After a long, long hiatus, we finally had friends over for dinner on Saturday. (We were out of town all but two weekends from before Christmas until last weekend. It’s been a busy couple months!) Since I was actually going to be home all day on Saturday and the weather was supposed to be disgusting, I went ahead and tried a new Sunday Suppers recipe: the Boeuf à la Niçoise, served with buttered noodles (with spinach). We started with my old favorite Inoteca Salad (romaine and raddichio with red wine vinaigrette, covered by a mound of ricotta salata). Then the beef and noodles, and finally another old favorite, the Sunday Suppers Meyer Lemon and Chocolate Tart (this was a special request from Ben).
One miscalculation: All the Sunday Suppers recipes are supposed to feed six, and generally with six people there are limited leftovers, if any. We were just four on Saturday and have WAY too much food left over (especially the tart, which gives an easy 8+ slices).
The recipe uses 3 pounds of boneless short ribs instead of the typical chuck roast. After cutting up the strips of meat into nice chunks, they get a rub-down with 1 T pepper, 1 T thyme leaves, zest of 1/2 orange and 6 crushed garlic cloves.
That combination is supposed to hang out overnight, but despite a completely annoying after-work-before-movie shopping trip on Friday night so I’d be able to prep the meat, I completely forgot when we got home, and had to do it in the morning, about six hours before cooking. Oops!
The meat (with the garlic and orange brushed off, to be added back in later) gets thoroughly seared (heat the dutch oven for three minutes; add in a few tablespoons of olive oil, let that heat for another couple minutes before adding a bit of the meat at a time, in batches. This is a smoky process, so open a window…):
And then diced vegetables– 1/2 cup each of carrot and fennel and 1 cup of onion, plus six sprigs of thyme–caramelize a bit in the messy, messy pot, then the reserved garlic and orange zest go in. I include this photo, taken once I’d added in 3/4 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes and a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar to cook down into a glaze, because cooking isn’t always pretty. There are blackened pots and crappy-looking steps as well as softly-lit final presentations or gleaming raw ingredients!
In go two and a half cups of good red wine, to reduce down, and then four cups of beef stock (bring to a boil), and then the meat. On with some tinfoil (NO PLASTIC WRAP, despite the recipe!) and the lid and into the oven at 325 for three hours.
You’re supposed to use San Marzano tomatoes again here, but I couldn’t get whole ones without basil, etc. added in, so I used plain Muir Glen. Cut 8 good canned tomatoes in half and place in a small baking dish (put a couple T of olive oil in the dish first), cut side up. Sprinkle with 1 T thyme, salt and pepper, and put in the oven with the beef for an hour and a half.
At some point while things are roasting, pit 1/2 cup of Niçoise olives (they’re tiny!) by crushing them with the flat of your knife and then picking the pits out:
Also clean 4 oz. of baby spinach and set aside, and get a pot of salted water boiling and then turn it off so it won’t take forever to boil when you need it!
When the beef is done, remove it from the oven, uncover it (make sure the beef is meltingly tender, if it’s not back to the oven with you!) and ladle half the juices out into a big pan. Crank the oven to 400 and put the meat back in for 15 minutes.
Bring that water back to a boil and cook 3/4 pound of pappardelle, a little underdone.
Add the olives to the braising juices and then add in the pasta, toss and bring to a low simmer. Add in 6 tablespoons of butter. (I know! You should see the recipe for the lemon tart!), stir in the spinach and 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, and serve, tucking the roasted tomatoes in around the chunks of meat.
The short ribs make this so, so tender and delicious. I was really tired and not that hungry by the time we ate, but the flavors here were great and the dish was a very big hit at the table.
This was the first time I got to use Meyer lemons instead of regular–they had loads of gorgeous ones at Whole Foods, so I took advantage.
For the record, Meyer lemon on the left, regular on the right:
My tart pan is randomly 9″ instead of 10″, so I always have lots of extra tart dough. I made little stars to munch on and stick on the tart:
Oh, and for good measure here is the Olive That Ate the World, discovered before dinner: