I’m heading to Chicago this weekend to audition for season 4 of Master Chef. This is the dish I’ll be offering. Sorry I don’t have the recipe up…I didn’t get to it in the flurry of cooking and packing. I’ll describe it a little better now, then post the recipe later.
The short ribs are braised in a red wine reduction. They are served with a celery root puree and spicy glazed carrots. The dish is garnished with mushrooms that are pickled in a white balsamic-thyme vinegar, and celery leaves for an extra vegetal note to compliment the puree. The sauce is a further reduction of the braising liquid, which is mounted with butter before serving.
Technically I’m serving leftovers, so I’ll share some tweaks I made so it would be a better presentation, and how I packed this up to keep it warm for the tasting (cold food just doesn’t taste as good, except perhaps fried chicken…ooh…there’s an idea).
Because I was driving most of the day on Friday, and would be going to the open call on Saturday morning, I cooked the short ribs and celery root puree on Thursday night. In order to save some time, since a traditional braise would take about 3 hours in the oven, plus prep time, I used the pressure cooker to speed things up. I’ve cooked short ribs in both the pressure cooker and in the oven, and I don’t notice any difference. I highly suggest you make the short ribs ahead of time: they are actually much better as left-overs. The celery root puree, carrots, mushrooms, and sauce can be prepared the day of the feast.
Get ready for a long grocery list. Serves 4.
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 6-8 bone-in short ribs
- 1 pound of mushrooms
- 4-5 large carrots
- 1 large onion
- 2-3 stalks of celery
- 1/2 head of garlic
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1-2 stalks rosemary
- 4-5 stalks thyme
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 10-12 whole black pepper corns
- chicken or beef stalk
- xanthan gum
- 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 cup baby brown mushrooms
- 2 large celery root
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 cups milk
- 3-4 piquin chili peppers
- 20-25 small peeled carrots
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- torn celery leaves
Add 1 bottle of red wine to the pressure cooker, and reduce by half. While the wine is reducing, salt, pat dry, and sear 6-8 bone-in short ribs (you will want to estimate how many can fit in your pressure cooker). Set them aside for later. Once the wine is reduced, chop up 1 pound of mushrooms, 4-5 large carrots, 1 large onion, 2-3 stalks of celery, and 1/2 head of garlic, and add them to the pressure cooker. Add 2-3 bay leaves, 1-2 stalks rosemary, 4-5 stalks thyme, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, 10-12 whole black pepper corns to the pot. Layer a few flattened coffee filters over the contents of the pressure cooker, and add the short ribs on top of those. Add chicken or beef stalk to the pot until the short ribs are 1/2 submerged (about 4 cups). Seal the pressure cooker, and bring to full pressure (a slight hiss for the old tyme cookers, and 15psi for those with a fancy kind. Cook the short ribs at full pressure for 1 hour, then allow it to cool on its own. Once the pressure cooker is cool, remove the short ribs and remove the bones and connective tissue around the bone (it should be easy to pull off, or slice off with very little effort). Keep the bones to add some beefiness to some future stock/soup. Store the ribs in a container large enough to store them completely submerged in their braising liquid: this will keep them moist and flavorful. Strain the braising liquid and add it to the container of ribs, and set aside to cool. (Warning: to strain the braising liquid really well takes a little bit of time and can be a little messy. I usually spoon off as much fat as I can, then add the unfiltered liquid to a gravy separator, then strain it through a fine mesh strainer lined with a paper towel, which is frequently replaced. Tedious, but very effective). If you are preparing these a few days ahead of time, refrigerate them when they are completely cool, then reheat as described later.
Pour most of the strained braising liquid into a pot, reserving about 1/2 cup for reheating the ribs. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce it until it covers the back of a spoon, then whisk in 1 Tbsp butter. Taste the sauce as it reduces, and if you find it becoming salty, then stop reducing it and thicken it with a tiny sprinkle of xanthan gum (this is what I did to maintain the consistency of the sauce for the audition).
Bring 1 cup white balsamic vinegar combined with 1 cup water and 2 tsp sugar to a simmer. Pour the water/vinegar is simmering pour it into a tall narrow container filled with a large handful of thyme sprigs. Once the vinegar has cooled, remove the thyme and bring it to a simmer again. Slice 1 cup baby brown mushrooms in half, and place them in a heat-proof container. Once the water/vinegar/thyme is at a simmer, pour it into the container of mushrooms.
Peel and chop 2 large celery root, and 2 medium potatoes. Add them to a pot with 2 cups water and 2 cups milk (it sounds odd, but the milk helps soften some of the vegetal bite of the celery root). Simmer the potato and celery until they are soft (chop the celery twice as small as the potato, so they finish at approximately the same time). Meanwhile, add 2 Tbsp of butter to an extra large saute pan and melt over medium heat. Crumble 3-4 piquin chili peppers over the melted butter and let them cook for a little bit. Add 20-25 small peeled carrots to the pan along with 2 Tbsp sugar and enough chicken stock to partially submerge the carrots. Bring to a rapid boil and cook until the carrots are tender. If the glaze has not reduced sufficiently, remove the carrots and cook the glaze until smooth and thick. Add a tiny sprinkle of little xanthan gum to help maintain the emulsion of the glaze. Add the carrots back to the glaze, and toss to coat. Set aside until everything else is ready. When the potatoes and celery are done, strain them and add to a food processor, along with 4 Tbsp butter. Blend until smooth, and season with salt and pepper. (Note: because I would be serving this after it sat in the fridge for a few days, I added a tiny sprinkle of xanthan gun to help stabilize it and prevent the butter from splitting. You can do this if you want, as I found it created a smoother puree).
To reheat the short ribs, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the short ribs to a large saute pan, and any remaining braising liquid. Heat the ribs in the oven, basting them with the braising liquid every 5-10 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a thick glaze. Check them frequently near the end, to prevent the glaze from burning. While the ribs are reheating, reheat the puree, carrots, and sauce.
To serve, place a spoonful of puree on the plate, and drag it across the plate with the back of a spoon. Add 4-5 glazed carrots to the plate, and place a short rib in the center. Garnish the plate with a few pickled mushrooms and freshly torn celery leaves, and small pour of sauce. Serve, and enjoy.
P.S. In case you wanted to know, in order to keep everything warm for the audition, I used a small cooler and a bunch of hand warmers. The morning of the audition I gave the puree a few seconds in the microwave, just to take the chill off of it, added 20 small hand warmers to the cooler, and added the components of the dish, each in little tupperware containers. This worked very well. It worked so well that when I opened the cooler 24 hours later, it was still warm inside. I don’t recommend this for serving warm food to your family and friends…but it served my purposes for serving warm food for the audition.