Friday, October 12, 2012


Billy and I are partners in a film production company called Modern City Entertainment (MCE), and our first project has just been completed!  We are very excited and proud of this project, named Heroes Behind the Badge.  MCE has partnered with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) to create this powerful documentary that features some of the brave men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line and survived, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  I cannot describe this film and do it justice, so just click on the Heroes Behind the Badge link to check it out for yourself .  Billy and I hadn’t seen the film yet so I invite the president of our company (who is also a longtime friend) over for dinner to catch up, and to watch the DVD of Heroes Behind the Badge. 
When I have guests over I like to do a dish I can forget about, and spend time with my guests.  That’s why braising is so great, I put it on the stove and forget about it for a few hours.  Since I’m having a house full of men for dinner, beef is on the menu.  My favorite cut of beef to braise is short ribs, they are so full of beefy flavor, they release tons of flavors into the sauce, and they get fall off the bone tender.  
Creamy polenta is the perfect accompaniment to soak up some of that, hearty sauce of the short ribs. I love this Creamy Polenta so much, that I could bathe in it (that’s a little weird I know). 
I like to think that Braised Short Ribs are like a pot full of love, and Creamy Polenta is like a hug for my tummy!  Who doesn’t want love and hugs?
So we watch Heroes Behind the Badge after dinner, while snacking on Green Cardamom Scented Pear Newtons (stay tuned for those).  Needless to say the film brought me to tears and gave me a new found respect for those officers who do a whole lot more than just write traffic tickets!  I am especially proud to tell you that 50 percent of the proceeds are going directly to the NLEOMF!
Here’s how to make that pot full of love and that hug for your belly; that Billy is still talking about BTW!
Cut the thick layer of fat off the outside of the short ribs.
Season the short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper.  Be generous.
In a Dutch oven with a little oil, brown the short ribs on all the sides, over medium high heat.  Don’t over crowd the pan or the beef will steam instead of brown.  Remove the beef to a plate when they have browned.

One of my short ribs wouldn’t fit in the pan, so I browned it at the same time that I browned both sides of the cippolini onions. 

Remove the cippolini onions to a plate. 
 If you don’t have cippolini onions than just increase the amount of diced onion from ½ of a medium onion, to 1 whole medium onion.
Reduce the heat to medium, and sweat the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and ¼ tsp. of salt in same Dutch oven.
When the onions are translucent, stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Nestle the browned short ribs back in to the pot.  Don’t add the cippolini onions yet.
Add red wine, the veal (or beef) stock, the maple syrup...
...And the bay leaves (bundled with the fresh herbs, if using fresh herbs).
Bring the pot to a low boil.
Turn the heat to low.  Put the lid on askew; this allows the flavors to meld and the liquid to reduce slowly; yielding a rich beefy sauce.  Braise (or slowly simmer) for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, remove the short ribs to a plate.  Remove and discard the bay leaves (and fresh herb bundle)

Take the Dutch oven off of the heat.  Skim the fat from the top.

Us a hand blender to puree the sauce and the vegetables; this is how the sauce is thickened.

Add the ribs back to the sauce, as well as the cippolini onions.  Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if it's needed.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes more…or until the polenta is done…
Use a course cornmeal which has more corn flavor and more texture than fine/quick cooking polenta.
PLEASE don’t use quick cooking polenta!
Add water and milk and heavy cream to a 3 quart sauce pan.  
Milk gives the polenta a sweeter, creamier flavor and a softer consistency than just water.
Heavy cream is just creamy and good, but you could leave the cream out and increase the amount of milk.
Whisk the liquid until it’s frothy.  
Put the pan on medium high heat and bring to a low boil.  Be careful it doesn’t boil over.
Add the salt and whisk the polenta into the liquid, in a slow steady stream.
Turn the heat down to low and continue to whisk for a few minutes more to separate the grains.
Put the lid on and simmer at the lowest temperature for 35 to 45 minutes; stirring with a long handled wooden spoon at first every 10 minutes.  When the polenta starts to get thick, stir it about every 5 minutes.  Put the lid back on after stirring.
Cooking the polenta with a lid on also helps to give the polenta a creamier texture.

When the polenta is the consistency of porridge, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese.
Pour the Creamy Polenta into a bowl, and ladle the Braised Short Ribs and sauce over the top.

Enjoy with a salad and crusty bread!


Serves 4

2- 2 ½    lbs.         Beef chuck short ribs, 4 ribs.  2 ½ pounds sounds like a lot, but much of the weight is from the bones and fat.
1              Tbsp.     Oil, grape seed oil is good
¼             lb.           Cippolini onions, peeled *optional
½                            Medium onion, small dice *if you don’t use cippolini onions, then use a whole onion.
2                             Celery stocks, small dice
2                             Medium carrots, small dice
3 – 4       cloves     Garlic, smashed
2              Tbsp.     Tomato paste
2              cups       Red wine
2              cups       Veal or beef stock, low sodium

2              Tbsp.     Maple syrup *optional
1              tsp.        Dried rosemary, or 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1              tsp.        Dried thyme, or 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
2                            Bay leaves
                               Salt and pepper to taste
1.        If there is a thick layer of fat on the outside of the short ribs, then remove it.
2.       Season all sides of the short ribs generously with salt and pepper.
3.       Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high.  When the pan is hot, put the ribs in to brown on all sides.  Do not over crowd the pan.  When the ribs have browned remove them to a plate.
4.       Brown both sides of the *cippolini onions.  When they have browned, remove them to a plate.
5.       Turn the heat down to medium and add the diced onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and a ¼ tsp. of salt.  Sweat the vegetables until the onions are translucent.
6.       Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
7.      Nestle the browned short ribs back into the pan; and add the red wine, veal (or beef) stock, *maple syrup, the herbs (if using fresh herbs, tie them into a bundle with kitchen twine).  Don’t add the *cippolini onions at this point.
8.       Bring the pot up to a mild boil, then put the lid on askew (this allow the liquid to evaporate, concentrating the flavors, but at a slow rate of speed), turn the heat down to low and simmer for 3 hours.
9.       After the 3 hours, remove the short ribs to a dish.  Remove the bundle of fresh herbs, and the bay leaves.
10.  Take the the Dutch oven off of the heat and skim the fat off the top of the liquid. 
11.   Use a hand held blender to puree the vegetables and the sauce in the pan; this is what thickens the sauce.
12.   Add the short ribs back into the pan of pureed sauce, along with the *cippolini onions.
13.   Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper if necessary.
14.   Return the pan back to the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes with the lid off.
Serve over Creamy Polenta or mashed potatoes. 
Serves 4
2              cups       Water
2              cups       Whole milk
1                     cup         *Heavy cream
1            cup          Course polenta
1 ½         tsp.        Salt
1            Tbsp.       Butter
½             cup         Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese *optional 
1.       Add the water, milk and heavy cream to a 3 quart sauce pan.  Whisk until the liquid is frothy.
2.       Put the liquid on to boil over medium high heat.  Watch carefully that it doesn’t boil over.
3.       Add the salt.
4.       Whisk the polenta into the pan in a slow, steady stream.  It’s very important to use a whisk at this point.
5.       Turn the heat down to low and continue to whisk for a couple of minutes to separate the grains.
6.       Put the lid on a simmer at the lowest temperature, for 35 to 45 minutes.  Stir the polenta with a long handled wooden spoon; at first about every 10 minutes, then when the polenta start to thicken, every 5 minutes, replace the lid each time.
7.       When the polenta is done, it will have porridge like consistency; remove it from the heat, stir in the butter and *cheese.
*If you don't want to use heavy cream, omit the cream and increase the amount of milk to 3 cups.
Pour the Creamy Polenta into a bowl and eat it like it is (YUM!); or… top it with Braised Short Ribs or your favorite ragu.

Check out more terrific recipes at the Weekend Potluck!


  1. I love your shot by shot. Much easier to follow than a recipe.

  2. A picture is worth a thousan words!

  3. i used polenta for the very first time today. actually really really tasty. might have to give this a go. glad to have popped in x