I've had braised beef short ribs on my mind for the past couple weeks, working on a preparation for the current book, another for an OpenSky promotion, and also because we've got ten people coming for dinner on Saturday, and short ribs are the wintertime choice for entertaining! It's bleak and cold and wintery here, perfect weather for these rich short ribs. They're also relatively inexpensive—important during the frugal post-holiday months. And they can be prepared up to a week in advance, so I don't have to be rushing around at the last minute.
What I want to talk about here, though, is the gremolata, which sometimes gets lost in the shuffle at the end, but is absolutely essential to the finished dish. Most are familiar with this potent troika, minced garlic, lemon zest and parsley—but feature it, don't make it an after thought. It works with almost any braised preparation, adding fresh bright notes of lemon and herb to the rich caramelized flavors of the braised meat, and the pungent umami impact of the garlic. Rarely is a finishing garnish so critical to the ultimate pleasure of a dish.
I like to braise mine in a delicious wine, worth the expense especially if I'm out of veal stock. (I'd give the recipe here but I promised it to my friends at Open Sky, who have put together a very cool 4-color PDF for those shopping at Open Sky— link here —for which I was honored to be able to choose the above entree and join my fellow Open Sky bloggers, Jay and Irwin of design2share, Denise of Dedemed, Alison and Shannon of cookingwithfriendsclub, Cory of zestycook, Lori of FindingRadiance, Greg of Sippitysup, and last but not least Le Bernardin executive pastry chef, Michael Laiskonsis—who just did pretzels, his with baking soda; I think mine are purtier!) But you don't have to braise short ribs, you can braise a lamb shank, or osso bucco (gremolata is a traditional garnish for this), or even chunks of beef for stew.
Serve the braise piping hot (braises have to be hot or they have no character, not unlike Mrs. Bourdain), topped with a judicious amount of gremolata. My ratio is by volume: 3 parts parsley, 2 parts lemon zest, 1 part garlic.
Gremolata for 4 Portions
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 teaspoons minced lemon zest
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Combine. Then don't forget to use!
The above pasta was the 3:2 flour to egg pasta from Ratio, which are awesome with braised ribs, as would be, oh, I don't know, a creamy potato gratin. Winter food is so much fun.