa hat topper meant that it had been sitting in the fridge for almost exactly one year, since my holiday party was scheduled for that coming Sunday. This concerned me. Actually, my immediate thought was OH MY GOD I’M NOT READY TO DIE OF FOOD POISONING, I HAVE SO MANY THINGS LEFT TO EAT, BUT IF MY DEMISE IS AT THE HANDS OF SHORT RIBS AT LEAST MY LOVED ONES CAN CONSOLE THEMSELVES BY REMINDING THEMSELVES THAT I DIED DOING WHAT I LOVED.

So anyway, the polenta recipe...

Whisk 2 cups of cornmeal (I used white because my adopted son—a.k.a. the 26-year-old friend of my boyfriend who lives on our couch—is afraid of vegetables, and I was trying to avoid any semblance of plant life being involved, but you could use yellow, whatevs) in 6 cups of boiling water. Add a plop of butter and some heavy cream. Whisk continuously until it is nice and creamy and then whisk in some Parmesan. I threw some thyme in there too.

(If you have extra/leftover polenta, you can spread it in a pan like it was brownie mix and put it in the fridge overnight. Once solid, cut it into triangles and fry in some melted butter; top it with tomatoes and basil or roasted peppers or olive tapenade or whatever you want. Makes a nice appetizer.)

The next day, I added some thick chunks of kielbasa to the skimmed-and-reheated short ribs mixture, because if I was staring death in the face, I was damn well going to make sure my last meal included beef and pork.

I plated, or rather bowled, the potentially lethal meat over the polenta and strewed some arugula around it for me and my man, in the hopes that the healthful properties of vegetation would cancel out the risk of death by year-old wine. I omitted the arugula for my adopted son, because I knew he would choose death over it.

As it turned out, he was not fooled by the polenta’s colorlessness and, sensing that it had distantly originated from a plant of some sort, just picked at the meat. But I didn’t care, because I was just relieved that none of us died. Turns out that cooking with year-old wine is just fine.

UPDATE/FULL DISCLOSURE: After drafting this post, I requested a slow cooker for Christmas. Screw it, I’ll find someplace to put it. Maybe I’ll just keep it on my nightstand so I can wake up and eat short ribs in bed. After all, life is—no pun intended—short.

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